James Cameron wants to give you more Avatar sequels, than you can handle. While the director readies the Pandora for three sequels, the 59-year-old visionary is looking to expand his fictional world beyond the film series. Four movies are apparently not enough because Cameron has hired author Steven Charles Gould to write four stand-alone novels that will delve deeper into Pandora and its native people, the Na’vi.
According to Cinema Blend, Twentieth Century Fox announced that Gould will base four novels on the Avatar films, and expand the world of Pandora. This would be something like the Star Wars extended universe that goes far beyond the boundaries of the films. Presumably these books will be canon for the universe, but it’s unclear how they will fit into the forthcoming cinematic additions.
How deep can the Avatar mythology go? We know that there’s a conflict between Earth and Pandora, so Gould’s novels could expand on the history of how things got so contentious with humans and the Na’vi. Cameron says of the author’s work:
Steven Gould is one of the shining lights in contemporary science fiction, and I’ve long admired the worlds and characters he’s created in his books and stories. We’re very fortunate to have Steven bring his formidable talents to the Avatar universe. He is already working closely with me and the screenwriters to flesh out the expanding world of Avatar.
Gould is the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, so he knows a thing or two about the genre. He is best known for writing the 1992 novel Jumper, which was later adapted into a feature film from director Doug Liman in 2008. The film starred Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane, and Michael Rooker.
So far, Cameron has hired five writers to help bring Pandora back to life. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles showrunner Josh Friedman was first brought on to co-write Avatar 2 with Cameron, and then the writing team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (<em>Rise of the Planet of the Apes) teamed up with screenwriter Shane Salerno (Salinger) to co-write the two additional sequels. The addition of Gould suggests that Cameron wants to focus more on the logistical aspects of the films, and leave the stories and characters for others to deal with.
While I don’t have a problem with Cameron’s screenplays, the technical and visual side of filmmaking is where he excels. It’s true that the dialogue in his films isn’t the sharpest, but it’s broad enough for general audiences, which is why he’s responsible for the two highest grossing films of all-time – Titanic and Avatar. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the sequels now that he doesn’t have the added pressure of writing screenplays on his mind.
Production on Avatar 2 is expected to begin in early 2014 at Peter Jackson’s WETA Studios in New Zealand, and the films will shoot back to back to back. Although Fox has yet to announce an official release date, the first sequel is expected to be released for Christmas 2016, with the others following in 2017 and 2018.