Despite the exceedingly long wait – Avatar arrived to smash box-office records back in 2009 – the sequel is nearly upon us. So what took so long? In large part, producer Jon Landau says, it was down to writing not one but four scripts for the planned series of sequels up to Avatar 5.
"The scripts are the blueprint from which we work," Landau tells Total Film magazine (opens in new tab) as part of our huge 2022 preview. "So a large portion of our time was writing... with the challenge that each of those four scripts had to individually resolve itself in a story that concludes with a big emotional resolution – but when you look at them as a whole, the connected story arc of all four movies creates an even larger epic saga."
Avatar 2 – which sees James Cameron (exclusively pictured below on-set with Sam Worthington) return as director – specifically picks up with the Sully family, and as much time has elapsed in the story world as in reality. Jake (Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) are now parents.
"I think the story of Avatar 2, and the strength of the story, is what Jim [Cameron] always does in any of his movies: he writes in universal themes that are bigger than any one genre," explains Landau. "And if you think about this, there’s really no more universal theme than family. At the center of each of our sequels is the Sully family. What are the dynamics that parents go through to protect their family?"
The Sullys’ idyllic life is disrupted when the RDA mining operation returns to Pandora, forcing Jake to take the family to "what is perceived as a safe harbor" at the reef. "And when you get to the reef, there’s a clan we call the Metkayina," continues Landau. "The Sullys are no longer in the environment that they know, the rainforest. They become the fish out of water. They become the fish out of water from a cultural standpoint and from an environmental standpoint."
Avatar 2 is set to arrive in cinemas 16 December 2022. For more from Landau on the upcoming film, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab) when it hits stands on Thursday 9 December. The issue features Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam on the cover and rounds up the biggest films coming your way next year.
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