Director James Cameron said on Wednesday that writing three sequels to Avatar is such a time-consuming job that the first sequel will be delayed a year and will now be released in late 2017.
Cameron has said he plans to film all three highly anticipated sequels at once and release the films over consecutive years. The first sequel was due to be released in late 2016, although he said the writing process has been “very involved” and the original target date was too ambitious, according to ABC News.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– James Cameron” author_title=”Avatar director”]
There’s a layer of complexity in getting the story to work as a saga across three films that you don’t get when you’re making a stand-alone film. We’re writing three simultaneously. And we’ve done that so that everything tracks throughout the three films.
The news is confirmation of what has been rumored for months: that Cameron had not yet delivered a shooting script to 20th Century Fox, which has delayed budgeting and production work.
20th Century Fox chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos said last summer that the studio expects the films to be costly and the journey long, but worthwhile with new discoveries in what is possible in filmmaking and technology.
While in New Zealand, where he was helping to promote the local film industry, Cameron said he believes it’s important for each movie to be linked forward to the next in a way that’s satisfying to the audience but doesn’t leave them hanging.
In an interview with Empire magazine last year, Cameron said of the movies, “They’re going to be bitchin’. You will (expletive) yourself with your mouth open,” according to USA Today.
Cameron is leading a team of screenwriters on the Avatar project with a goal of completing the scripts for all three films by the end of January. All of the films will be shot in New Zealand, where some of the original was filmed, according to the BBC.
The original Avatar became the highest-grossing film in history, taking in almost $2.8 billion after its 2009 release. The film won three Oscars.