James Cameron Talks Avatar TV Series Possibility, Avatar Sequels, Neill Blomkamp’s Aliens, Abyss Blu-ray and More
Posted on Monday, July 25th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Director James Cameron appeared at San Diego Comic-Con International 2016 as part of a Hall H’s Aliens anniversary retrospective on Saturday afternoon, and afterwards he did some press where he talked about his upcoming four Avatar sequels, the possibility of an Avatar television series, his thoughts on filmmaker Neill Blomkamp‘s Aliens sequel, an update on the long awaited Abyss Blu-ray release and more.
Avatar Sequels Update
Explaining how the Avatar sequels grew to four films, Cameron told Variety that the Avatar story arc “was originally meant to be a trilogy but I overwrite, and my writers overwrote as well.”
But basically the first of the sequels cloned itself and became two films, so now it’s four films. And the studio’s very happy with it. They have an opportunity to make more money, but it’s also an opportunity to spend a lot more money, too, so there’s a clench factor.
I don’t know how 20th Century Fox can spend whatever its going to cost to bring these Avatar sequels to life, not knowing if even the first of the bunch is going to perform as well as the initial film. It’s a very substantial investment, although Cameron has noted in the past that by shooting all of the actors at the same time they are employing the “economies of scale,” which will make the per-film cost much cheaper than the original Avatar production.
Is an Avatar TV Series Possible? … Or a Radio Drama?!
Cameron reiterated the plan to orchestrate production in a way that the Avatar sequels can hit theaters only a year apart, but even he admits that he’s “unsure if that will ultimately be possible.” The trade paper also asked the legendary filmmaker if the Avatar story could expand into television shows, to which Cameron responded that it might be possible to do it in the way that George Lucas did with the Clone Wars but he wouldn’t compromise with scaled-down production value.
You can’t do scaled-down production value for ‘Avatar.’ One minute of an ‘Avatar’ close-up of Jake or Neytiri or any of the other characters is like a million-plus dollars, even if there’s nothing happening in the shot. So do the math. It just doesn’t work for television. … There are ways to expand it, but TV is not one.
Strangely Cameron says that “radio dramas could fill in and create detail,” citing all the people who drive in their cars to work everyday. So it’s possible that he could create an audio experience, think maybe like a podcast or audiobook series, that could allow fans to “learn more about the characters and their backstory and the things that are happening off-camera in the movies.”
Abyss Blu-ray Release Update
And many fans have been clamoring for The Abyss on Blu-ray, and Cameron says that is still in the works. They have done a “wet-gate 4K scan of the original negative” which means “it’s going to look insanely good.”
No word on when the release will come as they have still yet to the authoring pass, which Cameron says will be done “in the DI for Blu-ray and HDR at the same time.” With all the prep for the Avatar sequels its unlikely he has much time right now for this home video release, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Although Avatar 2 is supposed to take place in the oceans of Pandora, and The Abyss seems like the perfect Blu-ray to release around the 2018 release of the film (or whenever Avatar 2 actually hits theaters, I won’t believe it until it happens). I’m sure one of those movie money passes could be included inside the release to help promote the upcoming movie.
James Cameron on Neill Blomkamp’s Aliens Sequel Script
As for District 9/Chappie director Neill Blomkamp’s script for a hypothetical Aliens sequel, Cameron has read it and approves. The filmmaker tells io9:
I think it works gangbusters. He shared it with me, and I think it’s a very strong script and he could go make it tomorrow. I don’t know anything about the production, and I don’t know what Ridley [Scott]’s doing. But hopefully there’ll be room for both of them. Like parallel universes.
It should be noted that Cameron also really liked Terminator Genisys, which was almost universally rejected by fans. Cameron and Aliens co-producer Gale Anne Hurd thinks sequels have “gotten out of hand”, and offers this advice: “As opposed to formulaic filmmaking, go to an auteur and have the auteur write the script, and re-invent the story while staying true to canon.” Meanwhile, Cameron says that “there’s a tricky balance when you’re doing a sequel.”
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Between making it fresh, surprising the audience, but not surprising them with such a swerve that they feel that it’s not honoring the first film. You’ve got to play to expectations, you’ve got to play against expectations. And I always think that it’s about answering a question that you didn’t know to ask. But when they see it, it seems obvious.