Appearing at a recent IMAX Q&A for next week’s release of “Alita: Battle Angel,” producer Jon Landau offered several updates on how filmmaker James Cameron’s four sequels to “Avatar” are progressing.
As we know, the second and third film in the series will be released in 2020 and 2021 respectively with the fourth and fifth in 2023 and 2024. Indications have been the second and third films were being done first, with the remaining two to go into production at a later date.
To that extent it was revealed many of the actors shot their mo-cap work late last year for the second and third films, and now Landau tells Collider that with ‘principal capture’ (aka performance capture) complete, the production will now shoot its live-action portions in New Zealand. Landau says:
“We have completed our principal capture on Avatar 2, 3, and part of 4. We’re going to do our live-action filming in New Zealand in the spring of this year. We just announced today that we’ve cast Edie Falco to play General Ardmore, who is the head of the RDA forces. In typical Jim [Cameron] fashion he finds this powerful woman to play what could be very easily a male role if people were just to read the script.”
Landau re-iterated that all four sequel scripts were completed before filming began, which is why it took so long for them to get off the ground:
“That’s what we waited for. We needed to have all the scripts done before we embarked on production. We needed to understand where the characters were going. Not only did we need to understand it, our cast needed to understand it. Our cast playing these roles needed to understand decisions they were making in movies 2 and 3, how it would affect them in movie 4. Because if they didn’t, they might not bring the same thing to it. So we waited to complete all four scripts before we ever embarked on doing the project.”
Landau also says the sequels will stay strictly on Pandora to drive home the overall environmentalist themes of the series and get away from the ‘one planet = one climate’ thinking of many space epics:
“We also made the decision on the sequels to do everything really based on Pandora. There are times when other science-fiction movies, if they want water, they go to the ocean planet. If they want snow, they go to the ice planet. We realized that if we looked at Earth, we could spend our whole life travelling the globe and not see all of the wonders that Earth holds. Let’s do that on Pandora. Let Pandora really truly be that metaphor where we get to go see all these incredible different environments that Pandora holds.
But just as importantly, as we go throughout the sequels we’re gonna meet new clans with very diverse cultures. Because our world, we’re a melting pot. In the first movie, we really only met one clan, the Omaticaya. But if a clan has lived forever on the oceans, they’re culturally gonna be very different than a clan that has lived in the rainforest, and we wanna present that in the movies as well.”
In November came word of the potential titles for all four films – “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Avatar: The Seed Bearer,” “Avatar: The Tulkun Rider” and “Avatar: The Quest for Eywa”. Now, this week, Cameron himself has confirmed (via The Playlist) that the titles are legitimate but not final: “I can neither confirm nor deny. All right, here’s what I’ll tell ya. Those titles are among titles that are in consideration. And no final decisions have been made yet.”
The second “Avatar” film is currently slated to open December 18th next year.