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James Cameron created a sensation when he released Avatar in December of 2009. Holding the top spot at the charts for seven weeks in a row, the film wound up making nearly $750 million domestically when it was first released, and it continues to be the only film other than Titanic to make over $2 billion at the global box office. Fans have waited patiently ever since for Cameron to get around to making the sequel, and were excited back in August when the director promised Avatar 2 for December 2016. But when does that mean cameras will start rolling?
According to star Sam Worthington, the answer to that question is about one full year from now. Variety picked up on an interview that the actor did with an Australia radio station called NovaFM and revealed both when and how they will be shooting the sequels for Avatar. “We are going to start this time next year and we will do two, three and four,” he said. “In one shot, we’ll do them simultaneously. I’ll be grateful if it finishes.” He added, "I think Jim is building the ship to Pandora, to be honest."
This, of course, won't be the first time that a major blockbuster franchise has filmed a bunch of movies at the same time. Peter Jackson decided that this method was the best way for him to make his Lord of the Rings trilogy - a series that went on to become an unquestionable success - and he did it again when it came time to start filming The Hobbit. What makes this such a challenging way to shoot is that the production needs to have all of the scripts in place before production begins, which means that Cameron and his writers have to have three full scripts ready to go. This would also go a long way in explaining why it's taken so long for these sequels to get going.
Making three movies in one go could also suggest that all three will be playing out one big over-arching storyline while each of the individual movies have full narratives of their own. Hopefully this means that Cameron and screenwriters Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planets of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Savages) are putting more thought into the story than what we saw last time. They'll certainly have a ridiculous budget to work with thanks to the box office earnings of the first movie, so we'll just have to hope that they use it appropriately.