As Avatar 2 starts to inch closer, visionary director James Cameron is slowly teasing what we can expect from the first of four planned sequels to 2009’s motion capture powerhouse adventure Avatar. In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cameron talked about what motivated him to shoot Avatar 2 the way he did, his expectations for the next installments, released some behind-the-scenes photos and images for the project that has been years in the making.
One of the few pieces of information that has been released recently is that Avatar 2 will take place mostly underwater, which, in terms of production, means that cast and crew had to take extensive diving lessons and new technology had to be developed in order to better develop underwater motion capture. Cameron said of the process:
“It sounds kind of nuts, the process I mean, if ‘Avatar’ hadn’t made so much damn money, we’d never do this — because it’s kind of crazy. […] I do the ocean thing when I’m not making movies. So if I could combine my two greatest loves — one of which is ocean exploration; the other, feature filmmaking — why wouldn’t I?”
For his other record-breaking film, 1997’s Titanic, Cameron also had no holds barred when it came to mimicking the ocean – he put Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the cast and crew of the now-classic love story inside a 17-million-gallon tank. Now, a 900,000-gallon was built specifically for the Avatar sequels, and Cameron revealed he had absolutely no regrets about doing it:
“My colleagues within the production really lobbied heavily for us to do it ‘dry for wet,’ hanging people on wires [instead of filming underwater in a tank]. I said, ‘It’s not going to work. It’s not going to look real.’ I even let them run a test, where we captured dry for wet, and then we captured in water, a crude level of our in-water capture. And it wasn’t even close.”
Now, some behind-the-scenes photos reveal the amount of work put into filming, as well as providing a first-look into Avatar 2, which features the new reef-dwelling Na’vi race – the Metkayina – at home by the water and riding on reptile-like water creatures. By the looks of the images, it sure seems like 20th Century Studios is sparing no expense during production, but it’s no surprise: back in 2009, Avatar made history as it grossed over $2 billion and took the highest-grossing film top spot from Cameron’s Titanic. Now, however, repeating this feat might prove difficult since the world has changed in many ways, the 3D-viewing experience trend that Avatar brought back is no longer a thing and COVID has taught studios to adjust their expectations, gross-wise.
Cameron was blunt about needing all of this work he’s been putting into the Avatar franchise to pay off:
“The big issue is: Are we going to make any damn money? Big, expensive films have got to make a lot of money. We’re in a new world post-COVID, post-streaming. Maybe those numbers will never be seen again. Who knows? It’s all a big roll of the dice.”
Avatar 2 is set to take place 14 years after Avatar, with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) having settled down and standing aside for their kids’ first adventure. The movie will see the return of Sigourney Weaver (in an undisclosed capacity) and introduce Winslet as Ronal, one of the members of the new Na’vi race.
After many (many, many) delays, Avatar 2 is set to premiere on December 16, 2022. The other three sequels are set to premiere every two years, in 2024, 2026 and 2028. Check out the behind-the-scenes images below.