James Cameron has sailed the "Titanic," gone into outer space with "Aliens" and traveled through time with "Terminator." But it looks like the director has committed a large portion of his upcoming cinematic career to the world of "Avatar," to the point where he says he's no longer going to even be considering new feature film projects.
The director recently chatted with The New York Times and revealed that while he'll continue his scientific research and documentary work, on the movie front, "Avatar" has become the central focus through which he'll be telling the stories he wants to share and using the technology he continues to develop. And that's not all. Back in the fall of 2010, it was announced that "Avatar 2" and "Avatar 3" would be his next films, but it looks like he's tossing around the idea of adding one more sequel on there which will certainly make the suits over at 20th Century Fox very, very happy.
"I’ve divided my time over the last 16 years over deep ocean exploration and filmmaking. I’ve made two movies in 16 years, and I’ve done eight expeditions. Last year I basically completely disbanded my production company’s development arm. So I’m not interested in developing anything. I’m in the 'Avatar' business. Period. That’s it. I’m making 'Avatar 2,' 'Avatar 3,' maybe 'Avatar 4,' and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts," Cameron said about his future plans. "And that all sounds I suppose a little bit restricted, but the point is I think within the 'Avatar' landscape I can say everything I need to say that I think needs to be said, in terms of the state of the world and what I think we need to be doing about it. And doing it in an entertaining way. And anything I can’t say in that area, I want to say through documentaries, which I’m continuing. I’ve done five documentaries in the last 10 years, and I’ll hopefully do a lot more. In fact, I’m doing one right now, which is on this, the Deep Sea Challenge project that we just completed the first expedition. So that’ll be a film that’ll get made this year and come out first quarter of next year."
While we'll have to see if "Avatar 4" becomes a reality, this is certainly big news for the 57-year-old director, indicating that (arguably) at least the next six or seven years (maybe longer) will see him tied up with "Avatar." While "Avatar 2" was originally slated for a 2014 release, recently producer Jon Landau indicated that it might not make that release date and could be coming further down the line. And given these films are massive, technology-pushing productions that — if the first film is anything to go by — require extensive scheduling, it's easy to see why Cameron isn't bothering to put anything else on his potential plate.
We also wonder what this might mean for "Battle Angel," the long-brewing adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's 12 popular Japanese graphic novels. It was only last month that Cameron told MTV he still intends to direct the project and that he wouldn't be handing it off to anybody else. But realistically, we're looking at two or possibly three more movies before he gets around to it (unless he makes it between sequels, though that doesn't really seem likely). And there is still a lot of work to be done to get the "Avatar" movies even ready to even shoot.
"We’ve spent the last year and a half on software development and pipeline development. The virtual production methodology was extremely prototypical on the first film. As then, no one had ever done it before and we didn’t even know for two and half years into it and $100 million into it if it was going to work. So we just wanted to make our lives a whole lot easier so that we can spend a little more of our brainpower on creativity. It was a very, very uphill battle on the first film," Cameron explained. "So we’ve been mostly working on the tool set, the production pipeline, setting up the new stages in Los Angeles, setting up the new visual effects pipeline in New Zealand, that sort of thing. And, by the way, writing. We haven’t gotten to the design stage yet. That’ll be the next."
So, it looks like Cameron is making the biggest franchise project of his entire career and committing his full time and attention to seeing it through, using the best tools available. We'll be curious to see the result, but you bet there is a lot more Pandora on the way.