Now that it’s been confirmed that AVATAR 2 and 3 will be filmed back-to-back and if a fourth film is to be made, it will be a prequel, James Cameron has revealed—while promoting the TITANIC 3D Blu-ray—that he is about to isolate himself in his “top secret writing cave” to finish the scripts for the two sequels by the end of the year.
Writer-directors often speak about the writing process being the most difficult part of filmmaking, and with the goal of completing two scripts at once, Cameron told the LA Times that one of his concerns is avoiding the “Matrix 2 problem.”
“It’s a little bit of a daunting writing task because it’s two scripts and they’ve both gotta be done at the same time. I’m writing it as separate stories that have an overall arc inclusive of the first film. I don’t want to suffer from the ‘Matrix 2′ problem, where it just ends, like, what the hell? It’s gotta end. There’s gotta be a sense of conclusion, but also a sense that the journey will continue, and that’s a fine line.”
As for the content of the sequel, Mr. Cameron told Super Hero Hype that we can expect a contemporary, environmental subtext, with an underwater ecosystem being a “part of the environment of Pandora,” but without the entire film taking “place completely in or under the water.”
The ocean ecosystem will be constructed by Cameron and his team but its place in the story will have less to do with deep-water exploration – as in TITANIC and THE ABYSS – than with concerns about the conservation of Earth’s oceans. Cameron explains:
“The fact that we’re basically overfishing, climate change… a few degrees of temperature rise are gonna basically take out the coral reefs. All those beautiful images of the coral environments we all grew up with won’t exist in 50 years at the rate we’re going in terms of pumping greenhouse gases into the environment. These are the things that concern me.”
But don’t expect him to be done with exploratory documentaries:
“I’m going to continue in the future making documentaries and continuing explorations stuff as well because I’m always fascinated by that. We don’t have to explore the coral reefs at this point because we understand them very well. We also understand that they’re dying and they’re ultimately doomed if we don’t change our profligate ways.”
Cameron has always been a big, blockbuster-sized-movie kind of filmmaker, but planning so far ahead and on such a large scale has left an impression on some of his peers. Brad Bird, not unfamiliar with large-budgeted tent pole movies himself, tweeted, “I love Cameron’s films, but planning 3 sequels ahead is scary. No doubt, Cameron is one guy who can execute a thoroughly imagined universe, but the scope of 3 sequels ahead is humbling to say the least.”
Some have interpreted this tweet as a critical comment, but it was probably made more out of admiration than skepticism. During production of the first film, Cameron and his crew overcame many challenges, spending years testing new cameras, software and performance-capture techniques, so it’s understandable that they feel confident in undertaking such a large project. Or maybe Cameron has a masochistic side that can never do anything on a reasonable scale. He himself has admitted that the “first film just about killed us, and now we’re gonna try to do twice that much” on the sequels. What do you think?