James Cameron Threatened Avatar Sequel Writers’ Jobs To Keep Them Focused

James Cameron threatened the job security of the Avatar sequel writers in order to keep them focused on staying true to what made the original a hit.

James Cameron threatened to fire the Avatar sequel writers in order to keep them focused on what worked in the original film. Avatar hit theaters in December 2009 and is the highest-grossing movie of all time. The Oscar-winning director has four follow-up entries to the franchise in the works. 

It’s been nearly 12 years since Avatar came out and, since then, Cameron has released details regarding his plans for continuing the epic adventure sparking comparisons to Disney’s other hit sci-fi franchise, Star Wars, and rightfully so. The first Avatar earned over $2.8 billion at the global box office leaving little doubt the demand is high for more. Avatar 2 is set to hit theaters on December 16, 2022. The story introduced in the original installment follows a paraplegic Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who takes a life-changing mission to the moon Pandora. Instead of following orders, which would have driven the Na’vi people from the land for corporate interests, Jake finds a new home and purpose there as he identifies with his Na’vi avatar and seeks out to help Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and her alien-like species.

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Related: Avatar 2’s Villain Arc Is Already Avoiding Star Wars’ Palpatine Problem

Cameron gave further insight into his drawn-out process in bringing more Avatar movies to the masses when he sat down for a recent interview with The Marianne Williamson Podcast. Acknowledging the massive success of the movie, which “was the number one film in basically every country,” the director elaborated on the development process of the highly-anticipated sequels. While it sounds like the writers were amped to bring new ideas to the table, Cameron was adamant about staying true to the original. So adamant, in fact, that he threatened to fire his writers to keep them focused on the task at hand.

When I sat down to write the sequels, I knew there were going to be three at the time and eventually it turned into four, I put together a group of writers and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anybody’s new ideas or anyone’s pitches until we have spent some time figuring out what worked on the first film, what connected, and why it worked. They kept wanting to talk about the new stories. I said, ‘We aren’t doing that yet.’ Eventually I had to threaten to fire them all because they were doing what writers do, which is to try and create new stories. I said, ‘We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.’


Avatar James Cameron


It’s evident Cameron is the driving force behind the Avatar series. For him, it isn’t simply the story being told, but the universal themes of belonging and human-to-nature connection that have resonated across cultural lines. There’s a lot riding on the success of the planned installments, obviously, with big box office hopes on the horizon for the Avatar sequels. If the next movies don’t fulfill the high expectations of audiences, that could spell huge trouble for the filmmaker who has been immersed in developing the expansively cinematic story for well over a decade.

Threatening the job security of the Avatar sequel writers does feel a bit harsh, though. He’s the captain of the proverbial ship. And the ship in question is sporting some astounding and immersive 3-D technology. To be involved with such a project sounds like a writer’s dream. In fact, there are plenty of theories about new characters and storylines in Avatar 2 keeping audiences excited. Having writers bringing Cameron new and engaging Avatar ideas simply sounds like a wonderful problem to have. 

Next: Avatar 2: Everything We Know About Its Record-Breaking Underwater Scenes

Source: The Marianne Williamson Podcast

  • Avatar 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
  • Avatar 3 (2024)Release date: Dec 20, 2024
  • Avatar 4 (2026)Release date: Dec 18, 2026
  • Avatar 5 (2028)Release date: Dec 22, 2028

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Updated: April 1, 2021 — 9:22 pm

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