Avatar stands as the single highest grossing film of all time (not adjusting for inflation.) There was never any doubt that there would be sequels to this 3D poster child. However there was some question as to how involved mastermind James Cameron would be and when he would get around to it. Cameron had put his initial time and effort into the novelization of the story and some wondered if he’d be too burned out on all things Avatar to want to direct the sequels himself. Even if Cameron did take the reigns there were several other possible projects that looked as though they might be made before any Avatar sequels.
Variety has reported that not only is Cameron directing a sequel, he’s directing two of them and they will be his next project. This puts to rest the rumors that he would first direct Cleopatra for Sony. That project is still expected to move forward and is likely to simply seek another director. This also means that Cameron’s long delayed adaptation of the Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita will have to wait at least a few more years before it sees any serious forward movement.
Release dates of December 2014 and 2015 have already been announced. This would seem to presume that the two sequels will be shot back to back though that has not been confirmed at this point. Cameron has yet to divulge much in the way of story details but he has said that each will serve as a stand alone story that will also contribute to a great overall story arc. This seems to indicate that Cameron is not planning to do one story cut into two pieces as was seen with the sequels to The Matrix and the upcoming two parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Earlier reports have hinted that at least one of the sequels will focus on Pandora’s oceans. Water in general is notoriously difficult to recreate using CGI technology, and creating the feeling of movement underwater without actually submerging actors has proven virtually impossible up to this point. Even films such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers were able to pull off convincing underwater scenes using green screen technology. To be fair those films were a few years ago, but they were using the cutting edge techiniques of the time. It will be interesting to see if Cameron can be the first to truly manage to create a believable underwater setting that is not actually shot under water.
Fans of Avatar are no doubt rejoicing that they’ll be able to be transported once again to the planet of Pandora at the hands of Cameron himself. There had been concern that Cameron would serve only as a producer and some other director would actually shoot the movies. It’s an open question as to whether there is any other director who can make use of the 3D cameras that Cameron himself helped create as well as he can. Now fans need not worry and can simply start counting the days until the next movie.