20th Century Studios

At one time, James Cameron was only planning three sequels to his sci-fi epic “Avatar” until, during the writing process, it was changed to four.

In a new feature with “Avatar: The Way Of Water” scribes Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the pair reveal the reasoning – it was because their script for the first of the sequels became so big and unwieldy that it was split in two.

That resulted in the creation of another film which became the third one that has already been shot and is due out in late 2024. Speaking with Variety, Silver says the main reason for splitting was that their script was overstuffed – featuring too many significant events, and a slow first act:

“From the beginning, one of the challenges — I’ll say it was a delicious challenge — is that there was too much material. Carrying this burden was always an issue in terms of getting the first act of that first movie moving, and there was just an enormous amount of material in there.

So somewhere after we had started writing, [Cameron] called us up, and he said, ‘Look, we’ve got too much material. We’re going to split it into two movies.’”

Jaffa adds that cutting into the script wasn’t an option for Cameron, the filmmaker telling the writers: “No, let’s just follow the trail that we created and keep writing.” The result is the third film will complete the original story the pair laid out with Cameron for the second film.

However “Avatar: The Way Of Water” goes, with the film currently at $650 million at the global box office so far and climbing, the third one is coming. It’s a question of whether the fourth or fifth films, penned by other scribes, will make it.

Cameron has already shot the third film and part of the fourth, and he tells THR this week the reason for that is to avoid what he dubs the “Stranger Things” effect which he describes as having characters that are “supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they’re 27”.

He adds he loves that show and “It’s OK, we’ll suspend disbelief. We like the characters, but… you know.” This is especially true of actor Jack Champion who plays the human character ‘Spider’ and was 13 when they began filming (he’s now 18).

Cameron also recently commented on the infamous SNL sketch about the first film’s use of the Papyrus font for its logo, telling BBC Radio 1:

“It has haunted me… Not really. I couldn’t give a s—. [The sketch] is pretty funny. I’m just astonished they spent that much money on a little cinematic vignette around such a wispy, thin concept.

I said [to the ‘Avatar’ crew], ‘We’re doubling down. We are now using Papyrus for everything!’. The funniest thing about that whole story is that I didn’t even know it was Papyrus. Nobody asked me. I just thought the art department came up with this cool font.”

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is set to dominate the Christmas box office with a second-weekend domestic haul tipped to be in the $67-80 million range – a drop of just 40-50%, which is very good for a film of this size.

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