James Cameron Talks About His AVATAR Sequels and “Building a Greater Kind of Meta Narrative”

After years of preparation, James Cameron is finally shooting his Avatar sequels. The first of these sequels is set to hit theaters eleven years after the original and fans are wondering if these sequels are going to be just as successful.

We don’t know much about the story, but we do know that a lot of this first sequel is going to take place underwater and we are going to be introduced to a lot of new characters. Most notably the kids of Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldana), who will play a large role over the course of the sequels. 

During a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Cameron talked about the sequels and also working with his Titanic star Kate Winslet after all these years:

“She’s very excited about it. She blazed through for a couple of days of rehearsals and saw the world that we had created, and how we do the work, and she’s very excited. She plays a character who’s part of the Sea People, the reef people. The one thing she did do is demand that she do all her own water work. I said, ‘All right, that’s fine, we’ll have to teach you how to free dive.’”

Since a lot of the movie takes place underwater, all of the actors have had to take some free-diving lessons. To shoot some of these scenes the actors need to hold their breath several minutes at a time. Cameron reveals: 

“The other actors are up to three- and four-minute breath holds. We’ve already been doing underwater capture. We did a scene last week with six teenagers, well, actually five teenagers and one 7-year-old underwater holding their breath for a couple minutes and acting, actually doing a dialogue scene under water because they speak kind of a sign language.”

That’s so cool! Cameron is obviously looking to get the underwater look as authentic as possible. It’s going to be really interesting to see how these underwater scenes turned out. Cameron previously talked about the challenges of doing motion capture work under water.

The director went on to discuss all of the delays that the film had gone through over the years saying:

“I wouldn’t call them delays. It was highly optimistic that we could start quickly until scripts are written. If there’s no scripts, there’s nothing, right? The scripts took four years… We’re doing very well because of all the time that we had to develop the system and the pipeline and all that. We weren’t wasting time, we were putting it into tech development and design. So when all the scripts were approved, everything was designed. Every character, every creature, every setting.”

I’m glad that Cameron got his scripts for the films complete before they started shooting. Hollywood is known for starting film productions with unfinished scripts and a lot of the time, those movies end up being crap. The director went on to talk about how the future of the franchise depends on if audiences actually show up to watch the first couple of sequels. 

“Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, ‘Oh, sh*t, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.’ Even though that all worked and everybody did.”

I really do hope that these new Avatar films end up being a success because I do want to see Cameron’s full vision of these films realized. 

The Avatar sequels will see the return of Joel David Moore, Matt GeraldSigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, and Stephen Lang, who will be back as the main villain. Cliff Curtis and Oona Chaplin are also in the sequels.

The Avatar sequels are currently shooting and with a budget of $1 billion dollars. Fox is releasing Avatar 2 on December 18, 2020, Avatar 3 on December 17, 2021, Avatar 4 on December 20, 2024, and Avatar 5 on December 19, 2025.