James Cameron has just released plot details for an Avatar sequel - with the action looking likely to take place in the ocean this time around. Avatar - which overtook Cameron's earlier blockbuster, Titanic, to become the most profitable movie yet - grossed $2.7 billion (Dh10bn) in ticket sales worldwide after it was released in cinemas late last year. And as if becoming the biggest movie in history were not accolade enough, it has been reported that last Thursday's first-day sales of the DVD was around the four million mark, breaking the record set by The Dark Knight.
(To underline Avatar's environmental message, Twentieth Century Fox departed from its normal practice of releasing films on Tuesdays, choosing Earth Day - April 22 - for the occasion instead.) The DVD also looks on course to overtake New Moon as the biggest seller of the year, with a Blu-ray edition slated for a November release. Cameron, the film's director and creator, is also due to unleash an extended version on cinema screens this summer. Having had to cut 40 minutes from the original release - such was the studio's hurry to get the movie out in time for the Christmas holidays - Cameron has confirmed his intention to reinstate 10 to 12 minutes of the deleted footage for the movies second run.
Scenes with Jake Sully's (Sam Worthington) avatar proving himself to the Na'vi people of Pandora, as well as a native festival, are reported to be among several of the scenes due to be restored. With Avatar having to make way for Tim Burton's 3D vision of Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans (also starring Worthington) and the child-friendly feature How To Train Your Dragon at Imax cinemas, Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox feel a re-release would recoup lost earnings.
Cameron told the Los Angeles Times: "We were sold out of our Imax performances right up to the moment until they were contractually obligated to switch to Alice in Wonderland, so we know we left money on the table there." Lost money aside, don't worry about the sequel from Cameron - who took 15 years to get Avatar made according to how he had envisioned it - taking quite as long to reach us as the original film:
"The challenge on the next Avatar is to do what we did before at half the price and in half the time. Again, that's an impossible goal. We won't accomplish that, but if we can reduce by 25 per cent in both categories, we'll have really accomplished something," he said. Avatar's groundbreaking use of 3D was a big draw when the film was released, but how keen will fans be on a second visit? Cameron says that by setting the new film in the ocean rather than the rainforest, he'll be giving audiences a new perspective on Pandora. But his plans don't stop there.
"We created a broad canvas for the environment of film. That's not just on Pandora, but throughout the Alpha Centauri AB star system [the setting that Cameron created]. And we expand out across that system and incorporate more into the story - not necessarily into the second film, but more towards a third film." And it's not just Cameron who's looking towards the future. Worthington and Zoe Saldana, who plays the Pandora native Neytiri in Avatar, look set to reprise their roles in the sci-fi series.
Speaking at an LA press conference for Clash of the Titans, Worthington said: "I think at the moment he [Cameron] is busy with other things, but it's definitely on the books." He added: "I think the fact that it got embraced so quickly, so amazingly, which is mind-blowing for all of us, means an audience wouldn't mind going back to Pandora with us. I don't know about five. I know it would be three, probably, but if you do the second one and it's terrible, you don't do the third one. It all depends on audiences. That's why you make movies."