Despite recent reports that James Cameron was gearing up for a Cleopatra biopic based on Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life with Angelina Jolie in the role of the Queen of the Nile, it has just broke that he has agreed to shoot Avatar 2 and 3 beginning in late 2011 for Twentieth Century Fox, immediately after he wraps up the screenplays, which he intends to write in early 2011 with an eye towards beginning production later that year.
In our first trip to Pandora, we saw ex-marine and paraplegic Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) integrate himself into the primitive culture of the planet’s blue, tree-dwelling Na’vi and defend their tribal grounds from a mercenary-assisted corporation. The sequels, undoubtedly to be shot natively with the 3D tech developed by Cameron and WETA Digital, are targeted for December 2014 and December 2015 release dates, respectively. Whether the productions will be back-to-back is pending.
Hit the jump for what Cameron and producer Jon Landau had to say on the sequels and a possible explanation as to why Cameron dumped Cleopatra.
Producer Jon Landau reiterated this about the pool of ideas Cameron can pull from:
“It is very exciting to be teaming again with our partners at Fox to give audiences the opportunity to return to Pandora. With the first movie, Jim only scratched the surface of the stories he wants to tell and the creatures and world he wants to create. Now we will continue his vision.”
Here are Cameron’s thoughts on his two-film commitment:
“It is a rare and remarkable opportunity when a filmmaker gets to build a fantasy world, and watch it grow, with the resources and partnership of a global media company. AVATAR was conceived as an epic work of fantasy – a world that audiences could visit, across all media platforms, and this moment marks the launch of the next phase of that world. With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at Twentieth Century Fox. Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience’s expectations for the richness of AVATAR’s visual world and the power of the storytelling. 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.”
Just last week, Cameron, always the politician, had this to say about an Avatar sequel:
“I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable because we still haven’t worked out our deal with 20th Century Fox. So we’re still in an ongoing negotiation on that. Because it’s a big piece of business, and I’m trying to map it out as a game plan that stretches forward 10 years. And they don’t like to think that long term. We’ll get it worked out, probably.”
What was Fox’s deal breaker? According to Deadline, it was a hefty, generous donation to Cameron’s environmental protection fund. That said, news of these prioritized sequels should hardly come as a bombshell, what with Avatar’s $2.9 billion worldwide box office–the highest gross of all-time–and its nine Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director.