Aug. 01, 2013 | 12:22 p.m.

‘Avatar’: James Cameron now plans three sequels, hires writers

James Cameron has expanded his plans for his return trip to the world of “Avatar” — he’s now planning three sequels to the massive box office hit, and he’s bringing four new screenwriters along on the journey. Fox announced Thursday that Cameron has hired Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (“Rise of the Planets of the Apes”), and Shane Salerno (Savages, Salinger) to collaborate with him on the screenplays for the three films, all of which will be shot simultaneously, with production beginning next year. “Avatar 2″ is scheduled to be released in December 2016, with subsequent films following in December 2017 and December 2018. The Fox statement indicated that Cameron and Jon Landau will produce through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Lightstorm will again work with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital to […]
April 04, 2013 | 5:15 p.m.

Roger Ebert: A look back at five reviews of fan-favorite films

Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, has died. He was 70 years old. Here, Ebert attends the IFP Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., on March 22, 2003. (Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/MCT)
Film criticism lost a singularly significant voice Thursday with the death of Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 70. Earlier this week, Ebert had announced he would be taking a “leave of presence” from his writing, but the news of death shocked the film community, with many celebrities taking to Twitter to express their sad surprise and warm memories of the man who, with his longtime partner Gene Siskel, patented “two thumbs up” as a major cinematic endorsement. As a way to pay tribute to Ebert’s lasting legacy and influence, this seemed like a moment to reflect on his thoughts on five landmark fan-favorite movies, specifically, “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Matrix,” “Avatar” and “The Avengers.” Not all of them received an unqualified thumbs up. The following excerpts […]
Sept. 21, 2012 | 3:29 p.m.

James Cameron touts 3-D at home with ‘Avatar,’ ‘Titanic’ Blu-rays

James Cameron has a rule at his house — TV and movie viewing is a family event, not a solo pursuit. “More and more people, especially kids, are taking in their entertainment on tablets and laptops,” said the father of five and director of “Avatar” and “Titanic.” “It’s the, ‘I’m gonna isolate, single viewer’ kind of scenario. I’m not in favor of it personally, ’cause the family fragments…. Everybody’s got their own screen, their own experience.” Cameron has been thinking a lot about couch potato habits lately, as he attempts to help usher 3-D into homes with the introduction of 3-D Blu-ray versions of three of his movies this fall: a “Titanic” 3-D Blu-ray set was released Sept. 10; his Titanic documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss” hit stores Sept. 11; and an “Avatar” 3-D Blu-ray set will debut in North […]
Sept. 10, 2012 | 3:30 p.m.

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

Avatar (featured image)
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 […]
March 30, 2012 | 1:46 p.m.

James Cameron: ‘Avatar’ sequels to draw on ‘master navigators’

Avatar (featured image)
James Cameron’s alpha geek extracurricular hobby of deep-sea diving has always influenced his day job. The bioluminescent life on Pandora in “Avatar,” the story-framing voyage to the wreck in “Titanic” and the underwater traumas of “The Abyss” all emerged from how the director spends his downtime — way, way down in the ocean. Now Cameron’s recent record-setting solo dive to the Mariana Trench is providing further inspiration for the “Avatar” sequels, which will head to the oceans of Pandora. The filmmaker said the seven-year preparation for his dive–a plunge of nearly seven miles to the deepest point in the world in a torpedo-shaped, one-man submersible called the Deepsea Challenger — sparked ideas for the “Avatar” followups by exposing him to the small island nations of the Western Pacific where he staged the project. “The best inspiration I got for ‘Avatar’ […]
Sept. 21, 2011 | 6:39 a.m.

Cameron: Disney’s ‘Avatar’ land to look, feel, smell like Pandora

Avatar (featured image)
When James Cameron’s “Avatar” hit theaters in 2009, many moviegoers were so dazzled by the lush, 3-D world of the alien moon Pandora that they wanted to step right inside. Now the Walt Disney Co. is aiming to offer that kind of experience to its theme park patrons. Disney’s Imagineers are working with Cameron, his producing partner Jon Landau and studio 20th Century Fox to bring the fantasy world from “Avatar” to its theme parks, beginning with a multi-attraction themed land at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla. Though the attraction is still in its earliest development stages, Cameron has clear ideas about what he’d like any Pandoran land to include, which he shared in an interview on Tuesday. “I definitely want to do a flight attraction of some kind,” the director said, citing the “Soarin’ Over California” flying […]
June 06, 2011 | 2:03 p.m.

‘Avatar’ exhibit shows off the world-building that created Pandora

“Avatar” fans eager to revisit the lush alien rain forests of Pandora now have their chance with “AVATAR: The Exhibit,” which opened Saturday at Seattle’s EMP Museum. The show, like the more than $2 billion-grossing James Cameron film about humans colonizing a distant moon, is high-tech and interactive,  according to EMP Museum curator Brooks Peck. “‘Avatar’ fans would definitely enjoy [the exhibit], but we’re using it as a way to look at how filmmaking is changing,” Peck said. Visitors can transform into one of “Avatar’s” CG alien characters and act out a scene, create Pandoran plants with a kit based on scientific facts and walk by a life-size projection of the Pandoran forest where animated woodsprites react to human movements. Some key costumes and props from the film will be on display, including the 13.5-foot armored AMP suit worn by […]
May 26, 2011 | 1:08 p.m.

‘Avatar 2’: The James Cameron sequel finds a home

The sequel to “Avatar” will dive beneath the oceans of Pandora and perhaps visit neighboring moons as well, but the 2014 film will also be imprinted with the soul of Southern California, according to Richard Verrier of the Los Angeles Times business section. Verrier took a tour of the new home of the “Avatar” filmmaking team and its ambitions to follow up a film that pulled in a historic $2.8 billion in worldwide box office. Here’s an excerpt from Verrier’s report … Over the din of buzz saws and beeping forklifts, producer Jon Landau can barely contain his excitement as he strides into a 45-foot-tall sound stage that is barren except for workers building sets for a commercial shoot. “We’re taking over these two buildings here. We’ll have 200-plus people working down here. This is going to be the heart of the […]
April 20, 2011 | 11:00 a.m.

Mark your calendar: Thirteen sci-fi dates that tell us to fear the future

"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles"
Don’t bother making weekend plans — armageddon arrives Thursday. If you go by the lore of “Terminator” and the timeline set down by “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” the artificial intelligence of Skynet — the computer system commanding the entire U.S. military arsenal – went online Tuesday at 8:11 p.m. and began a 48-hour sequence of events that, well, doesn’t end well for us flesh-and-bone types. As you read this, Skynet is learning at an exponential rate and will soon recruit iPods, microwaves and missiles for its Thursday attack against humanity. If by some chance all of this doesn’t happen Thursday, we’re not out of the woods yet. After years of doomsday fantasy and fear-the-future science fiction, there are plenty of other red-letter days to mark down:. April 21, 2011 — Beware your gadgets “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2008-2009): Skynet becomes self-aware and begins “Judgment […]
Nov. 12, 2010 | 7:47 a.m.

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Watch deleted ‘Avatar’ hunting scene

Avatar sturmbeest hunt
Pandora completists will find plenty to gnaw on in the “Extended Collector’s Edition of Avatar” due Tuesday, including this lavish action scene of Jake, Neytiri and a band of Na’vi warriors hunting a herd of six-legged bioluminescent bovines called sturmbeests. The footage strengthens the case of those who liken “Avatar” to “Dances With Wolves” – Kevin Costner has a similar moment hunting buffalo with Native Americans in that film. The sturmbeests were supporting players in the original treatment James Cameron wrote for “Avatar” in 1995 and killing one was considered a rite of passage for the Na’vi. But they didn’t make the movie’s final cut. Instead the  sturmbeest hunt scene became part of the 16 new minutes Cameron added for his three-hour-long collector’s cut. The exhaustive three-disc set also includes an alternate opening on Earth, 45 minutes of deleted scenes […]
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