Twentieth Century Fox and James Cameron are now moving quicker with the Avatar sequels than ever before. Yesterday, Fox hired screenwriter and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles showrunner Josh Friedman to work with Cameron on the screenplay for Avatar 2. The pairing is a perfect fit considering Friedman’s experience with expanding the mythology of a James Cameron franchise. Now it seems that Fox and Cameron will make not two, but three Avatar sequels (Avatar 4 will most likely be a prequel). The studio has officially hired a new team of screenwriters to help expand the universe of Pandora and the Na’vi.
According to Deadline, Fox has hired screenwriters Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Shane Salerno (Salinger) to co-write the Avatar sequels with James Cameron. With Friedman co-writing Avatar 2, it’ll be interesting to see who handles what on the subsequent sequels. Perhaps Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver will co-write Avatar 3 with Cameron, hen Shane Salerno will tackle Avatar 4. Needless to say, this is going to be a giant undertaking for Cameron, who would be filming all three films simultaneously, with production beginning next year at Peter Jackson’s Weta Studios in New Zealand. Cameron says:
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.
Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver are a writing team who mainly focus on science fiction franchises, so Avatar will be a good fit for the married couple. They were nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Writing for their screenplay for Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, and penned its upcoming sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as well. They also wrote the screenplay for Jurassic Park IV, which is being directed by Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) and is due in theaters during the summer of 2015.
Shane Salerno co-wrote the screenplay for Michael Bay’s smash-hit Armageddon with Tony Gilroy, Jonathan Hensleigh, and J.J. Abrams in 1998. Salerno wrote the films Alien vs. Predator in 2004 and its sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007. He also wrote Ghost Rider in 2007, so it seems he has a penchant for very silly genre movies. Most recently, Salerno made his directorial debut with the documentary Salinger, about the life of J.D. (you guessed it) Salinger.
The next five years are going to be very interesting for James Cameron and the Avatar franchise. You’ve got to hand it to Cameron: the man loves a challenge when he’s making a movie.
Although Fox has yet to announce an official release date for the Avatar sequels, Avatar 2 will be released for Christmas 2016, Avatar 3 for Christmas 2017, and Avatar 4 for Christmas 2018.