Avatar is one of the strangest blockbusters to ever have graced Hollywood in recent times. With a $2.8 billion haul, it sits right there at the pinnacle of highest grossing movies. And yet, we haven’t seen any sequels, nor did the movie spawn a franchise or buzz that plenty of its lesser grossing contemporaries have. Cameron has been hard at work on the sequels, which have seen multiple release shifts and are finally expect to arrive starting 2020. Recently however, while promoting his AMC Science Fiction Documentary, Cameron offered some insight on the sequels, explaining how he’s shaping them up similar to The Godfather series of movies.
Cameron was intrigued by the idea of imagining his universe as a giant family saga encompassing five films. According to Cameron, it gives the larger-than-life films a fresh element and perspective in the blockbuster territory. Here’s what he said after amounting to a long absence on the matter of any insight on the sequels:
I found myself as a father of five, starting to think about what would an Avatar story be like if it was a family drama, if it was The Godfather. Obviously very different genre, very different genre, but I got intrigued by that idea. So, that’s really what it is. It’s a generational family saga. And that’s very different from the first film. Now, it’s the same type of setting, and there’s the same respect for the shock of the new, that we want to show you things that not only you haven’t seen, but haven’t imagined. I think that’s absolutely critical to it. But the story’s very different. It’s a continuation of the same characters, but what happen when warriors that are willing to go on suicide charges, and leap off cliffs on to the back of big orange toruks, what happens when they grow up and have their own kids? It becomes a very different story. Now the kids are the risk-takers and the change-makers. So, it’s interesting, but it makes sense to me. Everybody’s either a parent, or they had parents at the very least, and if you look at the big successful franchises now, they’re pretty much uninterested in that.
The tricky part here will of course be actually pulling off the Godfather inspiration. Countless films and sequels have claimed to seek inspiration from Francis Ford Coppola’s epic trilogy (particularly the sequel) but none have actually manage to emulate that sense of intricate drama and narrative that people expected from these films. Then perhaps, Cameron is no ordinary filmmaker and every time he comes out with a new film, it has a shot at becoming the highest grossing movie of all time, a feat he’s already achieved thrice.
The Avatar sequels have been in development for a long while now. Set for release as early as 2016, the sequels have undergone radical changes, expanding from 2 to 3 to now 4 movies and being delayed multiple times due to writes and rewrites and Cameron’s ambitions of shooting them together. The last we heard, his plan involved shooting at least Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 back to back and releasing them in consecutive years, beyond which he’d be willing to wait and see depending upon how well the sequels are received. With 10 years having lapsed since Avatar came out in 2009 and wowed audiences with its immersive 3-D, one wonders if fans have any appetite left for this many Avatar movies. Regardless, Cameron is known for reinventing the wheel and is said to be trying and imagining things for the sequels previously unheard of in Hollywood (including brief talk of shooting them at 60 Frames Per Second) so there’s every chance his inventive ideas might end up drawing more people to theaters than skeptics project.
Check out a trailer from the said documentary James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction below which premieres on AMC on Apr 30. Avatar 2 is currently set for a tentative theatrical release on Dec 2020 with Avatar 3 to follow on Dec 2021. Should these two work, we should have Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 in 2024 and 2025 respectively.