There’s no doubt that it takes guts to announce even one sequel to your film way before it’s been released. But to announce four sequels in one go, takes more than guts. It becomes a matter of faith then. But James Cameron has always been the master of delivering solid sequels. Once, someone had pointed out to him, that the alignment of stars in the night sky in the scene where Titanic sinks, would have been different than shown, depending upon the earth’s position that fateful night. So Cameron went back to the editing table and arranged the stars as per the alignment.

The first Avatar movie released in 2009 and surpassed Cameron’s own Titanic as the highest-grossing movie ever at that time. Cameron wanted to make a sequel even before the original had been released but the box-office shattering success gave him the signal to announce four sequels altogether. Almost all special-effects heavy franchises owe their present to Avatar that laid the foundations in 2009, especially in terms of the way the film set a new benchmark for 3D.

Has the craze for an epic Avatar follow-up vanished or could it be rekindled? Why the delay? – Cameron wasn’t gonna give us mediocre underwater CGI just because a new franchise movie was dropping every month. One of the main reasons behind the 13-year wait, was that Cameron wanted the technology to catch-up with his vision. He wanted to shoot the film at a higher-frame rate (48fps) which only became a norm after The Hobbit trilogy.

Take, The Abyss or Titanic, underwater settings are Cameron’s forte. Avatar’s USP was the motion-capture performances that created an exhilarating experience. Avatar: The Way of Water, explores the oceans and underwater creatures of Pandora. Cameron wanted to use such motion-capture technology underwater, but the technology wasn’t even ready at that time. Hence, the starting requirement itself is asked for time. He waited for the tech to catch-up. Well, the tech being late and Cameron being ahead, could be another way of looking at it.

Leading up straight to Avatar 5 (2028), Cameron wanted the scripts finalised for all 4 sequels before any production began. So instead of just completing one sequel’s script and then shooting it, he has waited to get all stocked up for all parts.

It’s clear no pressure to stay relevant has gotten to him. Today the demand is to churn out films at an overwhelming rate even if they lack basic storylines. Franchises have gone into production while writers are still coming up with how to move the story ahead and the hollow bones of such storytelling have been seen clearly in multiple recent releases. Hopefully, Cameron’s conscious choice to not do that and plan everything intensively with nerve-wracking detail will reflect in the sequels’ epic events.

Avatar 2 needs to make at least 1.4 billion dollars just to break-even. And Avatar 4 and 5 won’t ever happen if parts 2 and 3 don’t do well at the box-office. To have invested well over a decade into these 4 parts and not have the chance to make them if things don’t work out, will be a hard pill to swallow for everyone. But Cameron has floated against all odds. And if history is to be believed, he will breathe underwater too. And that will have changed the game for all franchises forever. Again.


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