James Cameron’s Avatar sequels in ‘full-tilt’ production

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Aug 24, 2017, 5:54 PM EDT

The expression likely goes farther back than poker, but for those of us who play, “full-tilt” means you’re still pissed about a bad beat on a previous hand, and making mistakes that affect your current performance, which generally snowballs into you being out of the game and 20 bucks poorer. Here’s hoping director James Cameron has a different meaning for the phrase, because according to him, the four – count ‘em! – Avatar sequels are finally, after many years of development, in “full-tilt” production.

While speaking with Entertainment Weekly recently about this weekend’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D release, Cameron was asked about the state of Avatar. And it sounds like Cameron is not a poker player, because he’s using “full-tilt” way differently:

“Oh, we’re in production... We’re in full-tilt production. We’re in what we call ‘scouting,’ which basically is shooting for me. I’m on the stage all day long during the scouting process, because there are no sets or locations, other than in the virtual world, so I do all my location-scouting with a troop of actors that go through the virtual sets, and give me a sense of the scale and position, lighting, that sort of thing. Then, I’m in rehearsals with my principal cast and I start with them at the end of September.”

So it sounds like here, “full-tilt” production really means virtual location scouting. But hey, we’ll take it after all these years.


In our “Everything we know about the Avatar Sequels so far” story, I expressed my excitement for the Avatar pentalogy, which Cameron has described as Jake and Neytiri’s family saga — their ongoing struggles with the humans trying to colonize Pandora. (And now I’m realizing yet another reason to be excited: the opportunity to write “pentalogy.”) While doubts remain about the first movie, and the ambitious scope of the sequels, if any director can pull it off, it’s Cameron, the man who literally built the Titanic to film a movie about it, who commissioned a submarine capable of 3D filming 36,000 feet below the surface for these sequels, and the man with vision enough to gift us some of the best movies we still talk about all the time around here.

So I have no reason to doubt that his best work still lies ahead. Let’s just hope he’s not playing too much poker.

All four films are expected to feature returning stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang (as sadistic Colonel Miles Quaritch). Avatar 2 (to be more heroically named later) is slated to open Dec. 18, 2020, with the sequels dropping Dec. 17, 2021, Dec. 20, 2024, and Dec. 19, 2025, when Stephen Lang will be 73 years young, and when James Cameron can finally take a day off, as he dreams about below ...