Avatar Sequels Will Make Up An 'Epic Saga,' Producer Teases

After reclaiming its title as the highest-grossing movie in box office history following its re-release in China, the long-awaited sequel to James Cameron's "Avatar" is just a year away. The success of the 2009 release gave the immediate green light to four more movies and created a planned epic science-fiction pentalogy. It's taken over a decade for the second installment to arrive, but writer/director James Cameron and the rest of the creative team have been working hard not just on the sequel, but the entire series of sequels leading to "Avatar 5."

In an interview with Total Film Magazine, "Avatar" producer Jon Landau explained the delay was due to getting all four of the sequel scripts in place before filming could begin. "The scripts are the blueprint from which we work," said Landau. "So a large portion of our time was writing ... with the challenge that each of those four scripts had to individually resolve itself in a story that concludes with a big emotional resolution — but when you look at them as a whole, the connected story arc of all four movies creates an even larger epic saga." 

The second "Avatar" film picks up with the avatar Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his Na'vi wife, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who are forced to take their children, leave their home, and explore the regions of Pandora when an ancient threat resurfaces and pushes Jake into a war against humans.

A Central Vision for an Epic Saga

"I think the story of Avatar 2, and the strength of the story, is what Jim [Cameron] always does in any of his movies: he writes in universal themes that are bigger than any one genre," Landau continued. "And if you think about this, there's really no more universal theme than family. At the center of each of our sequels is the Sully family. What are the dynamics that parents go through to protect their family?"

James Cameron is no stranger to franchises, having created "The Terminator" and directed "Aliens." However, it's almost unheard of that a planned vision is given the opportunity to thrive from the perspective of the same creator. Typically when looking at film franchises, storylines get muddled, stylistic choices vary from film to film, and the series as a whole loses cohesion. Usually, film series aren't planned, and they're only developed after the success of the debut. There's no guarantee that all (or any) of the "Avatar" sequels will reach the same heights as the original movie, but four sequels are coming, regardless. Upon completion of the series, the "Avatar" films will be responsible for nearly 40% of James Cameron's directorial feature filmography (as of his currently announced projects).

The additional "Avatar" films are exciting not only because they are expected to be beautiful visual displays of cinematic excellence, but also because the development of the series is genuinely breaking new ground in the film industry.