Avatar, as a movie, is fascinating — not because of what ended up on screen, but more that it made no impact on film culture overall. It made more money than the GDP of some small countries, yet the only time it ever comes up is when we're talking about that money. There doesn't appear to be much of a fandom, no one cosplays it, and whenever director James Cameron brings up his four sequels, people roll their eyes. Cameron, at least according to an interview on IGN, seems at least a little aware that he doesn't have much room for error considering the size of this production.
"It doesn't matter how much you dress it up with great production design and great visual effects. If the story is not working, if you don't connect to the characters, it's just simply not going to work," Cameron said.
Avatar was lightning in a bottle, and Cameron knows that trying to make it happen twice will be hard enough without playing it safe.
"Of course, we can't afford for it not to work, the budget level that we are dealing with. But, of course, you always have to give yourself permission as an artist to fail no matter what the stakes are," he added. "You've got to try stuff. The least safe thing you can do is try to be safe."
When asked what he learned from the first movie and is applying to the sequels, he's really leaning into the fantastic imagery — really the only thing people tend to remember from the movie.
"I think that the lesson for me from the first film that I've applied to the new films is that the more fantastic the imagery, the more otherworldly and the more you are pushing out to the edge of what's possible in terms of bringing imaginative imagery to the screen, the more it has to be grounded in relationship and in truth and in heart," he explained. "And so I'm hopefully doing that in spades with the new films."
Finally, Cameron spoke a little about his cast and his casting process. We know there is going to be a group of young actors, but he has also brought on big-name talent like Kate Winslet.
"I've got an incredible cast," he said. "I'm always very cognizant of the casting. I've worked very hard to cast this, to find some new, young actors coming up that have incredible heart and that are just amazing."
Avatar 2 will be released on December 18th, 2020. Avatar 3 will open December 17th, 2021, Avatar 4 is set of December 20th, 2024, and Avatar 5 will open December 19th, 2025.