Looks like there will be a gap of at least a decade between the top-grossing film of 2009, “Avatar,” and its first sequel. We already knew from writer/director James Cameron that while pre-production is in full swing on “Avatar 2” — “we’re pretty well designed on all our creatures and sets” — it isn’t going to be ready in time for its original release date of December 21, 2018. As he explained, “we’re making Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5. It’s an epic undertaking.”
Cameron, who won Oscars for directing, producing and editing the blockbuster “Titanic” two decades ago, likened the scale of this production to “building the Three Gorges dam” and compared the making of the first movie to these four. “I know where I’m going to be for the next eight years of my life. It’s not an unreasonable time frame if you think about it. It took us four-and-a-half years to make one movie.”
While Cameron won’t say anything about the plot of “Avatar 2,” leading man Sam Worthington is returning to the role of astronaut Jake Sully, who at the end of the first film joined the Na’vi tribe on Pandora to be with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). The Aussie actor has revealed: “This is going to be Jake eight years later, and he’s got a family now.” As he explained, “Jake will still have that essence of a kid seeing the world for the first time, but he’s been living in the world for a while now, so what’s this world he’s seeing now for the first time?”
There had been talk that filming wouldn’t start until the fall, which had many fearing that “Avatar 2” wouldn’t be out till 2020 but now we hear by way of Saldana that rehearsals with the reassembled cast will begin in June. That could mean that the film is ready at some time in 2019.
And all of you Sigourney Weaver fans, don’t despair by Worthington’s description of “Avatar 2.” She will be back as Sully’s one-time boss, Dr. Grace Augustine in all four of the follow-up films. She and Cameron first worked together on “Aliens” (1986) which netted her a Best Actress Oscar nomination; she lost to Marlee Matlin (“Children of a Lesser God”).
The original “Avatar” pitted Cameron against his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow at the 2009 Oscars. She prevailed as her war drama “The Hurt Locker” was named Best Picture and she became the first woman to win Best Director. While “Avatar” took home only three Oscars (art direction, cinematography, visual effects), Cameron had the last laugh as his film shattered box office records taking in a staggering $2 billion worldwide.