James Cameron Says Each 'Avatar' Sequel Must Succeed On Its Own

Show of hands, who is really excited for James Cameron's Avatar sequels? Anybody? It's been a long time since Cameron hit the $2.7B mark with the first movie in 2009, and I think opinions on it have soured. Record breaking it may have been, but there wasn't a lot of demand to see more. Cameron has been steadfast in returning to the world of Pandora, though, but even he recognizes, as voiced in a new Vanity Fair piece, that none of the four proposed sequels are guaranteed. Each film will need to be successful to see his entire vision through to the end...

"It was highly optimistic that we could start quickly until scripts are written. If there’s no scripts, there’s nothing, right? The scripts took four years. You can call that a delay, but it’s not really a delay because from the time we pushed the button to really go make the movies [until now,] we’re clicking along perfectly. We’re doing very well because of all the time that we had to develop the system and the pipeline and all that. We weren’t wasting time, we were putting it into tech development and design. So when all the scripts were approved, everything was designed. Every character, every creature, every setting. In a funny way it was to the benefit of the film because the design team had more time to work."

He continued...

"Most of the actors, the key principals, have all read all four scripts, so they know exactly what their character arcs are, they know where they’re going, they know how to modulate their arc now across the first two films. We all know where we’re supposed to be dramatically in the saga, and that’s great. Let’s face it, if ‘Avatar 2‘ and ‘3‘ don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a ‘4‘ and ‘5.’ They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, ‘Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.’ Even though that all worked and everybody did.”

It's worth noting that most of Cameron's career has been about exceeding expectations. Nobody thought Avatar would be a hit much less the highest-grossing movie of all time. If anybody can quiet the critics, of which I am definitely one, it's Cameron so I should probably keep my skepticism to myself.

Avatar 2 opens December 18th 2020.