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‘Avatar’ Sequel Required Sigourney Weaver and Kate Winslet Hold Their Breath for Over 5 Minutes

Because there's such an emphasis on the ocean, Cameron didn't want to employ the general techniques used to simulate filming underwater.

James Cameron on the set of "Avatar"

James Cameron on the set of “Avatar”

20th Century Fox. All rights reserved/Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s taken over a decade for director James Cameron to put together his numerous “Avatar” sequels, but we’re getting closer to seeing the finished product and the director is sharing some news on the project.

The “Titanic” director discussed how “Avatar 2,” coming to theaters next December, will expand the geography of the fictional land of Pandora and go underwater. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cameron discussed how, like the first film with its cautionary tale about deforestation, the sequel will have an eye towards promoting ocean conservation. “I do the ocean thing when I’m not making movies,” he said. “So if I could combine my two greatest loves — one of which is ocean exploration; the other, feature filmmaking — why wouldn’t I?”

Because there’s such an emphasis on the ocean, Cameron didn’t want to employ the general techniques used to simulate filming underwater, what Cameron calls “dry for wet.” “I said, ‘It’s not going to work. It’s not going to look real,'” he said. “I even let them run a test, where we captured dry for wet, and then we captured in water, a crude level of our in-water capture. And it wasn’t even close.”

Instead, the cast didn’t just become accomplished scuba divers, they also learned to free dive to limit the air bubbles and apparatus required to film. Cameron alumnus Sigourney Weaver, whose role is top secret, was able to hold her breath for over six minutes to film her scenes. Actress Kate Winslet, reteaming with Cameron after their pairing in “Titanic,” held her breath for over seven minutes. “One of my favorite memories was we had this circular tank, maybe 40 feet wide, with a big glass portal in it. I walked by one day and I see Kate Winslet walking on the bottom of the tank,” producer Jon Landau said in the interview. “She’s walking towards me and sees me in the window, and she just waves, gets to the end of the wall, turns around, and walks all the way back.”

Cameron admits in the interview he’s worried about the changing entertainment landscape he’s releasing his sequels into. “The big issue is: Are we going to make any damn money,” Cameron said. Here’s hoping audiences don’t respond to them like John Oliver.

“Avatar 2” debuts in theaters December 16, 2022.

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