In less than three weeks, Avatar will be back on our cinema screens in a version that is – according to James Cameron who, really, should know – 9 minutes longer than the prior cut, not the previously publicised 8 and pumped up with all performance capture footage. But 8, 9 minutes is a mere drop in the Avatar ocean. Coming somewhere down the line are hours more.
In an interview with MTV, Cameron has revealed that he’s been talking with Fox about shooting a pair of Avatar sequels, back-to-back.
Avatar 2… we’re still working on deals. We don’t start the movie until we get the deals for it done. I’m taking notes, I’m not sitting idle… We’re actually talking about [doing 2 and 3] back to back. That’s not a decision yet but that’s something that makes a lot of sense given the nature of these productions because we can bank all the capture and go back and do cameras over a period of time.
There’s another interview with Cameron at Marketsaw, wherein the writer-director offers another update on his progress in planning the follow up:
I have an overall narrative arc for 2 and 3, and there’s some modifications to that based on my experiences of the last few months from having gown down to the Amazon and actually hung out with these various indigenous groups who are actually living this type of story for real. And that’s influencing a little bit, and having talked a lot with indigenous leaders is influencing a little bit but it’s not changing the overall pattern.
Bring them on.
To bridge the gap between the Special Edition and these sequels, Cameron is also working on another DVD release, with deleted scenes, and his Avatar novel. Again, this is from his MTV conversation:
We just went back for a DVD supplement deleted scenes I actually went back and did another day of camera to fill in some scenes that were otherwise complete but didn’t have cameras on a couple of key moments.
To clarify, what he’s talking about is selecting the position and movement (and lens, and etc.) of a virtual camera, selecting how the motion captured footage from the original performance sessions will appear on screen.
Regarding the novel, Cameron makes it clear between these interviews that the novel corresponds to the events in the first film but fleshes out the world and back stories more deeply. I’d imagine he’s having to invent very little new material – an early cut of Avatar was six hours plus.
This novel would then serve as a bible for other writers coming onboard and creating their own stories in the Avatar universe, something Cameron seems quite keen on. It’s a bit of a George Lucas play, but with the right writers, of course, could be a roaring success.