February 4, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

James Cameron on the release of the long-awaited Avatar sequel: ‘It’s a relief’

SAM WORTHINGTON in Avatar: The Way of Water

LONDON – Filmmaker James Cameron takes audiences into his visually stunning world of Pandora and releases the sequel to his epic 2009 Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time.

The stakes are high for Avatar: The Way of Water, which has reportedly cost more than $350 million and comes 13 years after the original, which grossed $2.9 billion worldwide, and has more Avatar films in preparation are.

“It’s a relief. We’ve sat on this egg for a long time and brought it out in front of people, the response so far has been overwhelmingly good,” Mr Cameron said in an interview.

Set more than a decade after the original, which saw Pandora’s blue Na’vi battling human colonists for the moon’s natural resources, The Way of the Water picks up on protagonists Jake Sully and Neytiri, who are now parents to five children.

Her peaceful life in the jungle paradise is interrupted by the return of the “Skymen”, the Na’vi term for people who are after Sully. Sully, Neytiri, and their children flee to a far-flung area, seeking refuge with the oceanic Metkayina clan. They must quickly learn the ways of water to survive amidst the approaching threat of their enemy.

Asked if he was concerned the 13-year gap might affect interest, Mr Cameron said: “It was a very legitimate concern, I didn’t feel it instinctively, but it was always a possibility. Then in May we released our first teaser trailer which had 148 million views within 24 hours. I don’t worry about that anymore.

“What worries me is that the market has shrunk due to the double whammy of streaming and the pandemic, it’s slowly coming back…so can we be profitable in a changed market? … We’ll know in a couple of weeks, I think.”

The new film, which opens in worldwide cinemas on December 14, reunites Mr. Cameron with fellow Titanic star Kate Winslet, who plays the shamanic matriarch of the Metkayina clan.

Ms. Winslet performed her own underwater stunts and learned to hold her breath for a few minutes while preparing for the role.

“When you flood sets at Titanic, you never knew if a chair slipped past you or someone hit a table or a floating cushion,” she said.

“With Avatar… everything is completely planned. The safety has to be there of course because you are performing underwater at 20 feet and you have to be very respectful and calm to make everything work like clockwork.”

At the world premiere in London on Tuesday, actors Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana – who return as Jake Sully and Neytiri – spoke to Reuters.

“This has been a labor of love spanning over a decade so it’s great to finally be able to share it,” Mr Worthington told Reuters.

“This is a heartbreaking story, it’s powerful, it’s very powerful, you hope it connects (with the audience), but it’s not just the copy of the first, we’ve really expanded the world, we’ve expanded that family unit .”

Ms Saldana said reprising her role was “emotional”.

“It was exciting, it was also very scary because obviously Jim had upped the ante on himself, which meant everyone had a brand new challenge to take on,” she said.

Sigourney Weaver plays the adopted daughter of Kiri, Neytiri and Sully. Her biological mother is Dr. Grace Augustine who played Ms. Weaver in the original film.

“It was such an incredible adventure,” she said.

Four Avatar films are planned by 2028.

“I never had any doubts that that day would come because I’d read all four scripts… but I think the sheer magnitude of the task, of building the world… creating this whole new level of detail… that was difficult,” said producer Jon Landau, adding that most of the third film has been shot.

“We will continue to explore new places on Pandora, we will continue to meet new and diverse clans.” – Reuters