Cameron On “Avatar 2” Delay & Possible Failure

As part of an extensive interview with Vanity Fair, filmmaker James Cameron has offered some new details on the proposed “Avatar” sequels and made one surprise revelation.

Until now, those involved have seemed quite adamant and resolute with their plans to craft four sequels. Then a while back came word that the production was split in two with the second and third “Avatar” films being shot together first, followed by a break as they’re finished, and then the fourth and fifth films will be done.

With the second and third films now shooting, Cameron admits that the fourth and fifth films aren’t guarantees and that the box-office performance of the second and third films will determine if they’ll go forward, saying:

“Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and a 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, ‘Oh, s–t, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.’ Even though that all worked and everybody did.”

Cameron also spoke about why it has taken so long for the sequel to go into production:

“It was highly optimistic that we could start quickly until scripts are written. If there’s no scripts, there’s nothing, right? The scripts took four years. You can call that a delay, but it’s not really a delay because from the time we pushed the button to really go make the movies [until now,] we’re clicking along perfectly.

We’re doing very well because of all the time that we had to develop the system and the pipeline and all that. We weren’t wasting time, we were putting it into tech development and design. So when all the scripts were approved, everything was designed. Every character, every creature, every setting. In a funny way it was to the benefit of the film because the design team had more time to work.”

Part of the second film will be done via underwater motion capture with child actors using a form of sign language and acting underwater for several minutes at a time.

It has also been confirmed Kate Winslet will play one of the film’s sea people, a clan called the Metkayina which live on giant oceanic reefs and are ruled by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis). Speaking about her involvement in the project, he confirmed Winslet demanded that she do all her own water work and so was taught how to free dive.

The first of the “Avatar” sequels is slated to hit late 2020.