James Cameron revealed to The Times UK that before ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, there was a full ‘Avatar 2’ script that was written and then thrown away. 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 storyline that will never see the light of day.
“When I sat down with my writers to start ‘Avatar 2,’ I said we couldn’t do the next one until we figured out why the first one did so well,” Cameron said. “We need to crack the code of what happened.”
Cameron and his team came to the following conclusion: “All films work on different levels. The first is the surface, which is character, problem and resolution. The second is thematic. What is the film 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. Boom. Restart. It took a year.
During an appearance on “The Marianne Williamson Podcast” last year, Cameron elaborated further on this third tier that he says helped “Avatar” become the highest-grossing film of all time at the box- global office.
“There was also a tertiary level…it was a dreamlike feeling of a desire to be there, to be in that space, to be somewhere safe and where you wanted to be,” Cameron said. “Whether it’s flying, that feeling of freedom and elation, or whether it’s being in the forest where you can smell the earth. It was a sensory thing that communicated 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” sequel writers because they were initially so determined to create new stories instead of uncovering the DNA that made the first film a record-breaker.
“When I sat down to write the sequels I knew there would be three at a time and eventually it became four, I got a group of writers together and said, ‘I don’t want hear new ideas from anyone or pitches from anyone until we’ve spent time figuring out what worked on the first film, what was related and why it worked,” Camerons said. “They kept wanting to talk about the new stories. I said, ‘We’re not doing it yet.’ Eventually 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 have to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.’
“Avatar: The Way of the Water” hits theaters on December 16.