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Thread: James Cameron And Jon Landau Tell Bleeding Cool About The Avatar Sequels And Spin-Offs

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    Default James Cameron And Jon Landau Tell Bleeding Cool About The Avatar Sequels And Spin-Offs

    This Friday, Titanic returns to the big screen in a rather impressive new 3D version. Yesterday we had a masterclass from the film's writer-director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau on how to handle a 2D to 3D conversion correctly, and what the process can do for an audience.

    Today, let's take a little detour and talk about their other Most Successful Film of All Time, Avatar. Or perhaps more accurately, its two upcoming sequels, theme park, novel, comic book, TV and animated spin-offs. Sounds like there might be an awful lot of Avatar coming our way over the next five years or so.

    Here's some of what James and Jon had to tell me about their imminent return to Pandora.

    Jon Landau: We have a facility we?ve taken over, Manhattan Beach Studios, which we?re turning into a state of the art performance capture facility with a much better tool set than we had the first time.

    We?re already working with Joe Letterri and his Weta Digital team. We?re making the facility as eco-friendly as possible. We?ve put solar panels on the roof, we?ve gotten rid of plastic water bottles, the lights are on motion sensors and can?t come on unless somebody is in the room.

    We have already made a commitment that the Avatar sequels will have underwater sequences, inspired as much by time Jim has spent scuba diving as his expedition to the Mariana Trench. And we?re working on a way to do performance capture underwater right now. We have some really good people working on that. We set the problems, bring in people and say ?Attack it. Here?s what we want to do, and we believe you can do it? and then we just have to get them to believe they can do it too.

    James Cameron: Most of the work that?s being done right now is foundational. It?s rewriting the code and building the software tools, it?s not the creative work with the cast. That doesn?t start until later this year.

    We kind of reinvented the wheel with Avatar. Now it?s more refining the process. The story will be completely new and fresh with new characters and environments and creatures, but the actual methodology will be the same.

    Jon Landau: We will continue to follow Jake. It will be Jake and Neytiri together but there will be other characters that come in, both on the good side and the bad side. We will explore parts of the world you haven?t seen before. It?s fun and exciting.

    James Cameron: Laeta Kalogridis collaborated with me on a few scenes in the first Avatar, but she never really wrote drafts. I wrote the story, I wrote the first draft, she came in to help me solve a couple of narrative problems that I was having. I was having some problems just getting the story kickstarted and she had some good ideas. She wrote a line or two here or there, but it was pretty much a solo effort. I?m writing the sequels by myself.

    But we?re good collaborators. She had written the Battle Angel script and we work really well together. If I go shoot Battle Angel I?ll be shooting the script she wrote.

    Jon Landau: We?ve hired a woman by the name of Kathy Franklin, who will be based at Lightstorm, not at the studio, who is in charge of franchise development for us. She?s working out how we?re going to build the franchise between now and the sequels, then between the sequels and after the sequels. At the studio, they?re worried about tomorrow?s crisis. There?s no long-term thinking, so we brought the long term planning under our roof. We want to deliver to the fans what they?re looking for.

    The novel is something that will unlock the door for us to develop the property in other ancillary markets ? graphic novels, television, animation. Entertainment today goes beyond any one medium and with Avatar we have an opportunity to continue and expand the story of the world in all of these other media.

    We?re building a themed land with Walt Disney theme parks. Not just a ride, but a whole world where people will get to return to Pandora. This is initially going to be down in Orlando at the Magic Kingdom and what they?ve decided to do is not to put it at the Hollywood Studio but at The Animal Kingdom. The Animal Kingdom is about worlds, and the studio is about movies. This is about a world. We have some exciting ride development, and there?s going to be a multiple number of attractions there, and food and retail.

    Jim is definitely hands on with it all. Hands on with the design of it, hands on with what it?s going to be about. I don?t know if Jim will pick up a camera for the film elements of the attractions but he?s very involved in the story that?s going to be told.

    You can see Titanic 3D, or indeed Titanic 2D, back on the big screen from this Tuesday. Coming later in the week: more from James and Jon, and also a little something from Billy Zane.

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    Brendon, can you please explain WHY Avatar was so financially successful?

    Yes, the computer generated images were truly amazing and beautiful. But, that's all the movie had going for it. The performances were boilerplate. Nothing special from Sigourney Weaver. And the ironically named Worthington was just horrible. The plot was dumb. And the premise that a technologically inferior race can defeat an advanced one has to be executed in a credible manner and I don't think that James Cameron pulled it off. I think he failed miserably.

    As a technology demo, Avatar is fine, cool even. But as a story? It's just a mess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qward-O View Post
    Brendon, can you please explain WHY Avatar was so financially successful?

    Yes, the computer generated images were truly amazing and beautiful. But, that's all the movie had going for it. The performances were boilerplate. Nothing special from Sigourney Weaver. And the ironically named Worthington was just horrible. The plot was dumb. And the premise that a technologically inferior race can defeat an advanced one has to be executed in a credible manner and I don't think that James Cameron pulled it off. I think he failed miserably.

    As a technology demo, Avatar is fine, cool even. But as a story? It's just a mess.
    Like the Transformers movies, it is all about VFX/SFX appealing to the LCD. Considering the amount of money involved in making the movie, the studios are going to appeal to the largest audience possible. Safe story and safe actors/acting is one way.

    I saw Avatar once and while the visuals were truly stunning, the story and acting blew.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xdemon View Post
    Like the Transformers movies, it is all about VFX/SFX appealing to the LCD. Considering the amount of money involved in making the movie, the studios are going to appeal to the largest audience possible. Safe story and safe actors/acting is one way.
    That's not why Avatar was so successful, though. It just happened to hit theaters at a point when 3D was still in its infancy, and everybody was saying how revolutionary this film was in that regard. So all the normals were all like, "Well, I wanna get in on this -- what'd you call it agin? -- three-dee such and such, see what all the fuss is about." So a majority of those folks saw it in 3D. And since 3D tickets cost upwards of a hundred dollars a pop, sales were amazing. It also helped that the film came out during the holidays, so families were all riled up to show kids this newfangled technology.

    Which isn't to say that the CGI-action-movie-catering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator element didn't help any -- it did. It just wasn't the main reason Avatar managed to surpass Titanic in terms of $$$.
    Last edited by Benjamin1345; 04-04-2012 at 10:26 PM.

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    Man, Avatar. How bad was that? I finally saw it on DVD. Looked great, but man, that was awful. It made we want to chop a tree down in the rainforest. The military characters were comically terrible. So one-dimensional. By the end, I was hoping the military would kill all the aliens. At the beginning, I kind of liked them, but somehow I wanted themall to die at the end. You look at T2 and Aliens and go 'Wow, he's fallen a long way.'.

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    I'm still wondering if Cameron is writing the Avatar novelization or not. Last heard about it 2 years ago, but in James Cameron development time that's actually fairly recent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendon Connelly View Post

    We?ve put solar panels on the roof, we?ve gotten rid of plastic water bottles, the lights are on motion sensors and can?t come on unless somebody is in the room.[/I]
    I can just picture some numbnut plugging the rendering engines into the wrong power system and someone walks out of the room and loses 1 second of film that took 40 hours to render. lol.
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    Perhaps he could get John Smith to write the next movie script, it might have half a chance of actually being good in that case.
    Last edited by Locusmortis; 04-04-2012 at 10:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qward-O View Post
    Yes, the computer generated images were truly amazing and beautiful. But, that's all the movie had going for it.
    Cinema is a visual art form.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Mirrorball Man View Post
    Cinema is a visual art form.
    You tell em Steve-Dave! Fuck good stories and dialogue anyway!

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