It was not that long ago that Avatar 2 was confirmed for release in 2016, but it would appear that James Cameron’s first film in a series of sequels will not be ready in time. In an interview with Yahoo, Cameron explained that the 2016 release date was now not possible, and too ambitious.
He explained “There’s a layer of complexity in getting the story to work as a saga across three films that you don’t get when you’re making a stand-alone film,” and that his plan to get the first of the sequels out by December 2016 was “probably too ambitious.”
The writing process has been blamed for the delay, which the director explained while speaking to Yahoo in New Zealand, where the first film was shot.
“We’re writing three simultaneously. And we’ve done that so that everything tracks throughout the three films. We’re not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that,” he said. “And parallel with that, we’re doing all the design. So we’ve designed all the creatures and the environments.”
With Avatar 2 originally due for release in 2016, and the next two films following in 2017 and 2018, it now looks like Avatar 3 and 4 will also be pushed back a year each.
A short while ago Cameron revealed the following tease about how great the three sequels will be:
“I can tell you one thing about them [the sequels]. They’re gonna be bitchin’. You will shit yourself with your mouth wide open.”
Cameron has divided the two scripts across a writing team that includes Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Josh Friedman and Shane Salerno.
“I think we met for seven months and we whiteboarded out every scene in every film together, and I didn’t assign each writer which film they were going to work on until the last day. I knew if I assigned them their scripts ahead of time, they’d tune out every time we were talking about the other movie”.
Despite early rumours of a move to 60 frames per second, 48 is Cameron’s choice of frame rate for the sequels.
“My thinking at the time was that 60 [FPS] might be a better segue to the video market,” he says. “I’ll be plugging into a system that’s a little more mature, so it makes sense for me to do 48 frames at this point.”
Avatar 2 will be written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, along with James Cameron
Avatar 3 will be written by Josh Friedman, along with James Cameron
Avatar 4 will be written by Shane Salerno, along with James Cameron
Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are best known for writing Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the success of that lead them to write the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and also Jurassic World.
Josh Friedman wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, and also wrote episodes for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Shane Salerno wrote Savages for Oliver Stone, and also Alien vs Predator: Requeiem and Armageddon. He also wrote episodes for TV series Hawaii Five-O and UC: Undercover.
Here is what Cameron revealed about the writing process last year:
Cameron hired three sets of writers for the sequels, Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Shane Salerno, and he used skills he learnt while working in TV to bring his three sequels together so they could be filmed back-to-back. Here is what Cameron said about the Avatar sequels writing process:
“We tried an experiment. We set ourselves a challenge of writing three films at the same time. I knew I could certainly write any one of them but to write three in some reasonable amount of time – we wanted to shoot them together so we couldn’t start one until all three scripts were done and approved. So I knew I was going to have to ‘parallel process’ which meant I would have to work with other writers. And the best experience I had working with other writers was in television when I did Dark Angel. The television room is a highly collaborative and fun experience.
So we put together a team, three teams actually — one for each script. The teams consist of me and another writer on each one of those three films. Each [individual writer] would have their own script that they’re responsible for. But what we did that was unique beforehand was we sat in a writing room for five-months eight-hours-a-day and we worked out every beat of the story across all three films so it all connects as one three film saga. I didn’t tell [the three writers] which sequel was going to be theirs to write until the very last day. So everybody was equally invested story-wise in all three films. So the guy that got the third movie, which is the middle film of this new trilogy, he now knows what preceded and what follows out of what he’s writing at any given moment.
We all consider that to be a really exciting, creative and groundbreaking experiment in screenwriting. It worked as a process to get our minds around this epic and all these new creatures and environments and characters”
Here’s what we know about the three Avatar sequels so far:
At a press conference last year in Wellington, N.Z.in 2013, with the New Zealand’s prime minister John Key, James Cameron announced that he will make all three Avatar sequels for 20th Century Fox, in New Zealand.
Cameron also said at the press conference that filming on all three sequels should last for a period of about nine months. He also said that the budget for all three sequels put together should come in under $1 billion, and considering the first Avatar film cost $500 million, this will be quite an achievement.
The first Avatar film achieved a worldwide box office phenomenon of $2.78 billion, making it the biggest film in history.
Peter Jackson shot his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films in New Zealand, and his own Weta company are already working on the Avatar sequels.
The three pictures will be filmed simultaneously with production beginning in 2014. The release of the first sequel will be in December 2016 (now 2017), with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later. AVATAR 2, 3, and 4 will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Like the original film, Lightstorm will work with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital to realize the worlds of the sequels.
Commented Cameron: “Building upon the world we created with AVATAR has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that AVATAR’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh — all writers I’ve long admired - to join me in completing the films screenplays.”
Commented 20th Century Fox chairman and CEO, Jim Gianopulos: “We at the studio have no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of AVATAR. The growing breadth and scale of Jim Cameron’s plans for his magnificent fantasy worlds continue to amaze us all.”