There are no firm plans for Avatar 2 yet, but James Cameron has been spending time in Brazil, talking to indigenous tribespeople about Pandora. We grilled producer Jon Landau about Avatar 2, plus why the Avatar DVD/Blu-Ray has no extras.
We sat with Landau at the roundtable interviews about the forthcoming Avatar Blu-Ray release, and quizzed him on everything Avatar, from his reaction to criticisms of the film, to why this Blu-Ray and DVD release doesn't have any extras, such as a commentary track or deleted scenes — and what we can expect next from the Avatar creators. Here are some excerpts from his Q&A with reporters:
In the presentation, you shared a story about the challenges filming Sam Worthington underwater. During the scene where Jake Sully falls into the water, you didn't know how to shoot it, until you plopped him on an office chair, with wheels, and had him act out swimming in the air. Can you share any more challenges and how you met them while making Avatar?
There were challenges every day. There was a time, several times on the film, where we had to stop to name something. Because there was no name for what we were doing and we were going to do it again [in the filming process] And if we didn't stop to figure out what we should call it, [then] next time we needed to refer to it, we woudln't be able to do it. In one case, it had to do with the data we were capturing and cleaning it up to different levels. And one of our most brilliant technologists said we should just call it NSBs. So for three years we kept referring to this as NSBs. Later, when I asked him what that meant and he said, "Nothing." He'd just made it up because he was tired of standing around, I thought it was this genius who came up with something. Then I go on the Tintin set, where Peter Jackson and Steven are using basically the same process, and I hear someone else call out, "NSBs!"
For this initial DVD/Blu-Ray release, we're not getting any commentary track [or behind the scenes]. I will address the elephant in the room, so to speak.
But it's not an elephant in the room. An elephant in the room is something people don't speak about. We're very candid about it. We're not sitting there saying to the consumer, "By the way, here's this thing, and we have a few little frills on it." And not tell them that, by the way, later on, there's going to be something with even more frills. We're being very upfront. We're coming out now, and the reason we're coming out with this right now is because there truly is a demand for people who want to return to Pandora. We could not put together a quality special addition in this time frame. We just couldn't do it. In addition to which, the best quality that people can see this movie in, is with less material on the disk. The people who want the added content [are] a small section of the fan base. We're telling them, "If you want to wait, wait." We're rushing to make November anyway, with this content. But for the people that don't care about that... We're saying, "Here, every bit of data and [space on this] Blu-Ray is devoted to the movie."
What will the downside be to waiting until November? The presentation quality?
The November release is going to be a four-disc collection. Now, I'm just making this up. I'm not saying this is going to happen, but maybe there's one disc that is exactly the same disc that is out now. Maybe it's the other three discs that are the added content... We want each thing to stand up on its own.
Some sites have claimed that Avatar's story is borrowed extensively from other sources, including comic books and various movies. How do you feel about that?
Okay. Titanic is Romeo and Juliet. Anytime somebody says, it's like "X," I say, "Was there another planet in the story? No. Were there blue aliens in the movie? No. Was there a native tribe? No." You can look at science fiction, and look at any number of things, and say, "Star Wars is derivative [of various classic stories.] And maybe Westerns." ... If the audience goes and they have a unique experience, whether it's in a movie or reading a book... How different are any of our superheroes, when you talk about comics? When you break it down and start analyzing?
Are we going to see a 3-D Earth in Avatar 2?
I don't think that's been defined yet, I would think, though, the movie will take place in other worlds.
How are the Na'vi going to leave Pandora without spaceships?
Why do they have to leave Pandora?
We've read reports that there will be different kinds of Na'vi species, and visits to other planets.
You believe everything you read?
Where are you right now in production with Avatar 2?
We are nowhere. We have a commitment that we want to make it. We have to work out a deal with Fox to make it. Fox wants us to make it. We've chosen on our own side to keep these people on as our team. We're continually thinking about it. We recently made a trip down to Brazil and learned a lot. Not just about the world and what's going on the issues there, but how it relates to Avatar and the world of Pandora. Jim meeting indigenous tribes down there, we are a culmination of our past experiences. And these experiences like in Brazil and presenting on the 24th, Avatar to the indigenous tribes United Nation here in New York. All of that is going to inform us about Avatar 2.
What is the green message of Avatar?
What I think people take away, or what it was intended to be — I think it's all different. What I think has happened, having been around the world with the film... The movie opens with eyes open, and it ends with eyes open. I think there's an awakening of people. It's something that they are more conscious of. I don't think they've necessarily figured it out for themselves.And the movie doesn't intend to preach. There are no facts, no information is being given. It just basically says, "Hey, this is something for you to think about. And for you to make your own choices." Someone said this to me — and I think this is really great — "After I saw Avatar, I noticed for the first time the oak tree that's been in my front yard for 15 years."
Landau also mentioned his favorite anti-Avatar "backlash" moment, which was really more of a spoof, was this skit, featuring Fran Drescher auditioning for the part in Avatar:
And finally, that little jar of squiggly stuff in the right hand corner of this shot, below? That's not an Alien face-hugger, according to Landau. So cross off that potential Easter egg.
The extra-less Avatar DVD and Blu-Ray will be available Thursday, April 22.