James Cameron confirms Fantastic Voyage, Battle Angel

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Avatar, James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi epic, is envisioned as the start of a franchise, and Cameron confirmed Friday that he has "mapped out" sequels for the movie, which is one of the film's he'd direct next—that, or his long-envisioned film version of the anime Battle Angel Alita. Cameron, meanwhile, confirmed that he is producing and developing a script for—but will not direct—a new version of the classic sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage, which he promised will be "very different."

With regard to sequels to Avatar, which opens on Dec. 18, Cameron said, "We joked about this all the time. We cut to 10 years later, Jake's [Sam Worthington] kind of fat and sitting in Home Tree and says, 'Honey get me a beer,' and Neytiri's [Zoe Saldana] like, 'Get your own beer.' You know, that's kind of the reality of a love story 10 years later [laughs]."

Seriously, though, Cameron said in a press conference in London: "Actually, you know, when I pitched this to 20th Century Fox four and a half years ago, I said, 'You know, we're going to spend a lot of money and time and energy creating not only a process but the assets, the CG assets, we call them: all the models of every rock and tree and plant and creature and the muscle rigs for all the creatures and the facial rigging for the main characters and all that,' and [that's] huge, millions and millions of dollars. So it really makes sense to think of it as the potential start of a franchise, if you will, or a saga that plays out over several acts, each movie being an act of that saga. And I have it mapped out, but I haven't written the scripts yet. And it all depends on whether we do well with the first film. But that was certainly the intention from the beginning: to create a foundation for a persistent world."

Cameron confirmed to SCI FI Wire after the press conference that he will produce the new Fantastic Voyage, based on the 1966 sci-fi movie that starred Raquel Welch, about a team of scientists in a miniaturized submarine who navigate a human body to zap an inoperable tumor blood clot. "Well, we've been working on a script for Fantastic Voyage, but that's not for me to direct," Cameron said. "That's just a produced project, yeah. It's quite different. But it's got enough of the original story that you'll still recognize it."

Cameron also confirmed that he's still considering directing Battle Angel Alita, based on a manga series that is also the basis of a popular anime series, about an amnesiac female cyborg who is discovered in a futuristic dystopian world. "Battle Angel is one of the films I'll be considering when I decide what to do next," Cameron added.

Does that mean he'd do any Avatar sequel afterwards? "Not necessarily," he said. "That's part of the decision-making process."

Look for more Avatar news and a review on SCI FI Wire soon!