Why Did Avatar 2 Take So Long to Make?

Iit’s been 13 long years Avatar—or any other movie directed by James Cameron – released on the big screen. Hollywood has since changed: In 2009, Blockbuster had not yet declared bankruptcy. Since then, Disney has acquired 20th Century Fox, the studio that financed the first movie. avatar film; expensive action movies without superheroes are rarely greenlit anymore unless Tom Cruise is the lead; and streaming paralyzed the movie theater business.

Yet avatar It remains the highest-grossing film in history. When? Avengers: Endgame Rising to this top for a short time in 2020, Cameron avatar To reclaim the title in China. It worked: The movie has now grossed $2.9 billion in total. The director had long planned to make several sequels, but every year, when Disney announced their list of upcoming movies, they were adding an appendix. avatar follow-up was delayed again. Fans are starting to doubt it Avatar 2 never came out, let it go Avatar 3, 4or 5.

Now, after years of filming in New Zealand, the sequel has finally arrived: Avatar: The Way of Water It will be released on December 16. Set nearly 15 years after the original, the film focuses on former human soldier Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Na’vi warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) who fall in love with the planet Pandora. first movie, Jake left the human body to become a Na’vi himself. The couple now have three children, one of whom is voiced by Sigourney Weaver, who plays a dying human character in the first movie.

As the title suggests, most Avatar 2 It is set in and around the ocean and introduces the Metkayina, a new oceanic tribe of the Na’vi. avatar The third movie, shot simultaneously, is scheduled to be released in 2024. The final two installments are scheduled for 2026 and 2028. That’s why it took so long to build. avatar The sequel and why we’re getting so many followers in the years to come.

James Cameron took the time to explore the real world

Cameron is an open sea lover. He made many underwater journeys to the wreckage of the Titanic; According to the story, Cameron and actor Bill Paxton were dining in a submarine on the deck of the Titanic on September 11, and only heard of the terror attacks after they were out of the water.

After that avatar In 2012, Cameron built a submarine that could transport itself to the deepest part of the sea, to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. He became the first person in history to descend 10.8 miles alone.

He also spent time after the first avatar advocating meat alternatives for both environmental and health reasons. He and his wife helped produce the 2018 documentary. Game Changers about athletes on vegan diets and even invested in a pea protein facility in Saskatchewan. (They have since sold their shares.)

“I tried to find a good term for it because vegan it has all these connotations,” he said in a recent GQ profile. “’How many vegans does it take to plug in a light bulb?’ ‘It does not matter. I’m better than you.’ You just want to punch a vegan. “Punch a vegan today: It’ll feel good.” So the term I found future lover We eat the way people will eat in the future. We just do it early.

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20th Century Studios

Three movies turned into four

Originally conceived as a trilogy avatar The franchise flew like a balloon in Cameron’s mind. The director began planning sequels in 2012 and set up a writers’ room to assist him in 2013. He recently told New York: “It finally resulted in more stories than I expected.” Times. He added that it took four years to write the next four films.

New films would introduce new Na’vi groups and new locations on Pandora. avatar took an incredibly detailed approach to introduce the flora and fauna of the fictional planet and how nature is interconnected by the traditions of its alien inhabitants, the Na’vi. Writers had to invent different biomes for new regions of Pandora, traditions for their people, and wardrobes for characters; it took another five years to create these visual elements.

Amid all this creative development, Cameron was deeply involved in the creation of Disney Parks vehicles, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Na’vi River Journey. The first is a VR ride like nothing else in Disney Parks, and Cameron brought his high-tech intelligence to the concept. He also took on the role of architect of Disney World’s Pandora-inspired district centered on a huge faux tree.

James Cameron had to invest in new underwater technology

More than ten years after its launch, avatar it still looks beautiful. This is partly due to the advanced motion-capture technology that Cameron uses to reproduce every fluid movement and facial tic of his actors playing the Na’vi characters. For the sequels, Cameron wanted to use the same motion capture technology while the actors were underwater; this was an unheard of feat that required years to design a solution.

Finally, Cameron and his team were able to create cameras for shooting underwater. The director worked with visual effects company Weta Digital (most Lord of the Rings movies) for post-production enhancements using artificial intelligence.

“My colleagues in production lobbied really heavily for us to do ‘dry for wet’ by hanging people on wires,” Cameron said. weekly fun a year before the movie was released. “I said, ‘It won’t work.’ It won’t look real.’ I even let them do a test, where we caught dry for wet, and then we caught it in water, which was a rough level of our catch in water. And it wasn’t even close.”

Filming took three years

Cameron decided to shoot. Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 also a smart move considering how long it took for the second movie to go into production. However, this meant delays in shooting. Filming began in 2017 and took three years.

Cameron also claimed many of his players. Most of the cast had to shoot the underwater scenes in a 900,000-gallon tank built for the movies. Water bubbles and scuba diving gear hampered the motion capture process, so players spent months learning to hold their breath for minutes. (Kate Winslet reportedly broke the record on set: She held her breath for more than seven minutes.) Post-production on the visual effects-heavy film also took a long time.

this avatar The sequels, perhaps unsurprisingly, were incredibly expensive. Cameron said GQ The film “should be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. This is your threshold. It’s your vacation. But to date, although he has repeatedly set records for making the most expensive films in history, Cameron’s films have always made their money back. avatar sequels seem to depend on whether they can do the same trick. Waterway.

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summer Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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