It’s been a long, long time since James Cameron‘s Avatar hit theaters back in 2009. Six years. That’s an unusually long time to expect an audience to wait for a sequel, and it’s a long time for a creative to spend focusing on a single project. To put it in other terms, production on Avatar 2 was originally predicted to start last year, then Cameron added a fourth film to the franchise and Avatar 2‘s release date was set for December 2016. Earlier this year, Cameron pushed production to continue working on the scripts, and as it stands now, it’s not certain that production will even begin by that date.
What that amounts to is a huge time and energy investment on Cameron’s part to make sure that these films will match his vision, which means he’s spent a lot of time perfecting the scripts and locking in the designs — arguably the most critical component of what enthralled audiences back in 2009. And that work seems to be paying off. Sigourney Weaver described Cameron’s sequel art work as “mind-blowing“, and WETA’s Joe Letteri said it’s the “most ambitious” project they’ve ever worked on.
But there’s still work to be done yet, and in a new interview with EW, Cameron gave an update of where he’s at in that process.
“I’m in the process of doing another pass through all three scripts right now…Just refining. That’s in parallel with the design process. The design process is very mature at this point. We’ve been designing for about a year and a half. All the characters, settings and creatures are all pretty much [set]”
It’s kind of crazy to think that things are only “pretty much” done at this point, but Cameron also spent four years on Avatar and that was only one film. While opinions have cooled and divided on Avatar over the years, it’s hard to deny that Cameron delivered an unprecedented cinematic experience that had a major impact on film technology and distribution. Hopefully Cameron’s got another trick up his sleeve with the next three (or maybe four).
With a film that’s in such a constant state of flux, it’s hard to know a whole lot about the details, but we do know that filming is planned to take place entirely in New Zealand, and Cameron intends to shoot all three films at once when production gets underway. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are confirmed to reprise their roles as Jake Sully and Neytiri. Sigourney Weaver is set to return as well, though she’ll be playing a new character this time around. Stephen Lang is also set to return, but nobody knows what the heck that’s about.