Based on the fact that it’ll have taken thirteen years for the first Avatar sequel to arrive should it be released into theaters as planned in December of next year, there’s every chance that James Cameron is going to spend the remainder of his career on Pandora. After all, the filmmaker is known for the painstaking amount of time it takes for his movies to come together, and the second installment in the sci-fi franchise will mark just his third feature since True Lies was released in the summer of 1994.
Indeed, at 66 years old, and with Avatar 3 currently filming and fourth and fifth films also in the works, it’s not as if he’s got the time to tackle anything else in the interim. You can’t help but admire the sheer level of investment Cameron has in the property, though, having spent years developing the necessary technology to bring the world to life, while he also hired a linguistics professor to craft an entire Na’vi dialect from the ground up and tasked deaf actor CJ Jones to develop a new form of sign language exclusive to the franchise.
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Of course, one of the most widely criticized aspects of Avatar was the narrative, which was labeled as predictable and derivative in some quarters. Ironically, though, Cameron has now revealed that he threatened to fire the entire writing team on the sequels because they kept focusing on trying to tell new stories instead of looking at the connections to the mythology established in the opening chapter that could be made and continued.
“When I sat down to write the sequels, I knew there were going to be three at the time and eventually it turned into four, I put together a group of writers and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anybody’s new ideas or anyone’s pitches until we have spent some time figuring out what worked on the first film, what connected, and why it worked’. They kept wanting to talk about the new stories. I said, ‘We aren’t doing that yet’. Eventually, I had to threaten to fire them all because they were doing what writers do, which is to try and create new stories. I said, ‘We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame’.”
It’s a very James Cameron thing to get annoyed at your writers because they want to come up with fresh ideas, but we’ve still got 20 months to go until we find out if it was a wise idea, and if Avatar 2 can usurp its predecessor, which recently reclaimed the title of highest-grossing movie ever.