Do audiences really want four more Avatar sequels? That's the question James Cameron is going to have to grapple with now that Avatar 2 is only a couple of years away, with the next three films arriving in Christmas 2020, 2022, and 2023. While we had been made to think Cameron would be shooting them all back-to-back, he's actually approaching them in a far more ambitious way, which shouldn't be a surprise considering he always swings for the fences.
Cameron tells Famous Monsters of Filmland that he plans to shoot the films concurrently, miniseries-style. How is that different? We'll let him explain it...
"It’s not back-to-back. It’s really all one big production. It’s more the way you would shoot a miniseries. So we’ll be shooting across all [the films] simultaneously. So Monday I might be doing a scene from Movie Four, and Tuesday I’m doing a scene from Movie One. … We’re working across, essentially, eight hours of story. It’s going to be a big challenge to keep it all fixed in our minds, exactly where we are, across that story arc at any given point. It’s going to be probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m sure the actors will be challenged by that as well. It’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, this person hasn’t died yet, so you’re still in this phase of your life.’ It’s a saga. It’s like doing all three 'Godfather' films at the same time."
That sounds unnecessarily grueling, especially for the actors, but if Cameron thinks it's the best approach he must know something we don't. Let's hope when all is said and done there are no issues piecing the whole thing together in a way that flows naturally, because if it doesn't his decision is going to be heavily scrutinized.
Cameron's a smart businessman, though, and chances are he'll figure out how to make things work, or at least change the perception around Avatar right now. And part of being a smart businessman is knowing which battles to fight and which to avoid, and going toe-to-toe with Star Wars definitely falls in the latter category....
"My original plan was to release them a year apart, but we’re opening that up. If for no other reason than that I don’t want to land on the same date as one of the 'Star Wars' sequels. That wouldn’t be fair to them. [Laughs] No, that’s just good business. I don’t want to go head-to-head with 'Star Wars.' That would be stupid. And hopefully they won’t want to go head-to-head with us."
Er, he does know that Disney REALLY likes the month of December for their Star Wars movies, right?