With James Cameron’s Avatar having been released back in 2009 and the first sequel not scheduled to hit theaters until the end of 2020, it sounds kind of risky financially to have that sort of gap between films. Add on top of that that there were actually two sequels being filmed back to back for a reported combined budget of $550 million, with another two in development, and there are more than a few people asking if this venture is a crazy one. Actress Sigourney Weaver is decidedly not one of those people.
Maybe that has something to do with the fact that she’s worked with Cameron before on Aliens (1986) and, of course, the first Avatar. Then there’s that bit of history from the past where people wanted to have the director locked up when he seemed to have gone overboard (yeah, we went there) with the making of Titanic, which, of course, went on to become the highest grossing movie in history. Until the aforementioned Avatar knocked it to number two. In other words, Cameron’s earned the right to be as expansive a filmmaker as he’d like.
Part of the power of the original Avatar is that it became an immersive experience in that it made the viewers feel like they had been transported to another world in the form of Pandora. They were also taken along emotionally with the story of humans threatening genocide against an alien race. The sequels, details of which are not being released, will involve a water planet.
Sigourney, who will not be reprising her role from the first film of Dr. Grace Augustine, explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the films should change the moviegoing experience, because “I think that the water becomes another world. The scripts are amazing, and in the first one, which I love, I think he hadn’t set up a lot of things. In this one he got to tell this very personal story. They’re amazing. There’s a message to not sacrifice everything for greed and conquest. It will take all four movies to really make that message loud and clear for the whole world.”
As to her role, she notes, “It’s a continuous character [in all the sequels]. We just finished shooting 2 and 3. We shot it in LA and James has announced publicly that there’s a lot of underwater work, so we learned how to free dive and we did many scenes underwater, which was challenging and kind of cool. I’m so lucky, because I always grew up near the water and I’m married to someone from Hawaii and I had learned to swim. Also, you have the best safety divers in the world. The one scary thing is sometimes you have to be weighted down to be on the bottom. Luckily, I would have a safety diver on each arm to get me back to the surface. I was grateful for that, because otherwise I would still be there.”
Of the film’s overall arc, she closes, “It’s kind of one story, but they’re all [also] independent. It works without 4 and 5, but it really is a big saga.”
Avatar 2 will be released on Dec. 18, 2020.