Update 10/22/13: According to The Wrap, Stephen Lang has signed on for Avatar 2, 3 and 4 to once again play Colonel Quaritch. You might be wondering how that is possible considering what Neytiri did to him at the end of James Cameron's first film. Don't worry, we are too.
Jeff Sneider reports Lan will be playing the same role, but doesn't specifically say that all of the films are chronological sequels, so it's entirely possible that we'll be seeing Quaritch in his pre-Avatar days. Or maybe Pandora has a few healing secrets we didn't get to see in the first film. Either way, James Cameron isn't saying just yet, but he is teasing that he's got it all figured out:
“I’m not going to say exactly HOW we’re bringing him back, but it’s a science fiction story, after all. His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who’s also become a good friend.”
Previously 08/01/13: 'Avatar' Now Has 3 Sequels Planned with 3 More Writers and 3 New Release Dates
Just yesterday we learned that Avatar 2 was moving on a new track as screenwriter Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; War of the Worlds) was hired to pen the script with director James Cameron. Now Deadline has a lot more information to add to that news, and it seems that maybe we'll actually get to see more Pandora at some point. In fact, we'll reportedly be getting three more movies rather than just two sequels. The only bad part for Avatar fans is that they now have to wait until December 2016 -- one year after the last-known release date and seven years after the original film opened -- for the first of these installments to hit theaters.
And then Avatar 3 will arrive in December 2017 followed by Avatar 4 in December 2018. All three will be shooting "simultaneously," which may either mean back-to-back-to-back (as Sigourney Weaver previously claimed before producer Jon Landau reaffirmed there would only be two more) or with a schedule that mixes the filming of scenes from different installments over the course of one long production period. That shoot will start next year, once the scripts and other preproduction is all set.
Oh, and as for those scripts, Friedman isn't the only new hire brought into the fold this week. He's only working on Avatar 2, while Avatar 3 will be cowritten by the team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Jurassic Park IV) and Avatar 4 is in the (typing) hands of Shane Salerno (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem; Savages), who previously worked with Cameron on the yet-to-be-realized Fantastic Voyage remake. Salerno also directed the upcoming documentary Salinger.
Even though the films will be made together, the way the scripts are being penned so independently of each other makes it sound like Cameron is still interested in them each being stand-alone stories rather than a continuous narrative. It's possible that the fourth movie is even that prequel we'd heard about in the past. Here's what the filmmaker said about the latest developments:
"Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on-screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh — all writers I’ve long admired – to join me in completing the films' screenplays."
Twentieth Century Fox boss Jim Gianopulos says "the studio has no higher priority" than this franchise. That shouldn't be a surprise given that The Wolverine box office shows the X-Men brand isn't enough of a moneymaker and other franchises like Alien/Prometheus and Die Hard can't carry them (nor can Ice Age forever) and possible new series hopefuls like Turbo and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunters didn't pan out. They could use the sure thing(s).
They are still sure things, right? We're still excited about these sequels? I know I am.
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