Cameron, Gianopulos On “Avatar” Sequels Risk

James Cameron does many things, but he doesn’t do them cheap.

With production gearing up to get underway soon on a trilogy of “Avatar” sequels, a new report at Variety has heard estimates of the budget for the trio of films will come in at around $1 billion dollars. 20th Century Fox chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos however says a final production budget hasn’t been set yet.

It sounds like a risk, until you remember the first “Avatar” film made $2.7 billion worldwide. What risk there is though, Gianopulos isn’t afraid to take it on and tells the trade:

“We know it’s going to be a long journey. We know it’s not going to be cheap. We know it’s not going to be without new discoveries and new challenges in the process of producing something that is so beyond the normal form of filmmaking and technology, but what could be more exciting than that.”

Cameron himself adds:

“There’s nothing I need to say as an artist about the state of the world and human affairs that I can’t do through the lens of the ‘Avatar’ universe. We’ve had a couple of years to think through the story arc of the next three films, and every day that goes by, I believe in the stories I’m telling more and more. We’re not coming out of the block fast to capitalize on the last film.”

Fox has certainly been making a mint out of sequels this year, with “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” and “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” helping push the studio to become the first to cross $3 billion worldwide this year – blossoming in a Summer that has otherwise been seen as being in the midst of a record slump.

Sequels are a big part of the studio’s strategy going forward and that isn’t likely to change soon according to Gianopulos:

“One of the things that makes sequels so successful is that they start from a place where people already like what you did before. But part of what they liked, and part of the appeal of the first film, was its originality. You have to give them a new story. You have to give them new characters. You have to take (a sequel) to a place that restores its freshness and originality.”

“Avatar 2” is currently slated for a 2016 release.