Avatardoesn’t open until December 18, 2020, so what’s been happening behind the scenes? Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau was on hand at a CinemaCon panel session today titled “An Industry Think Tank 3.0: Meeting the Expectations of Today’s Savvy Moviegoer,” and said that James Cameron is in the middle of the performance motion capture shooting right now, “in a huge water tank.”

“We want to see that the world and characters deliver on what the promise of the first movie set up,” Landau said.

Kate Winslet came to do a scene in a water tank,”and held her breath for more than three minutes — we trained our whole cast to do that,” the producer said. “She made this look so easy, she nailed the Na’vi language.”

The four planned Avatar sequels deal with diverse clans of Na’vis and environs that will emphasize diversity.

Two years ago, Cameron made a surprise appearance during 20th Century Fox’s CinemaCon presentation and announced he was expanding the number of Avatar sequels. Production began in September 2017 and the first sequel is expected to take place in Avatar‘s underwater world. 

20th Century Fox

In regard to Alita, director and co-screenwriter Robert Rodriguez is in “the final stages of post-production to bring this character to life,” said Landau. The film starring Rosa Salazar is aiming for a December 21 release.

“[Rodriguez] wanted to make a Jim Cameron film,” said Landau about the Lightstorm-produced feature. “Robert is fascinated by film, he understands and craves filmmaking. He studied Jim. He said, ‘I did a Frank Miller film with Sin City, now I’m doing a Jim Cameron-style movie.”

When the panel’s conversation steered toward why there aren’t many female-driven and diverse movies, Landau was quick to respond.

“When we’re casting the Na’vis, we can truly be colorblind whether it’s with a Zoe Saldana or a CCH Pounder and provide opportunities,” he said.

“We’re making movies for the world. Jim’s characters are strong female protagonists who can become inspirational to people. That’s what attracted us to Alita. It’s right up Jim’s alley and why he wanted to direct it at one point. We play to a global, diverse audience.”

No word whether Cameron will break from production again and provide another surprise update on Avatar during Fox’s CinemaCon session tomorrow.