James Cameron has already begun production on his new AVATAR movies — four entirely new films, as he personally announced at CinemaCon last week — and the Oscar winner exclusively tells Famous Monsters of Filmland executive editor David Weiner of his highly anticipated endeavor, “It’s going to be probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”

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While detailing the production and lessons learned while making ALIENS on the 1986 Sci-Fi classic’s upcoming 30th anniversary for a cover story in the June issue of Famous Monsters, Cameron revealed new details on his ambitious AVATAR sequels production, including how he plans to shoot all films concurrently, not back-to-back; that he plans to use more real-world photographic references for the films; and that he has no intention to go up against the new STAR WARS films:

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ON SHOOTING ALL NEW ‘AVATAR’ FILMS 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.”

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ON SHOOTING MORE REAL-WORLD REFERENCES FOR NEW ‘AVATAR’ FILMS:

“If I could do the Alien Queen today with the techniques we used on AVATAR, she’d be spectacular. She’d be much more dynamic. Now, where I would struggle is to make her as texturally real. But that’s all doable now. … On the new AVATAR films, I’m actually going to shoot more real-world stuff. It may only be there as an example from which we then generate CG, or we may actually integrate some of those photographic elements. But I want more photography. … Like, if I was doing the Alien Queen, I would want photography to show the exact way that the slime drools off the curl of a lip and caught the light in a certain type of very low-key lighting. I would want to see that so that I can talk to the CG artist and say, ‘All right. Do that.’ … It always usually boils down to the lighting and the conception of the shot.”

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ON HIS ‘AVATAR’ RELEASE STRATEGY AGAINST ‘STAR WARS’:

“My original plan was to release them a year apart, but we’re opening that up. If for no other reason than that I don’t want to land on the same date as one of the STAR WARS sequels. That wouldn’t be fair to them. [Laughs] No, that’s just good business. I don’t want to go head-to-head with STAR WARS. That would be stupid. And hopefully they won’t want to go head-to-head with us.”

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The first follow-up to AVATAR is expected to hit theaters during the Christmas 2018 season, with the following sequels expected to arrive in 2020, 2022, and 2023. Released in 2009, the first AVATAR raked in $2.8 billion worldwide and remains the highest-grossing film of all time (if you do not adjust for inflation). The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three: Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction.

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**All quotes must be attributed to Famous Monsters of Filmland. James Cameron’s exclusive ALIENS 30th anniversary interview with executive editor David Weiner will be available at CaptainCo.com and on newsstands June 7.**

Go to FamousMonsters.com on April 26 — ALIEN DAY — for the exclusive reveal of James Cameron’s ALIENS 30th anniversary Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine cover by acclaimed artist Brian Taylor.