The voyage from Earth to Pandora takes about six years. It looks like James Cameron will only need five to return to "Avatar." The writer/director has officially set up two "Avatar" sequels as his next projects, with the first arriving in December 2014 and the second opening in December 2015.
"[W]e will not back off the throttle of 'Avatar's' visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters," Cameron said in a statement on Wednesday morning (October 27).
Themes and characters, you say? Well, that's not terribly revealing at all. Thankfully, Cameron and his cohorts have previously spilled details about what we can expect from the upcoming installments of "Avatar." Here's everything we know so far about the sequels.
Exploring Oceans and Other Planets
We got a taste of Pandora's marine world when Sam Worthington's Jake Sully plunged down a waterfall, but the plot took place almost exclusively on the ground and in the air. According to Cameron, "Avatar 2" will plunge into Pandora's oceans.
"Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment — a different setting within Pandora," he said. "And I'm going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won't be a rainforest."
Cameron later told MTV News that he plans to film footage underwater to capture what will become Pandora's oceans. "I think what we should do there is — because we'll have to have characters that are in and under the water — is that we should actually capture them underwater," Cameron told MTV News. "It's not the same as going diving, but I like to keep my diving, which I do for pleasure, separate from work."
While "Avatar" focused strictly on Pandora, an alien moon, "Avatar 3" will likely begin to explore other planets. "We created a broad canvas for the environment of film," Cameron has said. "That's not just on Pandora, but throughout the Alpha Centauri AB system. And we expand out across that system [in subsequent films] and incorporate more into the story — not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film."
Jake and Neytiri — and Maybe Grace — Return
At the end of "Avatar," Jake ends up abandoning his human body and transferring his consciousness to his Na'vi avatar, allowing him finally to be truly together with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). The next two films will continue to tell their story.
"We'll follow Jake and Neytiri," Cameron told us.
Who else will return? Sigourney Weaver's character, scientist Grace Augustine, appeared to die toward the end of the film. But Weaver has said we shouldn't assume Grace won't pop up in some form in the sequels.
"It's always a mistake in science fiction to make these judgments on the dead," Weaver told MTV News "You didn't really see her die. What you saw was ... something happen. I think that [James Cameron] wants all of this to be a surprise, but don't buy the funeral wreath quite yet."
The Development Process So Far
In his statement, Cameron announced he will begin writing the sequels early next year. We already know he's got a hefty head start on the process. He's written hundreds of pages of notes about where the story will go.
"I have a trilogy-scaled arc of story right now, but I haven't really put any serious work into writing a script," he told us in December 2009.
And just because the scripts have not been finished does not mean preproduction cannot begin. They'll begin work on creature and environment development "as soon as Jim locks in on some of those notes," producer Jon Landau explained to us. "We don't have to wait for a script for that. And there are also certain things we designed from the last movie that didn't make it in that I'm sure will make it in on the next movie."
Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."
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