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James Cameron on 'Avatar' sequels: Scripts should be done within six weeks

James Cameron delivered major Avatar news during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on Saturday, announcing that scripts for the next three films will be completed within six weeks.

“The second, third, and fourth films all go into production simultaneously,” he wrote. “They’re essentially all in pre-production now because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks.”

But Cameron, who penned the original Avatar screenplay, isn’t going it alone this time. Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Shane Salerno are collaborating with him on this massive undertaking.

“There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there,” Cameron added. “The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.”

Production on Avatar 2 is slated to begin this fall. Principals Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Stephen Lang are returning for the sequels with hopes that the next films can be as successful as the 2009 original. Avatar grossed nearly $2.8 billion worldwide and won Oscars for cinematography, visual effects, and art direction. Cameron hopes to continue pushing creative and technological boundaries with the franchise.

“I believe all movies should be made in 3-D, forever, but the projection needs to be better and brighter,” he wrote during his AMA. “I want people to see in the movie theaters what I am seeing in my perfectly calibrated screening room and people aren’t seeing that. Larger formats. I’d love to see screens get bigger.”

The Avatar sequels are scheduled for release December 2016 through 2018.

Casting Net: Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington back for 'Avatar' sequels; Plus, Michael Pena for 'Ant-Man', more

• Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington have finalized deals to reprise their roles as Neytiri and Jake Sully in the three upcoming Avatar sequels for director James Cameron. News of their “expected” return was first reported in August. Stephen Lang is also returning as Marine Colonel Quaritch. The three follow ups will be shot back to back and are rolling out to theaters in December of 2016, 2017, and 2018. [THR]

Is the 3-D fad over?

All the way back in 2009, eager studio executives eyed Avatar‘s $2.8 billion worldwide gross and gushed “I see you” to the film’s groundbreaking 3-D technology. A few months later, Alice in Wonderland became a $1 billion hit, and before Johnny Depp had even wiped the makeup off his face, the industry had decided 3-D would be its savior.

Fox, Paramount, Disney, and Universal collectively shelled out $700 million to help equip theaters with new projectors, and the number of 3-D releases jumped from 20 in 2009 to 45 in 2011. Perhaps most importantly, audiences proved willing to pay an extra $3.50 per ticket, so Hollywood made a point of “enhancing” every film into a “premium” 3-D experience. Oh, what a difference four years makes: 3-D box office receipts are taking a serious tumble these days, and audiences are increasingly opting for cheaper 2-D tickets. So how did the format fall so far so fast? READ FULL STORY

'Avatar' ups its sequel count from two to three

Avatar fans, you’re in luck: You’re going to be seeing even more of the Na’vi than you originally anticipated. Producers announced today that in addition to two already-planned sequels to the 2009 juggernaut, there will be a fourth film in the franchise.

James Cameron has hired screenwriters Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Savages, Salinger) to collaborate with him on the screenplays for the next three films, which will be shot simultaneously starting next year. The release of the first sequel will be in December 2016, with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later.

“Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience,” Cameron said in a statement. “In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh — all writers I’ve long admired -­ to join me in completing the films screenplays.”

'Avatar 2' will utilize underwater performance capture, says producer

It’s been common knowledge for a while now that the upcoming Avatar sequels would be set at least partially underwater, thus affording director/adventurer James Cameron to combine his love of blockbuster action-romance with his love of the ocean. Given that the first Avatar was largely created on a green screen performance-capture stage, you would’ve figured that the underwater scenes in Avatars 2 & 3 would be shot dry-for-wet — the same way Cameron filmed Aquaman.

But Cameron’s longtime producer Jon Landau revealed at the NAB Technology Summit on Cinema that the sequels will use an intriguing new technology. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the producer explained, “We have kept a team of digital artists on from Avatar in order to test how we can create performance capture underwater… we could simulate water, but we can’t simulate the actor’s experience, so we are going to capture performance in a tank.” READ FULL STORY

James Cameron provides update on 'Avatar' sequels, says Peter Jackson 'had it easy'

The eternal wait for a return journey to Pandora continues. But Avatar fans, just know that James Cameron is hard at work on the script that will follow up his 2009 sci-fi mega-blockbuster.

Cameron, the writer-director-producer of reigning box office champion Avatar, recently talked with the website Play Goes Strong, revealing that he’s currently in New Zealand working on writing Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. “I’m writing on a little farm. When you live in a special world like Pandora, you have to live in that world,” he said. READ FULL STORY

James Cameron to direct 'The Informationist' after 'Avatar' sequels

James Cameron may have told the New York Times back in May that he’s in the “Avatar business. Period,” but 20th Century Fox has announced he’ll direct an adaptation of the novel The Informationist for the studio after he completes the second and third Avatar films, now in pre-production.

Cameron will co-produce The Informationist with Jon Landau, his partner at Lightstorm Entertainment, which has acquired the rights to the book by Taylor Stevens published in October 2011, according to a Fox press release Tuesday. The pair expect to hire a writer soon to adapt the book.


'Titanic' on Blu-ray: James Cameron on how he dodged disaster -- VIDEO

with a note on it saying, ‘Use in case the film sucks,’” admits Cameron. “When everybody — everybody — doubts you, it’s hard not to doubt yourself. But I was looking at the footage, saying, ‘Guys, I’m seeing a good movie here.’”

It wasn’t just a good movie. Titanic was the type of artistic and popular success that occurs maybe once every generation. It won 11 Academy Awards and became the highest-grossing film of all time. It made Kate Winslet a star and Leonardo DiCaprio an icon. If Cameron himself didn’t become King of the World, as he boldly proclaimed at the Oscars, he certainly was anointed King of Hollywood, a title that was only reinforced when he defied the odds again years later with box office topper Avatar.

Fifteen years after Cameron’s Titanic sailed, the epic is available today on Blu-ray for the first time. The director checked in from anniversary celebrations in Ireland to recall the near disaster behind his disaster film. READ FULL STORY

James Cameron makes deal to bring his 3-D wizardry to China

Avatar director James Cameron’s company is launching a joint venture in China to market its 3-D technical wizardry to the country’s fast-developing film and television industries. Cameron Pace Group’s announcement Wednesday comes as the fast growth of China’s film market is attracting Hollywood studios that are rushing to link up with local partners.

The venture with two Chinese partners will supply 3-D filming technology and production services, said Cameron and his business partner, Vince Pace. They said they are discussing possible collaboration with state broadcaster China Central Television on developing 3-D TV. “This is an enormous untapped market that is right on the verge of the transition from 2-D to 3-D,” said Cameron in an interview. “This is the best place for us to create a kind of second home.” READ FULL STORY

'Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D' trailer: James Cameron's next movie, kinda

Cirque du Soleil is making a double-reverse backwards leap onto the big screen. Yes, the surreal acrobatic troupe that your aunt still can’t stop talking about — even though the trip to Las Vegas was almost five years ago now — is hitting theaters this December with Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D, a movie which was executive produced by James Cameron and directed by Andrew Adamson (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). A new trailer for the film promises all kinds of cuckoo bananas back flips, and also a vague bit of mysticism which you can probably only understand if you speak French Canadian. Watch the trailer below: READ FULL STORY

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