James Cameron Compares 'Avatar' Sequels to 'The Godfather'

James Cameron said the Avatar sequels he has been working on ever since the first film came out nearly a decade ago will be similar to The Godfather. He is now thinking of telling a "generational family saga" set on Pandora.

During press day for his upcoming documentary series James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, Cameron said he is about "one hundred" days into production on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, which are being shot at the same time. As for the story, he is telling in these movies, it has evolved into something like Mario Puzo's Corleone family saga.

"In terms of the story we’re telling…,” Cameron began, reports Collider, “I’ve found myself as a father of five starting to think about what would an Avatar story be like if it was a family drama. What if it was The Godfather? So that’s what [the Avatar sequels are] – it’s a generational family saga."

Cameron said the new films will be "very different" from the first one.

"There’s still the same setting and the same respect for the ‘shock of the new,'" Cameron continued. "We still want to show you things that you haven’t even seen or imagined, but the story is very different. It’s a continuation of the same characters… but what happens when warriors who are willing to go on suicide charges and leap off cliffs, what happens when they grow up and have their own kids? It becomes a very different story. Now the kids are the risk takers and the change makers."

The director also told reporters that he has not started any work on the fourth and fifth Avatar films, even though he knows his story will not end until a fifth film.

"We’ve done most of the design work though – so we know what the characters and the creatures and the location design look like… I’m personally committed to all of them," he said.

However, the Titanic director told Vanity Fair in November 2017 that the fourth and fifth films would only happen if the second and third are financially successful.

"Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5," Cameron said at the time. "They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, 'Oh, s—, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.' Even though that all worked and everybody did."

Cameron has also been busy with work on the sixth Terminator movie, which will jettison the plans from the 2015 flop Terminator Genisys and will be directed by Tim Miller. Cameron was not involved in Genisys, but he is producing Miller's film and had input on the story.

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“We’re developing a new Terminator film. And The Terminator films are all about artificial intelligence," Cameron told reporters this week. "But I would say we’re looking at it differently than when I wrote the first story in 1982. That was just your classic ‘technology bad, smart computers bad’ kind of thing. Nowadays though – it’s got to be a much more nuanced perspective. So its ‘Smart computers bad… BUT…’ That’s the new motif."

Avatar 2 opens in December 2020, while Terminator 6 opens on Nov. 22, 2019. As for Cameron's Story of Science Fiction, it kicks off on AMC on Monday, April 30.