A small Avatar 2 crew is heading back to New Zealand to complete filming on the first sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 box office smash. They will reportedly enter a two-week quarantine period before production restarts on the long-in-gestation movie.
Producer Jon Landau confirmed the move in a new interview with RNZ, where he explained that the country’s excellent response to the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed work on Avatar 2 to resume more quickly than on other projects.
“We feel very comfortable because of the actions of [the NZ] government and also the responsibility the people took to really curb the virus there,” he said. “So we feel we’re coming back to the safest place in the world possible thanks to a team of people that we’ve worked with. We believe we have a very thoughtful, detailed and diligent safety plan that will keep everybody as safe as possible in these unprecedented times.”
Landau also talked about the plot of Avatar 2, describing Cameron’s approach to his many Pandora-set sequels as similar to that of The Lord of the Rings, which was also filmed extensively in Peter Jackson’s native New Zealand.
“This is the story of the Sully family and what one does to keep their family together,” he presumably said exactly like Ron Howard at the start of Arrested Development. “Jake and Neytiri have a family in this movie, they are forced to leave their home, they go out and explore the different regions of Pandora, including spending quite a bit of time on the water, around the water, in the water. I think, why do people turn to entertainment today, more so than ever? I think it’s to escape, to escape the world we’re in, to escape the other pressures they have in their lives… I think with Avatar, we have an opportunity to allow people to escape to an incredible world with incredible characters that they will follow, in much the same way as Peter Jackson was able to do with Lord of the Rings, so that’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”
Landau previously promised that the Avatar sequels will be more open to audiences than The Lord of the Rings, though, as each film will complete its full story by the time the credits roll.
“Each movie is a standalone movie that we would wanna go see,” he revealed. “You don’t need to have seen the first Avatar to see Avatar 2. It sits there and we’re gonna take people on a visual and an emotional journey that comes to its own conclusion.”
Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana reprise their roles as Jake Sully and Neytiri respectively in Avatar 2, with Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, CCH Pounder, and Matt Gerald all returning, too.
Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Oona Chaplin, David Thewlis and Vin Diesel also have roles in the sequel, which is one of four that Cameron has currently planned out – Avatar 2 is currently eyeing a December 17, 2021 release date, and the next three films in the franchise are planned for December releases in 2023, 2025 and 2027.