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Avatar 2
Film information
Directed by

James Cameron

Produced by

Jon Landau
James Cameron

Written by

James Cameron
Josh Friedman

Starring

Sam Worthington
Zoë Saldaña
Joel David Moore
Sigourney Weaver
CCH Pounder
Stephen Lang

Cinematography

Russell Carpenter[1]

Editing by

James Cameron

Studio

Lightstorm Entertainment

Distributed by

20th Century Fox

Release Date(s)

December 17, 2021[2]

Running Time

Unknown

Language

English

Budget

Unknown

Gross Revenue

Unknown

Preceded by

Avatar

Followed by

Avatar 3

Avatar 2 is one of four planned sequels to the 2009 film Avatar, set to be released in December 2021. The film has been under development since 2010.[3] Cameron has already confirmed the sequel,[4] originally intended to be shot before Alita: Battle Angel[5], which came out in 2019.

TitleEdit

James Cameron has previously stated that the film will likely not be entitled "Avatar 2", since Jake is no longer an avatar at the end of the first movie, but rather a Na'vi.[6] No final title has yet been announced officially, but an April 2016 press release featured an "Avatar" logo, shown above. Additionally, a November 2018 BBC article claimed that the title would be Avatar: The Way of Water. Cameron later explained in a February 2019 ET interview that the title was one of many under consideration and no final decision about titles had been made yet.[7][8][9]

PlotEdit

Cameron has said in a statement to THR: "In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of Avatar's visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world. I'm looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild."[10]

In 2015, Jon Landau confirmed that humans would be returning in the sequel. 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...[11] He also mentioned that there was going to be "action" as well as a "family story". During CineEurope 2017, Landau mentioned that the Sully family would be at the center of all four movies.[12]

Avatar 2 will explore the oceans of Pandora, and the team has been developing underwater motion capture technology for this purpose. He also confirmed that Avatar 2 will explore the Na'vi culture more than Avatar. "WETA is working out underwater performance capture for underwater scenes." Landau said, "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."[13] James Cameron stated in 2017 that underwater elements will be most dominant in Avatar 2 and 3, but will be ongoing into Avatar 4 and 5.[14]

In 2013, James Cameron also stated that the style would be influenced by the master navigator culture of the small pacific civilizations of Micronesia. He was exposed to these cultures during his time on these islands during preparation for his dive in the Marianas Trench.[15] In 2018, Cameron said that the Metkayina clan, an oceanic-based clan of Na'vi introduced in Avatar 2, were "abstractly" based off of Micronesian culture. Cliff Curtis, who portrays the Metkayina leader Tonowari, brought in elements of his Moari background into his portrayal of the character. Curtis also introduced an interpretation of the Moari haka war dance, adjusted to implement the body structure and tail of the Na'vi.[16]

Throughout 2010, there were numerous interviews on the film, stating that it would contain volcanoes[17] and would take place several years after the events of the original film.[18] However, it is worth noting that the script was not completed until seven years after this date, so this may no longer be accurate.

The plot of Avatar 2 will be a "fully-encapsulated" standalone narrative, as will the other sequels, but will also be part of a meta-narrative that extends across Avatar 2 to 5. The meta-narrative was originally intended to extend across Avatar 2-4 before the announcement of the fifth film.[19][20]

During promotion for The Shack in February 2017, Sam Worthington mentioned that Avatar 2 will take place eight years after the events of the original film. He also mentioned it having a family narrative while being "bigger" than the first film.[21] On the Empire Podcast's Avatar documentary episode, Cameron mentioned a martial dispute between Jake and Neytiri, "very, very critical to the storyline", shot from the perspective of their youngest child peeking in on the argument while hiding.[22]

During promotion for his AMC show Visionaries in January 2018, James Cameron discussed the amount of care being taken in the sequels, emphasizing the importance of having plots and characters people can connect with and not banking solely on immersive visual effects.[23]

ProductionEdit

Avatar 2 behind the scenes

A brief glimpse of the set for the sequel, as shown at the D23 Expo in Japan.

WritingEdit

"I've had a storyline in mind from the start - there are even scenes in Avatar that I kept in because they lead to the sequel," Cameron said. "It just makes sense to think of it as a two or three film arc, in terms of the business plan. The CG plants and trees and creatures and the musculo-skeletal rigging of the main characters - that all takes an enormous amount of time to create. It'd be a waste not to use it again."

The film's story, schedule and scope have evolved dramatically over the course of its development. The core team participated in numerous interviews throughout 2010, detailing their ambitious plans to produce a sequel with a much shorter production time and a lower budget than the original. Cameron hinted that the heroes will venture to some of Polyphemus's other moons in the film, an idea that was ultimately removed from the story.[24]

Throughout the following years, the story was redefined and expanded, in part due to "overwriting", and the vision for the franchise slowly shifted from a trilogy to a pentalogy.[25] "the characters, settings and creatures" were "pretty much set" by early 2015.[26] Script writing for the four sequels concluded in February 2017.[27]

DelaysEdit

We weren’t wasting time, we were putting it into tech development and design. So when all the scripts were approved, everything was designed. Every character, every creature, every setting.

- James Cameron, 2017[28]

Cameron continued writing the script alone through at least February 2013,[29] but announced that summer that he would be co-writing the film with Josh Friedman. The script work for the trilogy continued through at least December 2015.[30] In October 2013, shooting plans were for fall 2014,[31] however by the end of that year the underwater motion capture technology was still at the drawing board level.[32] Filming ultimately commenced in September 2017, over five years behind the original plan.[33] Cameron held a pragmatic view about the delays, as crucial tech development and design were done in the time it took the scripts for the four sequels to be written.[20]

When asked about his involvement with the ongoing franchise in April 2015, James Horner stated that he would stay with it through its entire run "If I last that long".[34] Tragically, James Horner died in a plane crash that June.[35] In March 2019, Jon Landau responded to a fan question about Avatar sequel scoring, saying there was "no decision yet" as to who Horner's replacement would be.[36]

To date, the release has been moved seven times, from its original date in December 2014 through to a December 2020 slot. One of those delays was subject to speculation of a clash with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which had in turn been rescheduled into the same slot.[37] The fifth delay in April 2016 was announced along with the fourth planned sequel.

On May 7, 2019, Disney announced updates to their theatrical release slate. These updates included another delay for Avatar 2 and the other Avatar sequels. Avatar 2's current release date is December 17, 2021. The plan involves a Star Wars movie and an Avatar movie alternating in the Christmas slot until 2027- with Avatar releases in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.

Avatar2 delays

Months remaining until the most recently announced release date over time. Spikes represent delays, while the gap represents a time when the movie had no firm date.

Release Date Changes
Announcement date Release date
October 10, 2010 December 2014[38]
September 10, 2012 2015[39]
August 2, 2013 December 2016[40]
January 14, 2015 Summer 2018[41]
April 14, 2016 December 2018[42]
March 9, 2017 No firm date[43]
April 22, 2017 December 18, 2020[44]
May 7, 2019 December 17, 2021[45]

Pre-production and technological developmentEdit

In January 2017, James Cameron stated that he was transitioning from writing to the "active prep" process, with motion capture filming planned for August and his involvement in production every day up until then. Cameron also mentioned the motion capture volume was already running and design work was completed.[46] Casting news site My Entertainment Work listed a August 15th start date for filming in Manhattan Beach, California.[47] According to Saldana, shooting would probably run from then through till early 2018. [48]

Weta Digital formally announced they had begun work on the four Avatar sequels on July 30th, 2017.[49] In August 2017, Cameron confirmed that the sequels were in "full tilt" production, with actors going through the virtual sets to help give Cameron information on the scale, position, and lighting for scenes. After the virtual "scouting" shoots, Cameron entered rehearsals with the principal cast at the end of September.[50]

The first successful run of the underwater motion capture technology, after extensive testing, took place on November 14, 2017. The scene involved featured the new generation cast, who were trained for six months so that they could hold their breath for long periods. As a result, the cast can hold their breath within the two to five minute range and act underwater without the need for scuba gear. Cameron was quoted as being very pleased by the capture data results, saying that they "have basically cracked the code" on underwater motion capture. A small test tank was being used with plans to move to a larger tank in January.[51] The underwater scene featured dialogue in "a kind of sign language". Kate Winslet, who plays a character from the same clan as the new generation cast, also underwent similar free-diving training as she insisted on doing all her own water work.[20]

PhotographyEdit

Principal photography commenced on September 25, 2017.[52] Avatar 2 and 3 will be shot back to back and go through post production sequentially, in a "two and two structure" that will also be done for Avatar 4 and 5.[53] The sequel may be shot at 48 fps, 60 fps or an even higher frame rate.[54] Two months after filming began, Disney announced its purchase of Fox, including the rights to Avatar 2.[55]

During a promotion for Avengers: Infinity War, Zoe Saldana stated that motion capture on Avatar 2 and 3 was "just about done", with pre-production starting ahead of the live action photography.[56] Photography was originally announced in May 2017 to take place at Stone Street Studios in 2018.[57] Stone Street Studios was previously used for the filming of the first Avatar movie and is in close proximity to Weta Workshop.[58]

In a June 2018 Sony press release, announcing the use of the Venice camera system in Avatar 2 & 3, photography was mentioned as "expected to begin first quarter of 2019."[59] In a February 2019 interview for Collider, Jon Landau confirmed that performance capture on Avatar 2 & Avatar 3 was complete, with some partial performance capture done for Avatar 4. He stated that live action filming would start in spring 2019 in New Zealand.[60] This was further emphasized by Landau in another February 2019 interview with the LA Times, with the performance capture done for Avatar 2, 3, and parts of 4 described as "principal capture".[61] During the Empire Podcast, it was mentioned that live action filming will start in April 2019 and that Edie Falco was cast specifically for the live action filming. Cameron said that the live action filming would last five months, covering both Avatar 2 and 3.[22]

On October 29, 2018, Sigourney Weaver reported that her filming for Avatar 2 and 3 was complete. [62] On November 14, 2018, James Cameron confirmed that the main cast of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Kate Winslet had finished principal photography on Avatar 2 and 3.[63] Addressing misconceptions that Avatar 2 and 3 were finished filming entirely, Cameron clarified during an interview for Empire released on February 2018 that filming was only finished for principal cast that were in performance capture only, which were "the vast majority of the characters and the vast majority of the running time for the film".[22]

On March 7, 2019, The first footage of Avatar 2 was shown to Disney shareholders during a meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. It's unknown what was shown specifically or how finished the footage was.[64] On March 28, Jon Landau posted congratulations to Garrett Warren and the water team on Avatar for completing the 2nd unit tank work.[65].

MarketingEdit

The Avatar Facebook page announced the start of production and a revised release date of December 2020, on April 22nd, 2017.[66] From that date onwards, the project has been regularly promoted on social media.

Pandora: The World of Avatar serves as both a promotional platform for the sequels and physical reference point for the Avatar cast and crew. As the sets for the movies are digital, cast visits to the theme park attraction help provide a sensory experience that wouldn't normally be obtained through motion capture shooting on a sterile set. The scenery for the park also provides a backdrop for photoshoots featuring the cast. The first photos of the "new generation" cast were taken at the park along with video, similar to original cast photo and video taken when the attraction first opened.[67][68][69][70]

ReleaseEdit

The film has been confirmed for an IMAX release as well as the regular format.[71]

CastEdit

Avatar 2 young cast

Left to right- Britain Dalton (Lo'ak), Filip Geljo (Aonung), Jamie Flatters (Neteyam), Bailey Bass (Tsireya), Trinity Bliss (Tuktirey), Jack Champion (Javier "Spider" Socorro), & Duane Evans Jr. (Rotxo)

In January 2011, James Cameron confirmed that most characters would return for Avatar 2, "Basically, if you survived the first film, you get to be in the second film, at least in some form."[91]

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana will appear in all four Avatar sequels.[92] Worthington and Saldana signed for a trilogy in 2009.[93] After the trilogy expanded to three sequels, contract re-negotiations took place.[94]

Stephen Lang will return as Miles Quaritch for another four films, though he was killed in the end of Avatar.[74] In 2010 Lang stated "It's not over while I've still got DNA"[95]; his reprisal was confirmed in October 2013.[96] In August 2017, Miles Quaritch was confirmed as the antagonist for all four sequels and that Matt Gerald would return as Mile Wainfleet in the sequels.[97][75] Much like Quaritch, Wainfleet's role in the sequel is despite him dying in the first film.

At the 2010 Golden Globes, Sigourney Weaver hinted at the return of her character, Dr. Grace Augustine, in some form, saying, "If you look at the footage, I don't really... I go somewhere, right? It's science fiction. Anything can happen." [98] The actress later confirmed that she and Cameron had agreed to bring Grace back, commenting, "I'm actually in the tree. I can't promise anything, but I think James Cameron wants to bring the family together", referring to Grace, Jake, Norm, and the other humans that stayed on Pandora or helped the Na'vi. [99] In 2011, Sigourney Weaver further commented on returning for an Avatar sequel, stating that James Cameron has already told Weaver the stories for the second and third installments of the Avatar film series. Weaver also commented on her return after a supposed death in the first film, stating that, "Jim [Cameron] says no one ever dies in science fiction."[100] During her 2015 appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show, Weaver said that she "won't play the same character".[101]

Giovanni Ribisi has also hinted at a possible return as Parker Selfridge. When asked if he had any information on the sequel that he could share, he said: "Yeah, who knows."[102] He later stated, when asked if he was allowed to say anything about the sequel: "I'm not allowed to say anything." After the interviewer stated that it was "Totally cool", Ribisi responded: "But we'll see."[103] When interviewed by George Lopez about returning for a sequel, Ribisi stated that there had been talk of him returning and it would be "a privilege" to come back in the sequel. [104] Another interview has quoted him as referencing his character's departure from Pandora rather than death, and that there have been many "allusions" to that.[105] Ribisi confirmed in October to return in his role as Parker Selfridge for all four sequels.[76]

Dileep Rao also told reporters he was unable to confirm whether or not he would return for an Avatar sequel, but hinted that the humans would return as the main antagonists.[106] In 2017, he was confirmed to return as Max Patel in the sequels.[107] On April 20, 2010 CCH Pounder confirmed that she would return as the Omaticaya Tsahìk Mo'at.[108] Joel David Moore and CCH Pounder were reconfirmed for the sequels in May and July 2017, respectively.[109][110]

Michelle Rodriguez, when asked about the sequel, said that Avatar was like working on Star Wars, and she hoped Trudy Chacon could be in Avatar's sequel.[111] At the premiere for Fast & Furious 6, Michelle Rodriguez denied her involvement in the film thus far, stating that, despite previous rumors, Cameron had yet to contact her about a role in it, but added that the word of Avatar was a "secret, secret, secret world" and implied that many of the cast members, herself included, probably wouldn't know if they were involved in the film or not until the film started pre-production.[112] In 2015, Rodriguez confirmed that she would not be appearing in Avatar 2, while mentioning that Weaver and Lang would return.[113]

In an August 2017 interview, Josh Brolin said that he rejected a role in Avatar 2, which he claims caused tension between him and Cameron.[114]

In May 2017, actor Cliff Curtis, known from the Fear the Walking Dead series, was confirmed for a lead role in all four sequels. Curtis will play Tonowari, the leader of the Metkayina clan, the reef people clan.[78] In June 2017, actress Oona Chaplin, known from her roles in Game of Thrones and Taboo, was confirmed for a lead role in all four sequels during the CineEurope trade convention in Barcelona, Spain. She will be playing Varang, described as a "strong and vibrant central character".[115]

On September 27, 2017, the "new generation" cast for all four sequels was announced, comprised of Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, Trinity Bliss, Bailey Bass, Filip Geljo, Duane Evans Jr., and Jack Champion.[116] Filip Geljo's casting was leaked five days prior to the official announcement by TMZ.[117]

On October 3, 2017, Kate Winslet was confirmed for the role of Ronal, twenty years after her leading role on James Cameron's Titanic.[83] She described Ronal as "a pivotal character in the ongoing story", though Winslet said she would only be involved in the Avatar 2 filming for one month.[118]

While not formally announced, actors CJ Jones, Keston John, and Chloe Coleman have been cast in the sequels. Keston John plays Va'ru in Avatar 2 and 3.[119][120]. On top of his acting role, CJ Jones, a deaf actor and advocate for more disability representation in Hollywood, developed sign language for the Na'vi.[89][90] Chloe Coleman portrays a younger version of Lo'ak in Avatar 2.[121][80]

The start of live action filming for Avatar 2 and 3 in early 2019 lead to semi-regular casting announcements for new human characters, including those for Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, and Jemaine Clement. Yeoh was specifically confirmed at the time for all four Avatar sequels.

In other mediaEdit

During the initial announcements for Pandora: The World of Avatar in 2011, James Cameron stated that the theme park would include elements from the second and third movies.[122] The park opened on May 27, 2017; approximately two and a half years before the release date of the second film.

TriviaEdit

  • This will be the first Avatar film not composed by James Horner, due to his death on June 22, 2015.
  • This will be the first Avatar film to be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, due to Disney's completed acquisition of 21st Century Fox (including 20th Century Fox).
  • Filmed with Sony Venice cameras on stereoscopic 3D rigs[123]

ReferencesEdit

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