Speaking to The Associated Press, director James Cameron announced that he will shoot Avatar 2, Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 in New Zealand, home of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster movie, which was also shot and made in New Zealand, won three Academy Awards and is the highest-grossing film in history, with an international box office take of nearly $2.8 billion.
Following this news, Cameron offered some new details about the three sequels, comparing them to The Godfather:
It was very Jake-centric. His story seen through his eyes. We spread it around quite a bit more as we go forward. It’s really the story of his family, the family that he creates on Pandora. His extended family. So think of it as a family saga like The Godfather.
The director says about the universe in which the films exists,
It’s going to be a lot of new imagery and a lot of new environments and creatures across Pandora. We’re blowing it out all over the place. At first I thought I was going to take it onto other worlds as well, in the same solar system, but it turned out not to be necessary. I mean the Pandora that we have imagined will be a fantasy land that is going to occupy people for decades to come, the way I see it.
He also cleared up a rumor on the planned underwater sequences of the sequels:
There’s a fair bit of underwater stuff. It’s been inaccurately said that the second film takes place underwater. That’s not true. There are underwater scenes and surface-water scenes having to do with indigenous ocean cultures that are distributed across the three films.
Production on the upcoming trilogy is expected to begin in October 2014 and will take place over a nine-month shoot.
Avatar 2 is slated to open in theaters December 2016 and stars Stephen Lang, followed by Avatar 3 which comes to theaters December 2017 and also stars Lang. Avatar 4 comes to theaters just in time for Christmas 2018 and stars Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.
The films are directed by Cameron who will end up being credited as the co-screenwriter on all three sequels, with his scripting collaborators including Josh Friedman on Avatar 2, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver on Avatar 3 and Shane Salerno on Avatar 4.