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September 26, 2017

James Cameron Begins Filming Four Avatar Sequels Simultaneously/Back-to-Back, at a Cost of At Least One Billion

I think this is nuts.

First of all, I don't think Avatar has any resonance as an IP/franchise. People made a big deal of it, what, seven years ago? Something like that? I don't even remember.

But people also flocked to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. That was a pretty big hit. Then the public showed no interest at all in any sequels.

This isn't like Lord of the Rings or even the terrible Hobbit trilogy. Those were both telling one big story. Anyone coming out for the first pic would naturally see the others (assuming the first wasn't terrible -- a poor assumption in the case of The Hobbit).

But Avatar told its story already. The new films will be a new story -- or four linked stories in one big linked Marvel-style metastory.

Rather than producing each Avatar sequel in succession, James Cameron explained to Famous Monsters of Filmland that he would have four simultaneous productions running. On one day he may work on a scene for a particular Avatar film, but the very next day he could potentially work on another entry in the series. He goes on to explain that this particular method of shooting works for the Avatar series because the next four sequels tell a connected story that operates more within the framework of a miniseries than a film series.

Whether or not people have a major appetite for this subsequent "miniseries" (or maxi-series) isn't about whether they liked Avatar -- they saw that story, and that story is over.

It really depends on whether they care about the story set up by Avatar 2-- an entirely untested proposition.

I don't know if there is enough depth to the "Avatar Universe" to sustain four films. Are they all going to involve whatever that dumb planet was called? And the "Naavi" or whatever?

That seemed a very limited story-space -- it was just a hamfisted ecological/Native American allegory. And they exploited that allegory as much as it could be exploited. What else can be mined out of this thin metaphor?

Now maybe if this is just further adventures in the future depicted in Avatar, well, that could be more interesting. I like James Cameron's Heavy Metal-magazine informed tech designs. I could stand to see some more intimidating powered armor mechs with giant swords.

But I kind of doubt this series is going to move that far away from the stupid Naavi planet for very long -- I think he thinks those goofy one-dimensional aliens are the franchise.

The other reason I think this series of films is going to lose money -- and maybe set off a Heaven's Gate-style collapse of the studio -- is that all the young people so affected by the original movie don't seem to talk about it any more. I don't see Naavi memes. I don't hear Prog Millennials saying "Trump is just like that guy who wanted the MacGuffin Metal on that planet with the things."

They still yap endlessly about Harry Potter -- but they seem to have forgotten their brief fascination with the Planet of the Tall Blue American Indian Panther People.

I sense the public is getting sick of Star Wars. And Marvel too, actually. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing, especially when quality slips and each new entry seems less good than the last.

I think people are feeling pretty burned on this one-new-corporate-IP-exploitation-play every year schedule.

The Star Wars and Indiana Jones sequels came out three years after each other. Each new installment felt like something you'd been waiting for because, see if you can follow this, you actually did have to wait for them. They weren't flooded into the theaters at a one-new-IP-exploitation-per-year schedule.

When Rogue One came out, the marketing was basically "Revisit the Universe you haven't visited since 11 months ago, or five months ago, if you waited for PPV." I'm not really sure anyone was that eager to go back so soon.

These movies are feeling less like a Special Long-Awaited Event and more like a routine yearly obligation, like doing your taxes.

The only people who pretend to care about these things are the dozen "Nerd Crew" YouTube channels.

But who knows. I imagine that Cameron will add in some kind of new alien threat. Maybe another starfaring species wants the MacGuffin Metal. Maybe there'll be a big action-packed Space Marine fight for the Naavi planet, with humans and aliens trying to win the natives over to their side. Maybe Cameron will make this look a little interesting with cool new weapon, armor, and hover-tank designs.

But four of these? Four? Four, without even knowing if anyone really cares about Avatar 2, let alone Avatar 5?

I dunno. Okay, so one you set in the oceans and explore the planet's marine life (hey, maybe there are Sea Naavi, or Navy Naavi), one you set in the poles and introduce White Furred Arctic Naavi (Ice Naavi), and... I dunno. I guess the planet has a desert too, so maybe there are Sand Naavi.

Maybe there are really tall mountains and there's a sub-species of winged Naavi, or some kind of intelligent giant-bird roc-type alien. Maybe you can have some rocs acting like aerial troop transports dropping Naavi on to hover-tanks. (Or did they already do that in the first one? I dunno, I've completely forgotten, because it was pretty forgettable.)

I just think Cameron is way overestimating the lingering public interest in this very limited sci-fi IP.

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posted by Ace at 03:27 PM

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