Entertainment journalism is seriously a big game of telephone. The message gets garbled along the way, and all sorts of extraneous and often erroneous data gets clogged up in the feed. That's why a report that James Cameron is filming three Avatar sequels back-to-back fills me with skepticism. Here's the original text from which these reports spring:
When “Political Animals” finishes shooting, see if you can follow Weaver’s schedule: she goes right into a new Christopher Durang play for a short run at Lincoln Center. Then she films “Avatar” 2, 3, and 4 with James Cameron. That’s right: they’re making three sequels to the blue 3D phenom all at the same time. Weaver says she has no idea how long it will take, or how it’s going to work. “I just show up,” she said.
She just shows up, but she knows it's three movies? That excerpt is from Showbiz 411, a blog run by Roger Friedman, the dipshit who got fired for reviewing a torrented version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Precision and ethics are not Friedman's main concerns.
But it does seem likely that Cameron would go and do a mega-shoot for the next Avatar. It feels grandiose enough to appeal to him. That said, I don't believe he has three more movies of story in him - I'm not even convinced he has another story worked out. What might be interesting is if Cameron just goes and shoots and then comes back and figures out how many movies he thinks he has.
That would actually be the kind of experimentation I would find fascinating - not new CGI or 3D or something, but an exercise in discovery through filmmaking. I suspect he's way too much of a formal traditionalist to ever do that, but he's also one of the only guys who would have the freedom to go spend a year and 600 million dollars figuring out how to tell a story about this enormous ecosystem that intrigues him.
Can you imagine that? If our biggest, most successful filmmakers decided to play with the form of cinematic storytelling instead of the tools? What a goofball I am for wanting that.