Update, Saturday 10:25 AM: In a Reddit AMA this morning, Avatar director James Cameron expounded on the franchise’s timetable in regards to the screenplays, writing, “The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They’re essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks. There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.”
In a Fortune interview earlier this week, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch reiterated what Deadline reported back in August: That there will be three Avatar sequels released respectively in December 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Cameron also spoke about his hopes for exhibition in the future, and clarified the expectations of 48 fps cinema, as used by The Hobbit: “48 fps to me is not a format, it’s a tool, like music it’s good to use sparingly and in the right spot. I believe all movies should be made in 3D, forever, but the projection needs to be better, and brighter. I want people to see in the movie theaters what I am seeing in my perfectly calibrated screening room, and people aren’t seeing that. Larger formats. I’d love to see screens get bigger. In terms of storytelling, I’d like to see Hollywood embrace the caliber of writing in feature films that we’re currently seeing in the series on television – more emphasis on character, and less on explosions and pyrotechnics. And I’m talking the big tentpole movies, I think they’re obnoxiously loud and fast.”
Previous, Thursday, April 10, 6:36 AM: The Fox CEO in a comprehensive Fortune interview — his first since 2009 — said that Fox plans to “step up our production of major films” and has “one or two or maybe more sequels to Avatar.” As of now, there are three sequels planned to be filmed back to back in New Zealand, with Avatar 2 set to release in December 2016. The subsequent sequels will follow in December 2017 and 2018, respectively. “If we make it, it will be the first time [director] Jim Cameron’s been on time or on budget. But he’s never lost me. When he finally comes through, they’re just huge hits.” He adds that he’d like to hire DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider. “I’m a great admirer of her’s. And I’ve had long talks with her….It’s really for [Fox Studio chief] Jim Gianopulos to hire her.”