So, Twentieth Century Fox loves James Cameron. And why not? He’s the most financially-successful director of all time, and his Avatar made the studio the home of the highest-grossing film ever (without adjusting for inflation, of course, because Gone With The Wind would still hold that honor). We all ready know that they’re investing in three sequels to the film, and that the ambitious projects are going to be the cornerstone of studio for quite some time. But just how ambitious are the studio’s plans? Strap in, cause you may be surprised.
In an interview with the New York Times, Cameron’s business partner Jon Landau, dropped some tidbits on how much Avatar-related stuff we should be expecting. For one thing, a deal has been made to bring an Avatar-themed area to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, starting in 2017. Landau claims people will “walk under floating mountains higher than three Staples Centers stacked on top of each other” at the attraction.
But that’s not all. Cameron announced at a conference in Montreal that he was partnering up with Cirque Du Soleil to produce an Avatar show- similar to the grand spectacles they’ve created in Las Vegas.
Fox is preparing to spend nearly a billion dollars on the three sequels, hoping that Avatar will be for them what franchises like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Twilight, and the Marvel films have been for their respective studios. And, unlike many of the other big franchises out there, the studio is emboldened by the fact that Avatar is an original property. They aren’t beholden to any kind of “canon.” No books to adapt, no built-in audience to cater to, no outside creative forces to answer to. This is Cameron’s creation, and therefore there’s a flexibility there to really expand, and explore, any number of possibilities.
And what of the narrative of the three films? What will the stories center on? Implying that the stories will span several years, if not decades, of this new mythology, Landau says that we will follow Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) because the films are “the story of their life together.” He also says that the claims that one of the films will be set almost entirely underwater are a bit of a stretch. “It’s hard to have a dialogue scene under water,” he jests.
But getting back to the scope of outside-the-box revenue streams for the series, Landau says “This is not about any one medium.” He adds, though, that Cameron always puts great thought into his plans. So all of this hype, and time spent, is not being done recklessly. “He tries to do things as safely as possible,” Landau says- which has kept Fox somewhat on pins and needles, as they’ve watched other studios crank out franchise films at a rapid fire pace in the years it’s taken for Cameron to get his Avatar sequels going.
One thing’s for sure, with all of these plans, Avatar 2 needs to be a hit. A big one. They’re counting on it, since all three films will be shot at once- with release dates every December for three years starting in 2016. Jim Gianopulos, 20th Century Foxâ€™s chief executive, for one, seems quite confident about what Cameron’s cooking up between his deep-sea explorations. Gianopulos says, “After all these years together, you just say, â€˜O.K., Jimâ€™s ready to make a movie. Letâ€™s strap in and go for the ride.” The Fox honcho predicts that the studio is “going to have merry Christmases for the next few years.”