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Where are those promised 'Avatar' sequels?

Fans of the 2009 3-D blockbuster “Avatar” will have to wait at least three more years for its first sequel to hit theaters, filmmaker James Cameron told the New York Times.

AP file

"Avatar" came out in 2009, but sequels are still years away.

While talking to the newspaper about the $16 million dollar plot of land he purchased in New Zealand, Cameron indicated that “Avatar 2” wouldn’t be ready until “2015 or later.”

We've pulled together what is known about the "Avatar" sequels.

How many sequels?
At least two, but probably three. The original plan was for a trilogy, but Cameron told the Times he hasn't ruled out the possibility of "Avatar 4," and star Sigourney Weaver told Showbiz 411 she's heading to New Zealand to shoot three sequels.

What are they about?
In 2011, Cameron told ABC’s Nightline that the first follow-up to his Academy Award-winning fantasy would focus on a new aspect of the fictional planet – its oceans – and that the trilogy would fulfill a story arc based on the same “feel” as the original, but expanding upon the setting.

“We will see the oceans of Pandora, which we haven't seen at all, and that's an ecosystem that I'm dying to start designing because it’s going to look spectacular,” Cameron said at the time. “But now it narrows the spotlight instead of just nature in general or the rainforest. It focuses it a little more on ocean issues, because we’ve got a planet that's a blue planet. ...  And there will be other planets as well, besides Pandora. It will be a cornucopia, a treat for the eyes.”

When are they set?
New York Magazine's Vulture asked Cameron about Weaver’s role in the “Avatar” sequel, pointing out the fact her character dies in the first film, and he replied, “Well, I don’t want to disabuse her of that fantasy. But have you ever heard of nonlinear storytelling? A lot happens on that planet before she shows up, and before Jake shows up to join her. She’s there for 15 years ahead of time. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

Where will they be shot?
New Zealand, of course.  The director’s enormous plot of land there is not far from director Peter Jackson's studio, where the Times reports the sequels primarily will be shot. According to reports, the upcoming production is expected to employ hundreds of New Zealanders. Many of them have experience working with Jackson, and point out that he and Cameron are very different bosses. One prop technician told the Times, " “You have to understand that we don’t have much experience outside of Peter, who is soft-spoken and gentle. Jim Cameron sometimes shouted at us, and our instinct was to take it personally.”

Besides Weaver, who else is returning?
Most of the cast, likely. In addition to Weaver, co-stars Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington are expected to return for the 2015 edition.

Will the sequels hold the same appeal?
Of course. “It's just a continuation of the same thing. I want people to feel that same sense of excitement about that world,” Cameron told 'Nightline.' “You know, the fictional Na'vi people and I want them to feel that excitement of discovery of a new world that they're going to see things that they haven't imagined. All that sort of the perk package of the first movie is still going to be there. And the themes will be there and be played out in a way that I think people can accept.”

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