By now everyone knows that not only is "Avatar" a huge hit, but also director James Cameron never expected it to be anything less than a blockbuster. So it's not a huge surprise that the director confirms this week that he has always planned to do an "Avatar" sequel, and hopefully even turn the franchise into a trilogy (you hear that, George Lucas?).
"I've had a storyline in mind from the start - there are even scenes in 'Avatar' that I kept in because they lead to the sequel," Cameron tells Entertainment Weekly in this week's issue. "It just makes sense to think of it as a two or three film arc, in terms of the business plan. 'The CG [computer graphic] plants and trees and creatures and the musculo-skeletal rigging of the main characters - that all takes an enormous amount of time to create. It'd be a waste not to use it again."
In other words: Cameron is taking a kind of "green" approach to the blue-skinned characters: Recycle, reuse, and reduce what might otherwise be underused filmmaking.
Directors often hint about sequels that never come about, but the fact that "Avatar" star Sam Worthington has already signed on to reprise his role as Jake Sully suggests the plans look pretty solid. And Cameron has had good luck with sequels in the past: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" made more than seven times as much money as the original "Terminator"; and "Aliens," Cameron's sequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien" may not have outpaced the original at the box office, but it was by all other metrics a solid hit.
As for other cast members returning for an "Avatar" sequel, actor Stephen Lang, who played Colonel Miles Quaritch, the baddest guy in the movie, thinks he could make a return: "You think those two arrows in my chest are going to stop me from coming back?" Lang told EW, "Nothing's over so long as they've got my DNA."
Whatever Cameron imagines for the planet Pandora in the sequel, he'll probably stick with an environmentalist theme.
When asked this week at a private industry screening of the film in Los Angeles about the film having a "political agenda," Cameron said, "I don't know if there is a political agenda exactly, but as an artist I felt a need to say something about what I saw around me. I think we all need to take stewardship of our planet," adding: "I think everyone should be a tree hugger."
If the "Avatar" sequel does happen, it'll be a few years before audiences can lay their 3D-glasses-enhanced eyes on it. Cameron is currently in pre-production on his next movie, "Battle Angel" in which he'll use some of the same CG technology he created for "Avatar." That film is slated to hit theaters in 2011.