It’s been eight years since Avatar premiered and became the highest-grossing movie of all time. Since then, audiences have eagerly been waiting to hear more about the developing sequel, which will once again be helmed by James Cameron. The director recently gave an update on the status of the upcoming follow-up and when it’s expected to start filming. Here’s everything we know about Avatar 2 so far:
1. Several cast members will return
In addition to having Cameron resume his post behind the camera, several original members are expected to reprise their roles in the sequel. Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington are set to return as Neytiri and Jake Sully, respectively.
Meanwhile, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver are also reportedly coming back as Colonel Miles Quaritch and Dr. Grace Augustine. Both characters died in the original movie, and it’s unclear exactly how they’ll be brought back in the coming sequel. As Cameron explained in October 2010 though, “Nobody dies in a science fiction movie.”
2. The technology will be even more impressive
While the cast was great, the true star of Avatar was the 3D technology it employed. The movie helped usher in a whole new era of filmmaking with its revolutionary new technology and this time, Cameron is looking to up the ante. According to Entertainment Weekly, the director is hoping to use underwater performance capture to capture the oceans of Pandora and once again provide a revelatory movie experience.
“We have kept a team of digital artists on from Avatar in order to test how we can create performance capture underwater … we could simulate water, but we can’t simulate the actor’s experience, so we are going to capture performance in a tank,” the director explained.
Cameron recently revealed more about how he plans to use groundbreaking techniques for future Avatar installments. “I’m going to push,” he recently said, per IndieWire. “Not only for better tools, workflow, high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rates (HFR) — the things we are working toward. I’m still very bullish on 3D, but we need brighter projection, and ultimately I think it can happen — with no glasses. We’ll get there.”
3. It’s required a years-long development process
The movie has been subject to multiple delays, with Cameron (seen above) struggling to complete the script and the hefty design work. But as the director told the Montreal Gazette in December, the bulk of the prep work has finally been completed.
“It’s been about a two-year task. [We’ve finished] all the creatures and the landscapes, and the new worlds within the world of Pandora that you see,” he said. “The writing is ongoing, but almost finished. Technical development is done. Stages are done. Infrastructure. So we’re really poised to start [production] after the first of the year.”
4. It will be part of a larger story
Part of the reason why the development process for Avatar 2 has taken so long is because the director is not developing it as just one standalone sequel, but as the first part of an upcoming trilogy of sequels. “I call it a meta-narrative that runs across the three movies,” Cameron described. “Each film stands alone, but it also tells one much larger story.”
Director James Cameron revealed more details about the Avatar sequels in an interview with The Daily Beast. “The thing is, my focus isn’t on Avatar 2,” said Cameron. “My focus is on Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5 equally. That’s exactly how I’m approaching it. They’ve all been developed equally. I’ve just finished the script to Avatar 5. I’m now starting the process of active prep.”
5. It’s expected to premiere in 2017
After several delays, Avatar 2 is now currently on track for release on Christmas 2017, something that Cameron recently confirmed. “Christmas of ’17 is the target,” Cameron said. “At least, that’s what we’ve announced. But I don’t consider that to be as important as the fact that when we get all three films done, we drop them a year apart.” So once Avatar 2 does finally hit theaters, the rest of the movies will follow relatively rapidly.
Whenever the films are released, Cameron knows that they have a lot to live up to. “Obviously, expectations are going to be very high on these films, especially on Avatar 2, to make sure it wasn’t just some big fluke the first time,” he told EW. “So we’ve got to deliver. I’ve created a nice rod for my own back, so they say.”
Audiences will have to longer than expected to see the sequel. In March 2017, Cameron revealed that the sequel won’t be released in 2018 after all and is in fact several years away.
As just confirmed, Avatar 2 is currently scheduled to hit theaters on December 18, 2020. The next three sequels are set to follow on December 17, 2021, December 20, 2024, and December 1, 2025.
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