Once upon a time James Cameron was known for creative and innovative techniques that pushed the boundaries of filmmaking beyond the norm, in making movies that we enjoyed on many different levels, and could appreciate the artistic thought and expression that went into every frame. Now the man is obsessed with CGI and 3D filmmaking (which many regard as the bane of the current cinematic age), and has been off the map for years preparing 4 sequels to ‘Avatar,’ the middling CG franchise which was heralded as visionary when it first came out in 2009, but does not hold up nearly as well 7 years later, especially since the director skimped on story and focused almost exclusively on the 3D world of the film.
Now he is shooting 4 sequels to a film that is not even close to his finest work, and he is shooting them all concurrently (like a mini-series), which is a nightmare for production crew and cast members, who constantly bounce from one film’s script to another, trying to remember where in time their character currently is, and what has happened that has led up to that scene. To explain the insanity, Cameron has stated:
“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 [AVATAR scripts] 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.”
Clearly, I am already dreading the long slog through 4 sequels to ‘Avatar,’ and having to defend my opinion of the original once more to all those people who felt it was the greatest film of all time. At least Cameron has some humility, as he knows that his plan to release the films in December is going to be met with some competition from ‘Star Wars,’ which could potentially hurt his own film’s grosses (and with how expensive these massive sequels are, I’m sure Cameron is aware that he needs every penny he can get from box-office receipts). In his own words:
“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.”
As December is basically going to be ‘Star Wars’ month for the foreseeable future (even the ‘Star Wars’ films slated for May are rumored to be moved back to December), it will be tough for Cameron to hold onto the ‘Avatar’ audience, unless he really surprises everyone (especially me) by releasing sequels that are incredible, and far superior to the original, but since that rarely happens, we will just have to wait and see. Let us know your thoughts on Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ sequels in the comments below!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.