There's no doubt that Avatar was a worldwide cultural phenomenon, breaking box office records and continuing to be the highest grossing film of all time. This was due in no small part to the stunning visual effects, which helped cinematic technology advance across the board.
Considering the gigantic success of the film, Avatar 2 was a no brainer, but the sequel(s) have proved a long, long time in the making: first slated for release in 2014, Avatar 2 has since been rescheduled to December 2016, and now pushed back again to 2017. With James Cameron developing all new technology for the film, and the scripts only just nearing completion, we're going to have to wait a while before we journey back to Pandora. But will the film be worth the wait?
Avatar's secret to success was definitely the fantastic world of Pandora: viewers were so enthralled with the alien landscape, and so immersed in it thanks to 3D and IMAX, that many suffered from a strange post-Pandora depression after the film was over.
Following such an influential first movie may seem challenging, but James Cameron is determined to rise to the occasion, promising new locations that will wow us even more. While Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 could explore Pandora's neighbouring moons, much of the Avatar 2 story will be set on, and under, its oceans...
"WETA is working out underwater performance capture for underwater scenes. It's going to be like the Floating Mountains in the first movie. It's not going to be all underwater; it's going to be a place we go to, leave and come back to."
James Cameron has revealed that other Na'vi cultures will also be discovered, and presumably some of these will be seafaring people. Inspired by his submarine trip into the Marianas Trench, Cameron intends to incorporate aspects of Micronesian culture into Avatar 2...
"The best inspiration I got for ‘Avatar’ 2 and 3 was dealing with the master navigator culture in Micronesia."
We've seen the Na'vi take to the skies, now will we experience epic storms and fantastic submersible vehicles?
But that's not all Cameron is promising for Avatar 2: apparently the writer/director has an impressive story to tell, throwing himself into the process completely, as Variety discovered when they visited his studio.
"It’s a room…which is covered floor to ceiling with images, characters, worlds, settings. It’s the most amazing, breathtaking thing you’ve ever seen. His challenge is to put all of that in a movie."
Known for his impressive attention to detail, James Cameron is clearly preparing some very impressive follow up films. So what do we know about the sequels so far?
Plot Teasers & Surprising Returns
Not much about the story has been revealed, but naturally Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will be reprising their roles of Jake and Neytiri.
We're also going to see more of a "family story" according to producer Jon Landau, and despite their exodus from Pandora it seems those pesky humans will be returning...
"I think you will definitely have humans in the sequel. There are going to be good humans, there are going to be bad humans; there are going to be good Na'vi, There are going to be bad Na'vi..."
One of the most surprising returning characters is definitely Sigourney Weaver's Dr Grace Augustine, whose death was one of the more poignant moments of the first Avatar film. Apparently her rebirth will be quite "transformative", and Weaver is excited to reprise her role.
"Jim says no one ever dies in science fiction. He's told me the stories for the next two movies, and I have to say that they're absolutely wonderful and there's a real treat in store. Now we just have to make them."
Making them does seem to be the challenge, but despite the perpetual set backs, the good news is that Avatars 2, 3, and 4 are all being shot back to back. So once Avatar 2 is finally released, we should get a steady stream of sequels with only a year gap between them. Until then, at least there's a new Avatar comic to keep us busy!