It is in a year that spectators will finally be able to find Pandora, 13 years after Avatar. A sequel described as “crazy” by director James Cameron who shared photos from the set with Entertainment Weekly.
Released in 2009, Avatar quickly became the biggest hit of all time in cinema. Enough to make the man behind this universe want to follow up: James Cameron, who spoke about this in the pages of EW.
“Sounds a bit crazy, the process. I mean, if Avatar hadn’t made so much money, we never would’ve done that – because it’s pretty crazy“, he admits. Because to shoot Avatar 2, James Cameron had to innovate more than ever before.
The film, which is set 14 years after the original story and focuses in particular on the children of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), takes place largely in the ocean. In a place that producer Jon Landau describes as “Bora Bora on steroids “.
It is well known, the ocean is a passion of James Cameron, who is not in his first film in this environment, but the filming of Avatar 2 and 3 presented new challenges, in particular because of the necessary technology. for the performance-capture of actors playing the Na’vi which was not designed to operate underwater.
A huge challenge
James Cameron explains that his colleagues wanted to shoot the feature film on earth with “people tied to cables“to simulate the feeling of being underwater. To which the filmmaker replied:”It’s not going to work. It won’t look real.“After testing both techniques, the team decided to run underwater, in a 3.4 million liter tank built especially for the occasion.
The challenge was then to teach the actors to stay in apnea as long as possible. “The diving bubbles created too much noise in our performance-capture system. So whatever the duration of the scene, if it took two, three, four [minutes] filming, everyone was holding their breath“, says the director.
This is how Kate Winslet, a newcomer to the universe who will play Ronal from the Metkayina tribe, broke the record for freediving time on a film shoot previously held by Tom Cruise. At 72, Sigourney Weaver, who returns in a secret role, could hold her breath for six and a half minutes.
High stakes for a shoot that Jon Landau describes as “much bigger“whether it is”point of view of history or the world“than the first film. But the challenge has been met and shooting is now complete for Avatar 2, due in theaters on December 14, 2022, and Avatar 3, due on December 18, 2024.
Will success be there again?
James Cameron and his teams, however, have not left Pandora since they are currently filming episodes 4 and 5 scheduled for 2026 and 2028! But the director remains lucid and knows that Avatar’s success may not be repeated.
“The big question is: are we going to make any money? Big, expensive films must make a lot of money. We are in a new post-COVID, post-streaming world. Maybe these numbers [du box-office] will never be seen again. Who knows ? It’s all a great poker move“, he concludes.
Discover the new generation of actors of the suites: