Back in September, writer-director James Cameron confirmed that live-action filming had finally, finally been completed on his Avatar sequels. The production had stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ensuing chaos meant that each individual movie's release date (there are four sequels in total) had to be pushed back.
However, things are now looking more positive for the franchise, which began back in 2009 with the first Avatar movie. That film overtook Cameron's own Titanic as the highest-grossing of all time, although it was later supplanted in 2019 by Avengers: Endgame. The four Avatar sequels have been filmed back to back, and promise an expansion of the Pandoran mythology.
As before, we can expect a mixture of flesh-and-blood drama and cutting-edge CGI motion capture for the alien Na'vi characters. (Hence why the production delays are so significant; with just the live-action content in the can, the post-production visual effects work now stretches out before Cameron and his crew.)
Sam Worthington's grunt-turned-Pandoran-native Jake, Zoe Saldana's fierce Neytiri and Sigourney Weaver's seemingly deceased scientist Grace will all be returning. We can also expect the return of Stephen Lang's vanquished bad guy Quaritch (as with Grace, file this under, "how exactly?") and Giovanni Ribisi's slimy company man Parker.
Producer Jon Landau, a regular collaborator of Cameron's, has been tweeting out images and news during the production. Now, the official Avatar Twitter channel has released its first look at a brand new character: Edie Falco as General Ardmore, described as 'the new head of RDA activity'. In layman's terms, she may become the new corporate antagonist to fill the shoes of both Quaritch and Parker (the latter of whom was banished from Pandora at the end of the first movie).
Here’s a behind the scenes still of Edie Falco as General Ardmore, the new head of RDA activity on Pandora. pic.twitter.com/USCULPvGfd— Avatar (@officialavatar) October 19, 2020
Falco is best known for her role as Carmela Soprano in the hugely celebrated HBO series The Sopranos. She starred opposite the late James Gandolfini in the show, receiving three Emmys and two Golden Globes in the process.
How Ardmore will fit into the general storyline remains to be seen. Cameron's ambition is to introduce us to previously unseen realms of Pandora, including the underwater realm that caused complications with the CGI motion-capture photography. Several child actors have been cast as infant Na'vi characters, and had to learn to free-dive (breath-holding without scuba gear) for these sequences.
Kate Winslet is among the new cast members, playing Ronal, as is Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Karina Morgue and Jemaine Clement as Dr. Ian Garvin. Winslet, who last collaborated with Cameron on Titanic, describes her character as "a pivotal character in the ongoing story", but also "relatively small comparative to the lengthy shoot". Like the child actors, Winslet also had to learn to free-dive for her role. Back in 2017, Cameron described Ronal as "a character who’s part of the Sea People, the reef people". It sounds like she may well facilitate the meeting between Jake, Neytiri and the aquatic inhabitants of Pandora, although this is just speculation at the moment.
Jot this down: Avatar 2 reaches us on 16th December 2022, followed by Avatar 3 on 20th December 2024, Avatar 4 on 18th December 2026 and Avatar 5 on 22nd December 2028. To reiterate, this is the plan at the time of writing, and the schedule may well change again. Continue to follow the blog for further updates and the initial Avatar 2 trailer.
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