The film franchise that went from being the most secret project in Hollywood to a billion dollar juggernaut in just twenty days of release is now about to go into overdrive.
In fact, James Cameron intends to follow the couple for another two films. "I have a trilogy-scaled arc of story right now, but I haven't really put any serious work into writing a script," he said. The next two films, however, won't replicate the four years of production time that Avatar took to perfect its motion-capture technology and computer-generated environments and beings. "Part of what we set out to do is create a world and create these characters," Cameron said. "From the time we capture and finish the capture, it's literally nine to 10 months to get the CG characters working, to get their facial musculature working. ... So now we have Jake, we have Neytiri. Sam can step right back into it, the characters will fit them like a glove, and we'll just go on. So a lot of the start-up torque that had to be done for one movie really makes more sense if you play it out across several films."
"We created a broad canvas for the environment of film. That's not just on Pandora, but throughout the Alpha Centauri AB system. And we expand out across that system and incorporate more into the story – not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film. I've already announced this, so I might as well say it: Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment – a different setting within Pandora. And I'm going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won't be a rain forest. I'm not saying we won't see what we've already seen; we'll see more of that as well"
Sigourney Weaver briefly stated that despite her characters death she would return; There her mind is essentially uploaded to this naturally occurring supercomputer, while her body is left to expire. "I'm not allowed to say anything," she repeated. "But if you look at the footage, I go somewhere, right?"
According to Avatar Producer Jon Landau there are two main factors that will go into Cameron's decision-making matrix on whether to do Avatar 2 next, according to Landau:
1) Cameron and Landau will sit down with Fox and see if they can "work out a common philosophy on the next film."
2) Which film project Cameron feels has the best script. Landau repeated the thing he's said a few times before: James Cameron has only made two sequels in his career (not counting Piranha 2) and in both cases, they were as good as the original, if not an improvement. He won't do an Avatar sequel unless the same thing is true. So he'll only venture into production on an Avatar sequel if he feels strongly that the script is excellent enough.
He might tackle Avatar, he might tackle Battle Angel, or he might jump on "some third, as yet unnamed project," says Landau.
James Cameron expects to release his next 3D film in three to four years, and it may be the Avatar sequel that News Corp executives have previously said they have discussed with him.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Cameron told the All Things Digital conference on Wednesday that his next movie could also be "some other big film" that uses 3D. He wants to push 3D technology to new levels with whatever project is next.