Don’t you dare call sequels cheap or creatively bankrupt, because Twentieth Century Fox chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has something to say about it. He’s head of the first studio to cross $3 billion worldwide this year, and that’s certainly due to sequels like “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” and “X-Men: Days Of Future Past.” For Gianopulos, sequels provide an opportunity to continue telling a story that audiences are already invested in.
“One of the things that makes sequels so successful is that they start from a place where people already like what you did before. But part of what they liked, and part of the appeal of the first film, was its originality,” he told Variety. “You have to give them a new story. You have to give them new characters. You have to take (a sequel) to a place that restores its freshness and originality.”
And so you can get a better idea of why Fox is moving ahead with three “Avatar” sequels (besides the fact it’s one of the most successful films of all time). And Gianopulos is putting his money where his mouth is, with some reports pegging the budgets of the sequels at $1 billion dollars. “We know it’s going to be a long journey,” the studio chief said. “We know it’s not going to be cheap. We know it’s not going to be without new discoveries and new challenges in the process of producing something that is so beyond the normal form of filmmaking and technology, but what could be more exciting than that.”
As for director James Cameron, he’s relishing the opportunity dig deep thematically, insisting the followups are no mere cash grab. “There’s nothing I need to say as an artist about the state of the world and human affairs that I can’t do through the lens of the ‘Avatar’ universe,” he says. “We’ve had a couple of years to think through the story arc of the next three films, and every day that goes by, I believe in the stories I’m telling more and more. We’re not coming out of the block fast to capitalize on the last film.”
Indeed, “Avatar 2” isn’t slated to hit theaters until 2016, seven years after audiences first visited Pandora. But will they want to return again? Tell us if you want to go back below.