After a very busy week last week, things were a bit slower over the weekend in terms of production news, but maybe that’s because things are slowly getting back to some sort of normal.
Director James Cameron announced that the first sequel to his 2009 blockbuster Avatar has completely finished its filming, after being delayed by COVID-19 stoppages, while the second sequel is almost done filming as well. “Covid hit us like it hit everybody… We lost about four and a half months of production,” he told his long-time collaborator Arnold Schwarzenegger over a video call for the Austrian World Summit environment conference. “As a result of that, we’ve rolled around one more full year for a release in December of 2022. That’s been announced already. Now that doesn’t mean I have an extra year to finish the film, because the day we deliver Avatar 2 we’ll just start working on finishing Avatar 3.”
Although both sequels — two of four planned sequels to the $2.7 billion worldwide-grossing sci-fi fantasy epic — had titles for a while, they’re currently just called Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, and they’re scheduled for December 16, 2022 and December 20, 2024. That might seem like a long time for post but movies are likely to be heavily CG FX-driven films with so much created from the performance capture done on green screen sets. There’s a lot of pressure on Cameron by the films’ new distributor, Walt Disney Pictures, to deliver on the success of the first movie despite a nearly 13 -year gap between films.
The Avatar sequels were some of the first shows to return to production in New Zealand, one of the first countries to get COVID-19 under control, allowing it to reopen safely.
You gotta love Sacha Baron Cohen for secretly filming a new movie in the midst of a pandemic and one of the most political years in recent memory, but over the weekend, it was discovered that this secret project has a title… and it’s a doozy! The project filed with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) with a long list of credited writers, but not as long as the actual title which as of now is called — might want to sit down for this one — Borat: Gift of Pornographic Monkey to Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence to Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan. As with the original movie, which was a huge blockbuster that got Cohen a Golden Globe for his performance and an Oscar nomination for its script, Cohen is going for an insanely long title to add to the humor, which should amuse his fans even as it annoys movie writers that feel they need to write out the full title every time they write about the sequel.
Although Wes Anderson’s anticipated The French Dispatch was delayed until 2021 after its initial plans to premiere at the cancelled Cannes Film Festival and then get a summer release, the auteur isn’t resting on his laurels, at it was announced that he would begin filming an unnamed project in Rome, Italy starting in spring 2021. Like most of Anderson’s projects, this one is being kept under wraps in terms of the title or plot, although Anderson is already casting, and word is out that this will be some form of “romance.” At this point, it looks like Searchlight Studios are keeping The French Dispatch out of this year’s awards races, possibly to launch at Cannes next year.
Below the Line‘s Production Listings added a whole slew of new projects, including a number of “Christmas” telefilms, all beginning production in parts of Canada in mid-October.