While it's difficult to imagine James Cameron spending the next chunk of his career either producing a new Terminator trilogy, or making Avatar sequels until we're blue in the face (get it? No seriously, the joke is...), it seems like that's just what he's going to be doing.
According to a new (rather stellar and hilarious) interview over at Vanity Fair, Cameron (ever the consummate student of box office returns) still recognizes that the amount of Avatar sequels he makes is dependent on how much money YOU spend at the ticket counter. Speaking with his usual frankness, he said:
“The scripts took four years. You can call that a delay, but it’s not really a delay because from the time we pushed the button to really go make the movies [until now], we’re clicking along perfectly. We’re doing very well because of all the time that we had to develop the system and the pipeline and all that. 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. In a funny way it was to the benefit of the film because the design team had more time to work...
He continued, saying:
"Most of the actors, the key principals, have all read all four scripts, so they know exactly what their character arcs are, they know where they’re going, they know how to modulate their arc now across the first two films. We all know where we’re supposed to be dramatically in the saga, and that’s great. Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, ‘Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.’ Even though that all worked and everybody did.”
That's one of the great things about Cameron - if you read between the lines, he knows that people are betting on these pictures to fail, as the common criticism against them is who the hell asked for these? It's a fair question: though the original Avatar grossed $2.7 billion worldwide, there isn't a huge fanbase clamoring for more like there is for the Marvel or DC Universes. But he's addressing these concerns in his usual brazen fashion, basically throwing down a gauntlet with "if the people don't like 'em, we won't make 'em."
Guess we'll just have to wait and see when Avatar II is released December 18, 2020.