James Cameron: ‘Avatar’ sequels ‘a daunting writing task’

Sept. 10, 2012 | 3:30 p.m.
cameron James Cameron: Avatar sequels a daunting writing task

James Cameron visits the Titanic Belfast museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Sept. 7, 2012. (Peter Muhly / AFP / Getty Images)

James Cameron has always said the hardest part of moviemaking for him is the solitary, unforgiving process of writing, which is precisely where he finds himself now on the “Avatar” sequels.

Cameron has devoted most of the last several months to his many, globe-spanning, non-“Avatar” projects — making a record-setting dive to the Mariana Trench, converting “Titanic” to 3-D and expanding his 3-D production company into China. Now the director said he’s about to sequester himself in his “top secret writing cave” to finish the next two “Avatar” scripts by the end of the year.

“It’s a little bit of a daunting writing task because it’s two scripts and they’ve both gotta be done at the same time,” Cameron said in an interview last week, while promoting the 3-D Blu-ray release of “Titanic.”

Cameron plans to shoot the “Avatar” sequels concurrently, with an eye toward releasing the first film in 2015, a strategy that adds a magnitude of complexity to an already massive project. The sequels to Cameron’s film about life on the alien moon of Pandora will introduce new environments, creatures and characters, and will build on the technology Cameron and his crew developed for the first movie.

“I’m writing it as separate stories that have an overall arc inclusive of the first film,” Cameron said. “I don’t want to suffer from the ‘Matrix 2’ problem, where it just ends, like, what the hell? It’s gotta end. There’s gotta be a sense of conclusion, but also a sense that the journey will continue, and that’s a fine line.”

Sketching creatures and characters as he writes, the director is also mindful of the logistical challenges he faced on the first film. On that production, he and his crew spent years trying out new cameras, software and performance-capture techniques. On the set, there was a sign that read, “It’s Avatar. Nothing works the first time,” and along the way the crew kept a list — which eventually became a thick binder — of technical problems they would need to address if they ever made another “Avatar” film.

“It was this kludgy prototype the first time,” Cameron said, borrowing an engineering term for clunky. “We always knew as we were going along, this isn’t really working, but we’ll fix it for the sequel. The first film just about killed us, and now we’re gonna try to do twice that much.”

Cameron said he expects to begin pre-production on the next two “Avatar” films in January.

— Rebecca Keegan



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59 Responses to James Cameron: ‘Avatar’ sequels ‘a daunting writing task’

  1. @PostOnMc says:

    Let's get this straight. Cameron and his crew didn't "develop" or invent the technology they employed. They used it and refined its usage.

  2. Tom Hartman says:

    Lifeless, flat film, with characters no one cared about. Special FX without a heart.

    What a waste of money and time doing more of this. Ugh.

    • Guest says:

      Lol I guess that's why it's the highest grossing film of all time?

      • I <3 Avatar too but- says:

        Actually, the highest grossing film of all time was Gone with the Wind, but no one credits that b/c of inflation. If you were to bring up the inflation dollars for Gone with the Wind, you can see it is number one, with Avatar coming in at a close second.

    • Daniel says:

      no one cared about? Hmm… where is it in the box office charts again, oh yeah, #1

    • Casey says:

      please tell me what gives a movie "Life" if Avatar is "Lifeless"

    • movie goer says:

      u talkin about the transformer films?

    • George says:

      You got to be kidding! There is always 1 in a billion who will complain.
      It was "dances with wolves" in outer space!!

    • ford says:

      I am an Environmentalist. Truth is…the whole movie is about the ” gaia hyppthesis” or mother earth. If you cannot understand how the earth who is our mother works, u will never understand the movie and enjoy it. Take care of earth it will care for u. But attempt to destroy it and it will fight and extinguish you to save itself. Its dat simple. I see avatar as a genius master piece!!! I can’t ask for a better movie!!!

    • Chelsea says:

      I understand youre entitled to your opinion. But Avatar is movie the likes that no one has ever seen before. Yes its like a revamped dances with wolves to the literal sense but the amount of time and thought put into the creation of this epic adventure is extraordinary. Who else would put glowing plants and blue cat people together?

    • Guest says:

      Then why waste your time to read about or comment on the sequel?

  3. Guest says:

    I'm not sure why Cameron takes a shot at the second Matrix film which — like The Empire Strikes Back or The Two Towers — ends with a cliff hanger. Not such a bad thing when the third Matrix film was released only six months later.

    • Difference being that Matrix Reloaded didnt end with a good cliffhanger… it just… ended and you sat there like…. "what? thats it?!"

    • qwertyu says:

      Just throwing this out there. Being that 'The Lord of the Rings' is a single story, split up into three parts, both 'The Two Towers' AND 'The Fellowship of the Ring' ended with a sort-of cliff hanger.

    • Stonefox says:

      He's right! I saw it again just a couple of days ago and at the end I said WTF. To make matters worse I couldn't download Evolutions commercials free. Be that as it may, I thoroughly enjoyed it —- again.

  4. Jordan says:

    Been waiting on this film for quite some time!

  5. Judine Hearn says:

    I am just so glad there will be more blue people !!!

  6. Arterium says:

    Cameron is an uncompromising genius.

  7. Demons Bain says:

    2 Avatar Films? Seriously? I was expecting like 10 or 20 more Avatar Films

  8. Mark P says:

    Avatar was an awesome film. My favorite Sc-Fi film ever. I look forward to the two sequels which I am sure will be spectacular blend of sci-fi, action, drama, mystery and romance.

  9. bobby Love says:

    I cant wait for the next Avatar, if its anythiung like the first I'm sure it will be the bomb.

  10. Ann says:

    Back to one of his beginning comments about "expanding his 3-D Co. into China!!! Why are people so against giving our own people in our own country jobs? I LOVE AVATAR, by the way. I was a great fan of the first Avatar movie and look forward to the next and next. But PLEASE…I steer away from anything that has Made in China written on it. Go USA!

    • Brian Demro says:

      The reason behind most of our jobs going over to China is because of how high our Minimum wage is and because of a lot of over-regulation and a lot of bs legalities that goes it to producing and shooting movies here in the US. If James wants to go over to China. It is gonna be cheaper for us Americans in the long run. Go American inginuity and go Avatar

    • Guest says:

      Finally somebody who thinks like me.

  11. RedDevil1137 says:

    Everyone wants to be a critic. Yea matrix 2 was good. But it did end like “wtf”! I think it’s a great idea to have another avatar movie not to mention 2more. Avatar is one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. I really got into it. 2 thumbs up

  12. cheryl says:

    Bravo James, I hope the Muses help you…

  13. Luna Serrano says:

    James we want Avatar 2. Avatar is the best movie of all times…

  14. John foley says:

    What's going on here? Cameron didn't invent the technology? Charles Chaplin didn't invent the camera and James Joyce didn't invent the pen.
    For my money, and I saw Avatar three times, it had miles of heart. Before this I had never returned to the cinema a second time to view a film. In this case I felt compelled to share the experience with a few friends. They loved it as well. The only negative response I have ever heard came from someone who i know to have little imagination or heart.
    I'll be looking forward to 2 & 3.

  15. Karl martin says:

    I loved the first film and have it on dvd. I have seen it over 30 times, i cannot wait for the second. It be great to see an albino nav’i with an albino ikran who are negleted by there clans…. Please carry on making fantastic movies

  16. Kaye Vaughner says:

    AVATAR is the best movie I have ever seen. I saw it in I-Max which I strongly recommend. I took several friends and relatives to see it because they thought they wouldn't like it but they loved it and like me we are all waiting for the next one.

    • Stonefox says:

      Exactly my sentiments. When I said that on Yahoo people weren't all that impressed, but I'll say it again it's the greatest movie ever. I saw it on my enormously big outreageously expensive flat screen TV, but I'm going to see the next one in an I-Max theater.

  17. Tom T says:

    Sure wish I had been an investor!

  18. Krystal G says:

    I am EXTREMELY excited to hear that there will be more Avatar movies. When the first one ended, I knew deep down there would be another one. Then i heard it on the radio one day and it really got my hopes up. I waited, and waited, and waited but I never heard anything else about it. It does make me feel a little down about it being in 2015 but now i have something to look forward to in the years to come. I especially like the comment by Karl who suggested an albino nav'i and ikran. That sounds like it would be very interesting.

  19. RAJESH says:

    AWESOME……… !!

  20. dipali chauhan says:

    Avtar Part-2 . . :/’?

  21. dipali chauhan says:

    I m weiting Avtar part 2 .plz rilyse dat to avtar movis…?

  22. Sjaakie says:

    decent movie with terribad storyline…

  23. Linda Utech says:

    Avitar was my most favorite movie ever!! I am just said the sequel is going to take so long…

  24. Joshua Benjestorf says:

    Are you kidding me? We have to wait until 2015!?!?

  25. Cheryl Vroom says:

    Mr. Cameron is expanding his company into China not leaving the USA.

  26. Angel says:

    Er…guys, i was under the impression that Avatar was a kid's movie made for children and Cameron did not write an original screenplay, he simply copied many elements from a French graphic novel published long before his movie was ever made. I will let you guys guess the name of the French graphic novel which incidentally happens to be more beautiful and a heck of a lot more intelligent and mature than Avatar can ever dream to be (pun intended).

  27. sangam says:

    Unimaginably imaginative film….sangam

  28. Mom of 4 says:

    I would have to disagree with the comment on Cameron's Avatar characters as lifeless and flat. I believe nothing is further from the truth. Cameron, unlike many other producers of our day, has the ability to suck you into his films because he creates characters with diverse emotions. There is a reason why both Titanic and Avatar were ground breaking in the amount of times viewers went to these films. He created films with the central theme being one of humanity and compassion. I think he is a genius. I am currently in the process of writing a novell set in the ocean. If it ever becomes published..There is only one person who I would want to make the film, and that would be James Cameron. Not only for his knowledge and love of the ocean, and all the secrets that exist there, but also because he has the ability make you love his characters and feel a connection with them. I am grateful for the art that he has blessed us with. If he ever reads this, I want him to know he made a difference in the life of a stay at home mom. He made me feel something when I went to the movies, and for that I am grateful:)

  29. Thushan says:

    Mr.James Cameron, we want AVATAR second part.Lot's of people need it around the world.Please make it as soon as possible.AVATAR is my favorite.please do it.

  30. Stonefox says:

    I've said it many times and I'll say it again Avatar was the greatest movie ever and My personal favorite. It had everything romance, bigotry, big business, small countries fighting against incredible odds, patroitism, etc. It just doesn't get any better.

  31. carey palmer says:

    i am so glad to see that there will be a couple sequels to avatar … i hope that the message will get across … too many seemed to get it but didn’t seem to want to really understand … life is precious … the wealth of this world is not in the ground, it is all around us, including it people

  32. Nina MerklinPO says:

    I'm a 65 year old grandmother, and I can't wait for another Avatar movie! The scope of the imagination it takes to flesh out a whole society leaves me awe struck!

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