Set on the brilliantly exotic distant planet of Pandora, Avatar is far and away the biggest blockbuster film of all time, having taken in $2.8 billion at the box office worldwide. Hopeful rumors became hard news recently when news broke that filmmaker James Cameron will once again be returning to Pandora in not one but two sequels of the monumental film.
Cameron told the Los Angeles Times in April that the fictional planet introduced in the first film. Specifically,
Cameron says he'll begin writing the films' script in January 2011, with production for the first sequel set to kick off at the end of next year. Avatar 2 would be focusing on the ocean worlds of Pandora, for which the progressively adventurous Cameron wants to journey into the depths of the Mariana Trench, almost seven miles beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Only two people have ever been to such depths before, and Cameron – seizing the challenge – has hired a team of Australian engineers to conceive and construct an underwater vessel that can not only handle the crushing conditions but also function as an underwater 3D studio.
Avatar 2 is projected to hit theaters in December 2014, according to Twentieth Century Fox. If Cameron decides to film the two sequels concurrently, as he's currently considering, the second sequel would arrive no sooner than December 2015. Twentieth Century Fox could not be more pleased with James Cameron’s work on Avatar, having “raised the consciousness of people worldwide to some of the greatest issues facing our planet,” as a spokesman for the company puts it. The studio is fully backing Cameron’s work on the sequels: “We had no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of Avatar.”
Cameron has been vocal about a few of his ideas for the continuation of the Avatar franchise as well, unable to hide his excitement to explore more of the majestically beautiful world he brought to our own. At a recent press event for the Avatar extended edition Blu-ray set, Cameron had the following to say in regard to future adventures in the world Avatar:
As for plotlines, details are minimal so far, but fans can safely expect an exhilarating ride: "In the second and third films, which will be self-contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of Avatar's visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world," Cameron said in a news release. "I'm looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild."
In the meantime, Cameron is continuing work on his Avatar novel, which he hopes will serve as a guiding light for other conceptualists to offer their unique takes on the world of Pandora.
"The novel's a big project," said Cameron, "It's not a novelization… I asked myself, 'If this had been based on a book, what would that book have been?' It ends coterminously with the end of the movie. I'm not going to give you one frame beyond that. But how about the 30 years before Jake came to Pandora? The discovery of the planet? Grace's arrival there? All the back story and the history of Earth. All the context and then everything lateral to what you see in the movie. Whether it's things that are happening off-camera or things that are happening inside the characters' heads."
As for returning characters in Avatar, Cameron shared his thoughts on Sigourney Weaver's character returning for Avatar sequels, despite her apparent death in the first film.
"Who said she died?" Cameron teased, "Nobody dies in a science fiction movie. Whether Grace lives or dies depends more on Sigourney's agent than anything."