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‘Avatar’ producer admits 4 sequels wasn’t the original plan

You have to go where the story takes you, apparently.

Image via 20th Century Studios

Is four better than three? That was apparently the mindset when they were putting together the Avatar sequels. Producer Jon Landau revealed as much recently when he revealed that the original plan was only going to be three movies. For better or for worse, that’s not the case anymore.

In a recent interview with Collider, Landau said they put a lot of pressure on themselves to expand the world. He said the original plan was three sequels but it eventually became clear that there was more story to tell.

“If I’m gonna be honest with you, our plan was to do three sequels, and we hired three teams of writers to work with Jim Cameron on them. Ultimately, there was more story to tell, and we decided to break it out into four movies. Our cast embraced that because we wouldn’t do it without our cast. They now know where their characters go, across those four films.”

There’s also the reintroduction of the world to the actors. It’s been more than a decade since the last film, so there was a learning curve at first, but Landau said there were things in place to get the actors up to speed.

“The actors coming back know a little bit, but we’re going to new places, so we had to train them in different skills, this time around. What we try to do is share with them some of the concept art, so they can understand the world and the creatures. We have them work with a linguist, Paul Frommer, who wrote the Na’vi language. We want to make it authentic. People might look at the world of Avatar and think of it as science fiction, but to us, it’s science fact. We want the cast to embrace that and be comfortable in the world, to create the most honest and true performances.”

One of the reasons Avatar stands the test of time is how technologically advanced it was. Director James Cameron is known for pushing the technological envelope when it comes to his movies and this one is no different. In a few instances Cameron has invented things that didn’t even exist. Landau said “idea of trying to do something before it’s been done is what gets me out of bed, every day. It’s terrifying, and it’s exciting.”

With Avatar, he said, they’re consciously trying to “tell stories in a way that you couldn’t tell them before.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do with Avatar, and I’m so thankful that we have found a group of people to surround ourselves with. I stand on the shoulders of hundreds of others who embrace that same challenge, but can do their jobs much better than I could ever do them.”

Avatar: The Way of Water releases in theaters on December 16.

Jon Silman
About the author

Jon Silman

Jon Silman is a stand-up comic and hard-nosed newspaper reporter (wait, that was the old me). Now he mostly writes about Brie Larson and how the MCU is nose diving faster than that 'Black Adam' movie did. He has a Zelda tattoo (well, Link) and an insatiable love of the show 'Below Deck.'