Even though James Cameron’s Avatar released more than a decade ago, the film’s recent re-release in China once again made it the highest-grossing movie of all time. Clearly, audiences continue to be enamored by the world of the alien planet Pandora that Cameron brought to life in Avatar. In an interview for The Marianne Williamson Podcast, the filmmaker revealed that he had to threaten to fire the group of writers working on the Avatar sequels in order to make them focus on figuring out what made the first movie so impactful for audiences.
“When I sat down to write the sequels, I knew there were going to be three at the time and eventually it turned into four, I put together a group of writers and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anybody’s new ideas or anyone’s pitches until we have spent some time figuring out what worked on the first film, what connected, and why it worked. They kept wanting to talk about the new stories. I said, ‘We aren’t doing that yet.’ Eventually I had to threaten to fire them all because they were doing what writers do, which is to try and create new stories. I said, ‘We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.'”
At first glance, there is not a whole lot in Avatar that is particularly new or original moving into Avatar 2 and beyond. The movie follows all the tropes of the typical “foreign invasion” movie, where a group of violent outsiders equipped with superior technology attacks a peaceful civilization for their resources, and are eventually driven back by the peaceful natives teaming up with one of the invaders, who had defected to the other side.
It’s the same kind of story that Hollywood has churned out again and again with FernGully, Pocahontas, and Dune. Yet, something about Avatar struck a chord with audiences enough to make it the highest-grossing movie of all time not just once but twice.
Some say the reason for the success of Avatar lies in its shrewd use of 3D technology to bring the lush world of Pandora alive in front of audiences. But later movies which also used 3D graphics to piggyback on the success of Avatar was nowhere near as profitable at the box office.
Hopefully, Cameron and his group of writers were finally able to narrow in on the “X” factor that made Avatar so special and will be able to replicate the appeal of the original movie in the planned multiple sequels that the world has been waiting for a decade to witness.
Written and directed by James Cameron, Avatar 2 stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Edie Falco, Kate Winslet, Oona Chaplin, Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, and David Thewlis. The film is slated to release in theaters on December 16, 2022.