James Cameron revealed to The Times UK that before “Avatar: The Way of Water” there was an entire “Avatar 2” screenplay that was written and then tossed in the trash. It turns out that at least an entire year of the 13-year gap between 2009’s “Avatar” and 2022’s “The Way of Water” was spent on a scenario that will never see the light of day.
“When I sat down with my writers to start ‘Avatar 2,’ I said we can’t do the next one until we understand why the first one did so well,” Cameron said. “We need to crack the code of what the hell happened.”
Cameron and his team came to the following conclusion: “All films work on different levels. The first is surface, which is character, problem and solution. The second is thematic. What is the movie trying to say? But ‘Avatar’ also works on a third level, the subconscious. I wrote an entire script for the sequel, read it and realized it didn’t make it to level three. Tree. Start over. That took a year.”
During a performance on “The Marianne Williamson Podcast” last year, Cameron elaborated more on this third tier which he believes has led to “Avatar” becoming the highest-grossing film of all time at the global box office.
“There was also a tertiary level … it was a dreamy sense of a desire to be there, to be in that space, to be in a place that’s safe and where you wanted to be,” Cameron said. “Whether that was flying, that feeling of freedom and excitement, or being in the forest where you can smell the earth. It was something sensory communicating on such a deep level. That was the spirituality of the first film.”
Cameron revealed in the same interview that he nearly fired his “Avatar” sequels for being so determined initially to create new stories as opposed to figuring out the DNA that made the first film a record breaker.
“As I sat down to write the sequels, I knew there would be three at that point and eventually it became four. I put together a group of writers and said, ‘I don’t want anyone’s new ideas or anyone’s pitches until we get some time. spent trying to figure out what worked on the first movie, what was related to it and why it worked,” Camerons said. “They kept talking about the new stories. I said, ‘We’re not doing that yet.’ In the end I had to threaten to fire them all because they were doing what writers do, which is trying to create new stories. I said, ‘We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.’”
“Avatar: The Way of Water” hits theaters December 16.