James Cameron has been working on the Avatar sequels since the huge success of the original in 2009. That was four years ago, but it hasn’t been until recently that we’ve seen movement on the Na’vi front. While Avatar’s production was just as big as its box office, the sequels are an even bigger undertaking. Cameron isn’t content to make one film, oh no, he’s planning to make three sequels, all at the same time. So it’s more understandable why this process is taking such a long time. Now we have a production start on one of the most ambitious film projects of the decade, October, 2014.
According to Varitey, while on an Australian radio show, Avatar star Sam Worthington said that production on all three sequels will begin almost exactly a year from now. There were reports that the filming could start as early as January, but now it seems that’s not the case. “We are going to start this time next year and we will do two, three and four,” Worthington told Australia radio station NovaFM. “In one shot, we’ll do them simultaneously. I’ll be grateful if it finishes.”
With the first expected release date of Christmas 2016 for Avatar 2, starting out in October 2014 seems about right to get the film in theaters on time. There’s no telling how long production will last, but considering that James Cameron is making three movies at the same time, it might be upwards of two years. It’s also going to be a long time for the CGI, motion capture, and special effects to be finished, so it appears that James Cameron will spend the next five to six years on this gigantic project.
Production on the Avatar sequels is expected to take place in Los Angeles and at Peter Jackson’s WETA Studios in New Zealand. Perhaps Jackson can give Cameron some pointers on how to balance three films at the same time. After all, Jackson has done it twice, he made the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies all at once.
Worthington continued to say that the recent screenwriter hires are merely for polishing purposes and not full-on collaborations with the director. A few months ago, Cameron hired Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Armageddon) to help him with the scripts.
No plot details are currently available for the sequel films, but it is believed that Avatar 2 will explore the oceans of Pandora (Avatar meets The Abyss), while Avatar 3 will explore the Na’vi planet’s Moon (Avatar meets Aliens). Avatar 4 is expected to be a prequel, and take place before humans discover Pandora.
Fox has yet to announce an official release date for an of the sequels, but it is believed that they will be released around Christmas in 2016, 2017, and 2018.