Avatar was not my favorite movie. It wasn’t even my favorite James Cameron movie, but it was big enough that it has spawned an upcoming Disney Theme Park and now 4 (yes, I said 4) sequels. the announcement of the 4th sequel and of a release schedule that starts in 2018 and I won’t bother outlining the rest because Cameron doesn’t know how to stick to a deadline, came at last week’s cinemacon.
One of the interesting tidbits that Cameron is now talking about is the fact that the four films will be filmed concurrently.
“It’s not back-to-back. It’s really all one big production. It’s more the way you would shoot a miniseries. So we’ll be shooting across all [AVATAR scripts] simultaneously. So Monday I might be doing a scene from Movie Four, and Tuesday I’m doing a scene from Movie One. … We’re working across, essentially, eight hours of story. It’s going to be a big challenge to keep it all fixed in our minds, exactly where we are, across that story arc at any given point. It’s going to be probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m sure the actors will be challenged by that as well. It’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, this person hasn’t died yet, so you’re still in this phase of your life.’ It’s a saga. It’s like doing all three GODFATHER films at the same time.”
While film students might look at this with awe, I look at it with impressed cynicism. From where I sit, the Avatar brand is flagging. It was never a movie that people loved for the story. We’ve had that story in tons of other films. It was all about the CGI world that he’s created. Now, effects have far surpassed what Cameron created with the first film and the bar is raised. In a world where he’s got to worry about subsequent films not being made, or budgets being slashed if the first one under performs, the best solution is to make them all at once. It’s kind of hard to argue with that kind of logic. He’s a smart, smart man.