James Cameron is many things, but soft spoken and modest he is not. That’s part of what makes him so damn entertaining. With his Avatar 2, 3, and 4 all shooting back-to-back-to-back next year, you knew that was going to be at the forefront of his mind, and he’s got a lot to say on the matter, covering everything from how great they’re going to be to how they’re going to be “filmed.”
We expect a number of things from the upcoming movies, like a return to the magical alien world of Pandora, appearances from the likes of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, and dazzling special effects. Aside from that, however, we don’t know much about the actual films. Talking to Empire, Cameron didn’t reveal any details, but he did say something very promising. In his words the Avatar sequels are “gonna be bitchin’.”
That’s really the best way to describe a movie, but he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, “You will shit yourself with your mouth wide open.” This makes me way happier than it has any right to, and I’m now officially way more excited for these movies than I was.
Part of why these films will so stunning (and they’re going to have to be pretty spectacular in order to make me crap myself, I don’t do that for just any movie), is because of how they will be shot. Cameron, always one to push technological boundaries in filmmaking, plans to shoot at a higher frame rate. He says, “My thinking at the time was that 60 [FPS] might be a better segue to the video market,” he said of earlier attempts to increase frame rate. “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.”
It will be interesting to see how that goes over. The only other big time film to take this approach was the first film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, and it was so poorly received by general audiences that he went back to a standard 24 fps for the second installment. Personally, I really disliked the way it made the movie look too much like a videogame, and with such crazy clarity also made the boundaries between real and digital stand out that much more starkly.
But Cameron is never one to back down from a challenge, and he’s aiming big. Talking to the Wall Street Journal, discussing the way he approached these films, he said:
It was very revolutionary this time in terms of the way in which virtual production and performance capture were integrated into a new production system. So, it’s really more of what the viewer will experience in terms of the world, new cultures, new creatures new environments—that sort of thing. We have to have a world that continues to refresh itself and be rich and unexpected.
While some directors like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino clinging to actual film stock, Cameron has been on the forefront of digital filmmaking. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter about his process, Cameron said:
Interestingly, the term ‘filming’ is so obsolete in almost every regard because we do some image capture where there’s actual photograph, but it’s done entirely on digital cameras. And that only represents a small part, maybe 20 to 25 percent, of the total film. The rest is completely synthetically generated.
And you can bet that’s going to go for Avatar 2, 3, and 4 as well. The first sequel drops on December 25, 2016, with another to follow in 2017 and 2018, so we still have a while to prepare for shitting ourselves. In preparation, perhaps theaters should star stocking up on adult diapers.