That's right, there will be not just one or even two sequels to "Avatar." Cameron has mapped out a whopping four sequels, making a total of five "Avatar" movies in total, and that's before they even started production on the second movie.
RELATED: Avatar is Good, Not Great [Review]
Regular readers of this blog will know what we've been pretty hard on the CGI-heavy, visual effects laden, takes-itself-too-seriously, cliche-riddled White Savior "science fantasy" movie "Avatar." Which is why we're kind of baffled as to how we got to a place where there needs to be five of these movies in the world. Here's why:
1) The First Movie Barely Told a Story
As we proved scientifically before, the first "Avatar" was badly-written. Even its greatest fans will admit it's not written too well. Most of it was bloated with stunning visual sequences to hide the fact that the story could have been written on a cocktail napkin with room left over for the closing credits. If Cameron couldn't come up with enough material for a single movie, it staggers the imagination that Cameron has found a way to pad out the story for four more movies.
From some reports, the sequels will be about the Avatar "Universe," exploring other planets in the solar system and beyond. That gives him more room, since he's pretty much tapped the story on Pandora, but it remains to be seen if Cameron has enough ideas to sustain it. We personally are doubtful.
2) Nobody Makes Pentalogies On Purpose
Hollywood is currently in the throes of "trilogy-itis." No successful movie can be made without the studio desperately trying to wring three movies out of it, and usually the series stalls at the second movie. It's very hard to make a concept sustain itself for even three movies, let alone four. And five is unheard-of.
It's been done a few times successfully with movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Transformers" and "Die Hard," but most of those movies have one thing in common: by the fifth movie, people are complaining the series has gone on too long. But sometimes they manage to pull it off. Look at the "Fast and the Furious" franchise which is still going strong at nine movies with demand for more.
The difference between "Avatar" and all those other pentalogies (bet you didn't even know that was a word) is that none of them were planned as a pentalogy. Usually, the studio will plan for a trilogy, find demand after the third movie, and crank out another two. The idea that Cameron and the studio is so confident that the sequel will be a success that audiences will demand three more seems like the height of hubris. The original movie was a huge success, but that's no guarantee the sequels will match it. If "Avatar 2" flops, the studio will have set itself up with an epic problem: cancel the series at two with egg on their faces or plow forward with the third with fingers crossed it will do better. And the process might repeat with "Avatar 3."
3) Even Quadrilogies Flop
into a quadrilogy. It seemed like a safe bet, since they had a hit three-book series to work from, and they figured they could pad out the third book into two. It had worked for "Harry Potter" and "Hunger Games," right?
Well, by the second movie, the steam had drained out of the franchise. The third movie underperformed so badly that Lionsgate cancelled the theatrical release of the fourth and is trying to recoup their losses by turning the fourth movie into a TV movie with a possible series to follow. Even that isn't a guarantee. So much for the Divergent Quadrilogy.
Or they could talk to Sony Pictures, which planned out an ambitious four-film series based on their "Amazing Spider-Man" property. The plan was to release "Amazing Spider-Man 2," which would spin-off into a "Sinister Six" and "Venom" movie. They had release dates and everything, only to have it all flame out on the dismal failure of "Amazing Spider-Man 2." Sony gave Spider-Man back to Marvel, and quietly walked away.
It's not easy to make a hit movie series. Once again, Cameron seems pretty cocky to think he can pull it off.
4) James Cameron Wants to Be George Lucas
From interviews, it seems like Cameron isn't satisfied with being an Academy Award-winning director. He wants to be a science-fiction god the likes of George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry. He often talks more about the world he's created and how carefully he's designed it than he does about the actual movie. In short, he talks like Lucas, who loves to explain how he came up with lightsabers and Chewbacca more than he talks about character development and storytelling.
Frankly, Lucas is not someone to aspire to. Long before Disney quietly took away the keys to the Star Wars franchise and sent him off to his corner, Lucas had completely lost touch with "Star Wars" and what made it great. It's not a coincidence that the new movies are far better than any of the prequels Lucas created. He became more focused on being cheered at conventions and making toys than he was with making good movies.
Cameron seems to want the same thing, to create a science fiction universe that will be hailed by generations, and generate toys, spin-offs, and books. He's eager to get people wearing Avatar costumes and speaking Na'vi, and the movie itself seems like a means to that end. The difference is that "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" had unique and compelling worlds. "Avatar" is just recycled sci-fi cliches. Do we really need more of those?
5) The First Movie Sucked
Let's just say that again. The first movie sucked. We're not saying there isn't room for people loving it, and it's highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes, and we can understand why people like it, but it sucked. The only reason it's so beloved is because it had special effects unlike anything anyone had seen before, and that's not a reason to enjoy a movie. "Star Wars" has amazing special effects, but also a great story to go with it. Even if Lucas had filmed "Star Wars" with sets made of cardboard and lightsabers made of broomsticks, it would still be a good movie. Imagine if Cameron had made "Avatar" in the 1980s with actors painted blue jumping around trees in Southern California. Would it still be your favorite movie? Exactly.
Most of the success of Avatar came from the visuals. Once audiences have seen another movie and another with the same visuals, what will be left? The story. See #1.
Are you looked forward to the Avatar Pentalogy?
"Avatar" is Badly-Written, Period
The Flawed Science of "Avatar" (7-part series)
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