Congratulations Twentieth Century Fox. You've just locked up James Cameron for the next five years.
The studio announced today that the 56-year-old director will be making the second and third films in the "Avatar" saga his priority, with a release dates for the two pegged for 2014 and 2015. While fans of the film will certainly rejoice, others had mixed reactions; hoping rather that Cameron might tackle some other dormant projects that were gaining buzz.
Up until the announcement, the director was reportedly in discussions with SONY pictures to helm a massive production of "Cleopatra" with Angelina Jolie rumored for the lead. Fox apparently wasn't too keen to put their juggernaut franchise on hold ("Avatar" raked in $2.8 billion worldwide) and, according to Cameron, made a "huge" donation to his environmental green fund to sweeten the deal.
Granted, I'm not sure what "environmental green fund" he's talking about. I'm fairly sure he has yet to organize one (unless this in the seed money he was looking for) -- but perhaps he was talking about a donation to the fights against Prop 23? After all, Cameron himself donated $1 million to the cause two weeks ago. Perhaps Fox did something similar?
Either way, all of this means that the buzz surrounding the sequels is only going to get louder -- which is exactly what Fox was betting on. Cameron is expected to start work on scripts early next year, and will then decide whether or not to shoot the films back-to-back.
"Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience's expectations for the richness of AVATAR’s visual world and the power of the storytelling," he said in a statement. "In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of AVATAR’s visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world. I'm looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild."