James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels

James Cameron and Peter Jackson

While Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Fives Armies hogs the New Zealand limelight, a quiet corner of the North Island houses James Cameron as he beavers away on the scripts for his next two Avatar films, currently known as Avatars 2, 3 and 4 but soon no doubt to be furnished with sexier, more descriptive titles. ‘Eywa Hard With A Vengeance’, that kind of thing.

“I can tell you one thing about them,” Cameron laughs when Empire nonchalantly enquires about storylines. “They’re gonna be bitchin’. You will shit yourself with your mouth wide open.”

Despite early rumours of a move to 60 frames per second, 48 is Cameron’s choice of frame rate for the sequels. “My thinking at the time was that 60 [FPS] might be a better segue to the video market,” he says. “I’ll be plugging into a system that’s a little more mature, so it makes sense for me to do 48 frames at this point.”

The writer/director has divided the two scripts across a writing team that includes Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Josh Friedman and Shane Salerno. “I think we met for seven months and we whiteboarded out every scene in every film together,” Cameron explains, “and I didn’t assign each writer which film they were going to work on until the last day. I knew if I assigned them their scripts ahead of time, they’d tune out every time we were talking about the other movie,” he laughs.

As part of January’s Peter Jackson-edited issue, Cameron also chatted about his burgeoning relationship with the Kiwi filmmaking doyen. As it turns out, Jackson and his writing team, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, made a significant contribution to Avatar. “When Neytiri is holding Jake and she’s just brought him back to consciousness, the 'I see you' line was suggested by them,” remembers Cameron. “It might have been Peter who said that.”

Pick up the new issue of Empire – on sale on November 27 – for much more from Cameron on his plans for the Avatar sequels, Jackson and life in the Wairarapa Valley.