No one ever said that James Cameron has ever been in a hurry to do anything.
The time between his last two feature films — each of which became the biggest box office draws of all time — was 12 years. So should it be a surprise that the planned sequels for Cameron’s “Avatar” could take at least six, maybe seven, years to come to fruition?
“It’s about getting it right,” producer Jon Landau recently told Empire Online. “We’re not naming dates, but I think 2014 will be a tough date for us to make.”
That means the earliest fans might be able to see “Avatar 2” is 2015, maybe even 2016, which will put about a half-dozen years between the original 2009 film and the followups.
The second film is expected to hit Pandora’s oceans, and feature the return of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, likely as Na’vi, with humans once again serving as the bad guys. Cameron has also said that Sigourney Weaver, whose character dies in the first film, could actually return (this is science-fiction, right?)
But it seems even the producers don’t know when the “Avatar” sequels will be ready. Just three months ago, Landau told a reporter that “Avatar 2” was “four years away.” That would put the film in 2016.
So a move to 2015 would actually be an improvement, not a delay, as the first part of Landau’s latest quotes suggest.
Either way, work is actually moving quickly, at least by Cameron standards. Cameron first developed the concept of “Avatar” in 1994, writing an 80-page treatment. He didn’t know it then, but it would be another 15 years before he would make his movie, primarily because he was waiting for technology to catch up with the special effects vision he required to make such a project possible.
Cameron has since said he would like to make the sequels in half the time and half the cost of the previous ones, and if he is going from concept to execution, he might achieve the time aspect. It is doubtful, however, that even with advances in CGI since the late 2000s, that he will be able to produce both films under the same total $240 million budget as its predecessor.
Landau has been doing speaking engagements with the media to help promote the 3-D re-release of Cameron’s 1997 film “Titanic,” which had held the title of the biggest box office film of all time, until “Avatar” was released. The film opened Wednesday to $4.4 million, according to The Numbers, bringing its total gross to $605.5 million. However, it remains behind “The Hunger Games,” which generated $4.6 million that same day (but in 40 percent more screens), bringing its total up to $262.9 million.
“Avatar” made $760.6 million in domestic box office and $2.78 billion worldwide. Between “Titanic” and “Avatar,” Cameron has generated $4.6 billion in total worldwide box office. That’s almost as much as what the top three studios — Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures — earned in 2011 with 91 films … combined.