James Cameron Making Next 3 ‘Avatar’ Movies in New Zealand

avatar sequels

Films expected to be released in 2016, 2017, 2018

James Cameron will make his next three “Avatar” films for 20th Century Fox in New Zealand.

Cameron said he expects the films to be released on the previously announced dates of December 2016,  December 2017 and December 2018.

The filmmaker made the announcement at a press conference in Wellington, N.Z., with the New Zealand’s prime minister John Key.

The three films will spend at least $412 million (500 million in New Zealand dollars) in that nation as a condition of an agreement between Fox, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and the government of New Zealand. In return, the films will receive a film industry tax rebate of 25% — a figure which was recently increased from 15%.

SEE ALSO: New Zealand Increases Film, TV Subsidies

“The ‘Avatar’ sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work directly in the screen sector as well as jobs right across the economy,” Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement.

“Avatar” producer Jon Landau and Paul Hanneman, Fox’s co-presidents of worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution, were also on hand for the announcment. “New Zealand offers unparalleled support to films of this scale,” Hanneman said.

Cameron praised the New Zealand production crews and special effects houses.

“Avatar,” released in 2009, is the highest-grossing movie with $2.78 billion worldwide. The sci-fi actioner was shot in Los Angeles and New Zealand.

Peter Jackson’s three “Hobbit” films were shot back-to-back-to-back in New Zealand with the final lensing taking place this fall. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” grossed over $1 billion and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” totaled $205 million in its opening weekend.

Cameron also said work on the “Avatar” sequels was already underway with Jackson’s Weta.

The deal for the three films receiving the 25% rebate was outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the New Zealand government, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. It specified that at least $412 million would be spent on production in New Zealand, including most  live action filming and visual effects.

The memorandum of understanding also spells out that 90% of live action crew are expected to be New Zealanders; an internship program will be supported; New Zealand will host at least one official red carpet premiere; and a featurette on New Zealand will be included in DVDs and Blu Rays.

The memorandum also states that Cameron and Landau have offered to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board to provide advice and guidance to New Zealand filmmakers looking to succeed internationally.

During an October interview, “Avatar” star Sam Worthington said he believed production on the sequel would begin by next October. Cameron had announced in August there would be three sequels and that screenwriters Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”), Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Rise of the Planets of the Apes”), and Shane Salerno (“Savages,” “Salinger”) would collaborate with him on screenplays for “Avatar 2,” “Avatar 3″ and “Avatar 4.”

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  1. Linda Caruana says:

    “The ‘Avatar’ sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work directly in the screen sector as well as jobs right across the economy,”
    Looking for any information on where in New Zealand this is being filmed and when. How do you go about applying for a position with this crew?

  2. robin says:

    I wonder if the New Zelanders have realized yet that they have become the “Blue Species” in real time.

  3. Wunza PonAt'ime says:

    California, founder of film, space and then vfx. Now has none. RIP.

  4. Jcoop says:

    I hope the people of New Zealand like their movie. They’re paying for a 1/4th of it. Such bragging rights. It’s a good thing they don’t have anything else to spend the money on.

    To put this in perspective of their budget, New Zealand’s economic growth package calls for an additional 200 million to be spent “over four years, for science, innovation and research.” This the largest part of their economic growth agenda. So you can see how making movies ranks alongside innovation and research.

    I’m not sure weather to laugh or cry. Handing a fat check to a wealthy corporation (and filmmaker) to make a film he was going to make regardless is madness. Sadly, it’s the madness of the moment.

    Jerry Brown, love him or hate, know this. Unfortunately, not playing this game send productions into the hands of every country that thinks its neat to rub elbows with movie stars.

  5. CitizenTM says:

    The incentives have become the frequent flyer miles of the film industry. When everybody offers them the net benefit to those offering them is nil. All the other factors that attract a production to place come back into play.

  6. Hollywood Leaving Hollywood says:

    “The memorandum of understanding… New Zealand will host at least one official red carpet premiere” NZ you should get one since you are funding a large part of the production and you should also get a piece of the box office. Why stop there you might as well get a producing credit too for the money you are spending!

    An internship program is great… but, do not expect your labor force to have a job when your incentives dry up. You are fooling yourself and racing to the bottom while spending your nationals hard earned money to line the pocket of a studio so you can rub shoulders with the famous. It’s cool for a bit until you realize how badly you were used and your countrymen wonder where the jobs are.

  7. jackconner says:

    The first “Avatar” movie was far from perfect, mainly because it cribbed so much from “Dune” and “Dancing with Wolves”, etc., but it was very enjoyable for all that, and extremely well done. I can’t wait for more stories set in that world, especially now that the essentials have been established and we can have more originality.

    Also, very curious what effect Cameron will have on Peter Jackson, and vice versa.

    • John Shea says:

      More ‘DANCES WITH WOLVES’ than ‘DUNE’ I think. Not to mention Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars stories, which James Cameron acknowledged as an influence in the past. I quite enjoyed Disney’s massively expensive and much maligned ‘JOHN CARTER’, as more people would have, I think, if they could figure out what the heck it was about. Cameron added loads of eco-advertising to the same basic formula and EVERYONE saw it! Mary Poppins got it backwards, a spoonful of medicine helps the sugar go down…

  8. Sam says:

    Are they that sure that people even want to see a sequel? Much less three?

  9. Lydia says:

    another reason why California needs to get on the bandwagon and get some of this work back. but also, how greedy of James Cameron – did the first Avatar not make enough money for him to justify making the sequels here???!!!

    • big daddy D says:

      So he should’ve done the other sequels and gave them to the public for free?? That’s an idiotic comment.

      • aaronlegs says:

        No, he’s saying that while a visual effects and production industry here in the U.S is struggling to keep afloat financially, Cameron outsourced hundreds of jobs to New Zealand to save a few bucks.

  10. scottross996 says:

    A Canadian that built his fortune in America with a company founded by a British neocon gangster. As Mr. Zimmerman once said… “money doesn’t talk, it screams”. AVATAR might be an allegory for corporate greed… I’m just not sure what side Mr. Cameron is on?

  11. John Walsh says:

    Who is casting and when is it being cast?

  12. SSpears says:

    Anybody else notice that they misspelled Jon Landau’s name. They spelled it “John.”

  13. I loved the first Avatar film..looking forward to the sequels. Yes…the first film was an allegory to the plight of the native Americans, but so f’in what? The CGI and special effects were AWESOME!! 2.7 BILLION dollars! ‘Nuff said.

  14. pja says:

    there goes those American jobs over a 10% increase in a tax incentive. your a sell out mr Cameron

  15. JD says:

    Yay! Three more of the same movie. Just what we need.

  16. Glenn C. says:

    Never really thought the first one was all that great. Now three more…all for the almighty dollar!

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