James Cameron is a director who isn’t afraid to push the envelope and innovate. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who visited the bottom of the ocean. His latest innovation is one that has slightly lower stakes, but that will definitely be interesting for the future of movies. Cameron is looking to release two different versions of his future movies — a longer version for streaming and a shorter theatrical release. He didn’t disclose if he’s considering this for Avatar’s sequels, but it sounds likely.
James Cameron revealed this idea in an interview with fellow director Denis Villeneuve. He compares the streaming approach to a longer, more detailed novel and going to the theatres as a more immersive, rollercoaster of an experience. It’s an interesting idea, and there’s sure to be plenty of people that are more than willing to spend extra hours in the world of Pandora that Cameron brought to life in the first Avatar film. In fact, the world was so immersive that it actually induced depression in those who wanted to live in the lush utopia that was depicted.
I think what we can see is an expanded form of cinema. I want to do a movie that’s six hours long and two and a half hours long at the same time. Same movie. You can stream it for six hours, or you can go and have a more condensed, roller coaster, immersive version of that experience in a movie theater. Same movie. Just, one’s the novel, and one’s the movie. Why not? Let’s just use these platforms in ways that haven’t been done beforeJames Cameron
In the first Avatar, we saw Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as a marine sent on a mission to the planet of Pandora. Due to the poisonous atmosphere of the planet, humans must implant their consciousness in an avatar. Sully quickly learns that the mission is less than benevolent. Corporations are looking to mine the planet for a rare resource, destroying the planet’s ecosystem in the process. During his mission, Jake falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a member of Pandora’s native population the Na’vi. Jake and the Na’vi work together to save the planet and the movie ends with Jake staying in his Na’vi body.
As the highest-grossing film of all time, it’s an understatement to say that Avatar was wildly popular. One of the biggest reasons for its popularity was its major innovations in 3D and CGI technology, which made the film a visual feast in theatres. To make such a visually advanced movie, James Cameron actually created a special 3D camera. This camera allows the director to look through the viewfinder and see CG environments behind the live actors in real-time. He also collaborated with special effects powerhouse Weta Digital to bring motion capture to an entirely new level. The specially designed facial rig they built led to a new level of human expressiveness in motion-captured characters.
It’s been a long wait for this Avatar sequel, with the first film releasing way back in 2009. But it looks like James Cameron is finally ready to release Avatar 2 in 2022. The film will return to the world of Pandora and will feature Worthington and Saldana reprising their roles as Jake and Neytiri. In the sequel, the two have started a family and must once again protect their land from hostile forces. The film will co-star Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Yeoh, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Jemaine Clement, and Giovanni Ribisi.
It remains to be seen if James Cameron will follow up on his streaming idea with future Avatar films. Even if he doesn’t, Avatar fans will have plenty to look forward to, since the upcoming sequel is the first of four. Who knows? Maybe in 2050, you’ll be able to watch a 10-hour version of Avatar 5 in virtual reality.