Avatar cast and crew returning to New Zealand to resume filming

The cast and crew of James Cameron’s Avatar sequels are heading back to New Zealand to resume filming.Production on the movies, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, was shut down indefinitely in March due to the ongoing coronavi…

The cast and crew of James Cameron’s Avatar sequels are heading back to New Zealand to resume filming.

Production on the movies, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, was shut down indefinitely in March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And as producer Jon Landau took to social media on Thursday to reveal a new image of water vessels used in the movie, he confirmed that filming would begin again later this month.

“Our Avatar sets are ready – and we couldn’t be more excited to be headed back to New Zealand next week,” he wrote. “Check out the Matador, a high-speed forward command vessel (bottom) and the Picador jetboat (top) – can’t wait to share more.”

The Avatar sequels will be the first major films to resume production after almost all Hollywood movies were shut down in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which has infected more than five million people worldwide since the outbreak began in December.

Filming the latest instalments in the sci-fi fantasy drama had alternated between studios in Auckland and Wellington, according to editors at Variety.

Staff at visual effects firm Weta Digital, which is based in Wellington, continued to work on the sequels during the shutdown.

Avatar 2, which also features Kate Winslet, Vin Diesel, David Thewlis, and Michelle Yeoh, is due to be released in December 2021, with three more sequels slated to hit cinemas in 2023, 2025, and 2027.

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James Cameron remains hopeful Avatar 2 will be released in December 2021

James Cameron is hopeful Avatar 2 will be ready for release in December 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic delaying production. The Terminator director has been working on follow-ups to the 2009 sci-fi movie for the past few years and completed the…

James Cameron is hopeful Avatar 2 will be ready for release in December 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic delaying production.

The Terminator director has been working on follow-ups to the 2009 sci-fi movie for the past few years and completed the motion capture portion of production on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 last year. He was about to fly to New Zealand to shoot the live-action scenes when the coronavirus pandemic hit and production was shut down.

However, despite the setback, Cameron is optimistic he can still make the film’s scheduled cinema release of 17 December 2021.

“It’s putting a major crimp in our stride here,” he told Empire magazine. “I want to get back to work on Avatar, which right now we’re not allowed to do under state emergency laws or rules. So, it’s all on hold right now. We were about to shoot down in New Zealand, so that got pushed. We’re trying to get back to it as quick as we can.

“On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing. There’s a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still (release it on schedule). So that’s good news.”

Cameron added that digital effects teams are continuing to work on the feature from home, while he has been able to do some editing.

Fortunately for the filmmaker, officials at the New Zealand Film Commission recently announced that productions in the country would be allowed to start filming again this month given the reduced spread of Covid-19.

Original Avatar stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver are all set to return for the sequel, while new additions include Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel.

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James Cameron suspends production on Avatar sequels

James Cameron has suspended production on his Avatar sequels in New Zealand.The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Oscar-winning director to halt filming indefinitely, producer Jon Landau confirmed to the New Zealand Herald.Landau said they were d…

James Cameron has suspended production on his Avatar sequels in New Zealand.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Oscar-winning director to halt filming indefinitely, producer Jon Landau confirmed to the New Zealand Herald.

Landau said they were due to shoot footage for the four sequels to the 2009 sci-fi movie at Stone Street Studios in the city of Wellington next month, but have decided to stay in Los Angeles instead.

“We’ve delayed it. We had plans to come down Friday night with a group of people and start back up, and we made the decision to hold off and continue working here (in Los Angeles), and come down there a little bit later than we’d planned,” Landau said.

“We’re in the midst of a global crisis and this is not about the film industry. I think everybody needs to do now whatever we can do, as we say here, to flatten the curve.”

Staff at visual effects firm Weta Digital, which is based in Wellington, will continue to work on the sequels during the shutdown.

It’s not yet known when filming will start up again, but Landau insisted he and Cameron are assessing the production schedule “everyday, because that’s how quickly things change.”

“We try and monitor all this and look at things and think about what is in the best interest of our crew. I call it our Avatar family. That is really paramount to us above anything,” he explained.

Avatar 2, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, and Sigourney Weaver, is due to be released in December 2021, with three more sequels slated to hit cinemas in 2023, 2025, and 2027.

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Matt Damon turned down $250 million Avatar role

Matt Damon is still wrestling with his decision not to accept a role in Avatar, one of the highest-grossing films of all time.The Oscar winner has revealed he was approached by Titanic filmmaker James Cameron and asked to lead the 2009 blockbuster, but…

Matt Damon is still wrestling with his decision not to accept a role in Avatar, one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

The Oscar winner has revealed he was approached by Titanic filmmaker James Cameron and asked to lead the 2009 blockbuster, but he said no.

Damon was also offered a 10 ten per cent cut of the film’s gross, which would have netted him roughly $250 million (£200 million).

“Jim Cameron offered me Avatar,” Damon told GQ magazine. “And when he offered it to me, he goes, ‘Now, listen. I don’t need anybody. I don’t need a name for this, a named actor. If you don’t take this, I’m gonna find an unknown actor and give it to him, because the movie doesn’t really need you. But if you take the part, I’ll give you 10 per cent of (profits).

“I told (pal) John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land… and he goes, ‘If you had done that movie, nothing in your life would be different. Nothing in your life would be different at all. Except that, right now, we would be having this conversation in space’… I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually.”

Damon explained that he chose to stick with his commitment to The Bourne Identity franchise instead of shooting Avatar, and still regrets not having the chance to collaborate with the iconic director.

“It would have caused a problem for Paul Greengrass and for all my friends on The Bourne Ultimatum, so I couldn’t do it,” he added. “Cameron said to me…, ‘Well, you know, I’ve only made six movies’. I didn’t realise that. He works so infrequently, but his movies, you know all of them. So it feels like he’s made more than he has. I realised, in having to say no, that I was probably passing on the chance to ever work with him. So that sucked and that’s still brutal. But my kids are all eating. I’m doing OK.”

The lead role in the fantasy epic ultimately went to Australian actor Sam Worthington.

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James Cameron praises Marvel after Avengers: Endgame becomes biggest movie of all time

James Cameron has congratulated Marvel bosses for beating his movie Avatar’s box office record with Avengers: Endgame. Over the weekend, it was confirmed that the Marvel superhero epic, starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans, had …

James Cameron has congratulated Marvel bosses for beating his movie Avatar’s box office record with Avengers: Endgame.

Over the weekend, it was confirmed that the Marvel superhero epic, starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans, had beaten Cameron’s 2009 movie to become the highest-grossing of all time, making more than Avatar’s $2.78 billion global box office takings in just 13 weeks.

Showing he was a good sport about his 10-year reign on top coming to an end, Cameron offered up his congratulations via Avatar’s official Twitter account on Monday.

“Oel ngati kameie (I see you), I see you Marvel – Congratulations to Avengers Endgame on becoming the new box-office King,” the message read, quoting the language used by Avatar characters, the Na’vi – the blue-skinned species who inhabit the fictional world of Pandora.

The message was accompanied by an image showing Iron Man surrounded by woodsprites, the jellyfish-looking seeds from the Tree of Souls of Pandora. The seeds are sacred spirits which are planted with the body of a deceased Na’vi, which is fitting as Iron Man / Tony Stark sacrificed himself to beat Thanos and his army at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame.

Cameron previously saluted Marvel bosses for Endgame’s box office performance back in May, when it beat his 1997 disaster movie Titanic’s record to become the second highest-grossing movie ever.

“An iceberg sank the real Titanic,” he wrote. “It took the Avengers to sink my Titanic. Everyone here at (Cameron’s production company) Lightstorm Entertainment salutes your amazing achievement. You’ve down that the movie industry is not only alive and well. It’s bigger than ever!”

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Avengers: Endgame passes Avatar to become biggest film of all time

Avengers: Endgame has topped Avatar to become the highest-grossing film of all time.Marvel boss Kevin Feige made the news official at the studio’s Comic-Con panel in San Diego, California on Saturday, announcing the blockbuster would pass Avatar’s $2.7…

Avengers: Endgame has topped Avatar to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

Marvel boss Kevin Feige made the news official at the studio’s Comic-Con panel in San Diego, California on Saturday, announcing the blockbuster would pass Avatar’s $2.78 billion global box office mark over the weekend, ending the James Cameron-directed movie’s nine-year reign.

“Thanks to you, Avengers: Endgame is the biggest film of all-time,” Feige told fans in Comic-Con’s fabled Hall H.

While Avengers: Endgame co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo took to Twitter to share a similar sentiment.

“To the greatest fans in the universe, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you…,” they commented.

Avengers: Endgame, featuring an ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Brie Larson, follows the surviving members of the Avengers and their allies as they attempt to reverse the damage caused by Thanos, as played by Josh Brolin, in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.

The blockbuster has passed Avatar’s record in just 13 weeks, and in a statement, Alan Horn, co-chairman and chief creative officer of Marvel’s parent company, The Walt Disney Studios, praised the cast and crew for their achievements.

“A huge congratulations to the Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios teams, and thank you to the fans around the world who lifted Avengers: Endgame to these historic heights,” he commented. “Of course, even with the passage of a decade, the impact of James Cameron’s Avatar remains as powerful as ever, and the astonishing achievements of both of these films are ongoing proof of the power of movies to move people and bring them together in a shared experience. The talented filmmakers behind these worlds have much more in store, and we look forward to the future of both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and (Avatar’s setting) Pandora.”

Bosses at Disney are also celebrating another record-breaking weekend in North America, as The Lion King has roared to the top of the box office to become the biggest July opening of all time.

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Zoe Saldana to star in artist husband’s directorial debut

Zoe Saldana is to lead the cast of her artist husband Marco Perego’s feature film directorial debut.The Guardians of the Galaxy star has signed on for Keyhole Garden, about a man and woman whose romance is tested by “the divisiveness of life on America…

Zoe Saldana is to lead the cast of her artist husband Marco Perego’s feature film directorial debut.

The Guardians of the Galaxy star has signed on for Keyhole Garden, about a man and woman whose romance is tested by “the divisiveness of life on America’s southern border,” reports Variety.

The story will be told through three separate but connected narratives; a boy trying to save his undocumented friend from deportation, an immigration agent unintentionally dooming an ex, and a drug trafficker embarking on his final mission.

Perego co-wrote the script with Rick Rapoza and will also serve as a producer on the project. Production is set to begin in August.

Although Keyhole Garden marks Perego’s first time behind the camera, he has had some experience when it comes to producing. He worked on soccer documentary Black and White Stripes: The Juventus Story, and also co-produced short drama Me + Her.

And it seems he now has a taste for Hollywood, with his second directing job already lined up. The 40-year-old will direct and co-write upcoming short Burn to Shine.

Meanwhile, Saldana has her plate full with the next four Avatar instalments, which are currently in the post-production stage. The 40-year-old was last seen as Na’vi princess Neytiri in James Cameron’s box office breaking Avatar in 2009.

It’s also thought she’ll be back as Lieutenant Uhura in the next Star Trek film.

Saldana and Perego wed in 2013 and are parents to three sons; twins Cy and Bowie, four, and two-year-old Zen.

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Gambit movie pulled from release schedule

Disney executives have seemingly shelved the Gambit movie, after failing to mention the title in the latest Disney-Fox release schedule.Bosses from the two studios, which merged earlier this year after Disney acquired Fox, announced the upcoming theatr…

Disney executives have seemingly shelved the Gambit movie, after failing to mention the title in the latest Disney-Fox release schedule.

Bosses from the two studios, which merged earlier this year after Disney acquired Fox, announced the upcoming theatrical releases for the next few years on Tuesday.

While fans were excited at getting Star Wars, Avatar and Marvel updates, one film was noticeably absent from the announcement – Gambit.

Channing Tatum has been attached to play the Marvel Comics character since 2014, and over the years has frequently spoken about the film. However, a director has been harder to find, with Rupert Wyatt, Doug Liman, and Gore Verbinski all drafted in to take the helm, before departing the project.

The character has so far only made one appearance in the X-Men universe, popping up in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, though it was Taylor Kitsch, not Channing, playing the part.

It was last slated for release in March 2020, but Gambit’s future was thrown into turmoil during Disney the Fox merger.

In the wake of the deal being completed, Gambit producer Simon Kinberg, the director behind upcoming X-Men instalment Dark Phoenix, shared his hope that the film would still be going ahead.

“I love the idea of Channing playing Gambit,” he said in March. “I think we have a great script for it and I think it’s a role he was born to play. It’s a character I grew up loving and I know the fans love. So I suspect, I hope it will happen.”

Among the movies that got a release date are three as-yet-untitled Star Wars films, which will hit cinemas on 16 December 2022; 20 December 2024; and 18 December 2026, and the long-awaited Avatar follow-ups, the first of which arrives later than expected on 17 December 2021. The James Cameron-directed features will then drop over the holiday period every other year until 2027.

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Disney bosses committed to three more Star Wars films

Disney bosses are planning another three-film dip into George Lucas’ Star Wars universe. Studio officials have just released information about their future blockbusters and the slate includes another Star Wars trilogy, which will follow J.J. Abrams’ T…

Disney bosses are planning another three-film dip into George Lucas’ Star Wars universe.

Studio officials have just released information about their future blockbusters and the slate includes another Star Wars trilogy, which will follow J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker. The latest Star Wars film, set for release later this year (19), wraps up the third trilogy of the franchise, which began in 1977 with A New Hope.

The new Star Wars films, which will be spread out over several years and conclude in 2026, remain untitled and there have been no details released about plot and characters.

Abrams revealed his upcoming Star Wars film, which will hit cinemas on 20 December, will be titled The Rise of Skywalker at a fan convention in Chicago, Illinois last month (Apr19).

Meanwhile, the release of the new Fox-Disney slate will dishearten Avatar fans as James Cameron’s much-anticipated sequel to his 2009 movie has been pushed back a year and will now open in cinemas in December, 2021.

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story adaptation will debut on 18 December, 2020, while Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra and Kenneth Branagh’s Artemis Fowl now have set launch dates after both being pushed back.

Ad Astra, in which Pitt plays an astronaut searching for his missing father, will now open on 20 September (19) and Disney’s adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s novel Artemis Fowl will debut on 29 May, 2020.

There are also set dates for Ford V. Ferrari (15Nov19) and Disney’s Maleficent sequel, Mistress of Evil (Halloween week, 2019).

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Avengers: Endgame becomes second biggest movie of all time

Avengers: Endgame has continued to smash box office records worldwide by overtaking Titanic to become the second highest-grossing movie in cinema history. The all-star superhero blockbuster, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, cracked the $2 billion mi…

Avengers: Endgame has continued to smash box office records worldwide by overtaking Titanic to become the second highest-grossing movie in cinema history.

The all-star superhero blockbuster, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, cracked the $2 billion milestone on Saturday (04May19), and continued to sail past James Cameron’s 1997 disaster epic by the end of the weekend, beating Titanic’s $2.187 billion gross by $1.2 million (£912,500).

Director Cameron still holds the top spot on the all-time list with Avatar’s $2.78 billion, but Endgame is widely expected to crush that figure in the near future.

The massive global take not only makes Endgame the fifth film ever to hit $2 billion – it’s also achieved the feat in the shortest amount of time with 11 days, compared to Avatar’s 47 days back in 2009.

The popularity of the Marvel movie easily helped it hold on to the number one spot on the North American box office chart, generating another $145 million (£110.2 million) in its second weekend on release.

Psychological thriller The Intruder, starring Dennis Quaid, claims a distant second place with an $11 million (£8.4 million) debut, while Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen’s romantic comedy, Long Shot, lands at three with a $10 million (£7.6 million) opening.

The animated UglyDolls, which features the voices of Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, and Nick Jonas, fell short of expectations with an $8.5 million (£6.5 million) launch, while Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel climbed to fifth place with an extra $4.3 million (£3.3 million) in its ninth weekend in theatres, likely given a boost by her character’s involvement in Endgame.

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