Avatar 2, producer Jon Landau: “We pushed the limits of technology”

There is no doubt that Avatar: The Way of the Water is one of the most anticipated films of the season, if only because it is the first of the four sequels to the film that has grossed more in the history of cinema. To see the new feature film that follows the events of the Sully family, Italian viewers will have to wait until December 14th, but some anticipation on what the public can expect from this new adventure created by the mind of James Cameron gives a preview of the producer Jon Landau in a meeting with the Italian press, in connection from Wellington, New Zealand, where the final touches of the film are still being worked on.

Avatar: the way of water, what we know about the plot

Set more than ten years after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of the Water takes us back to Pandora, following the events of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri and their children), forced to leave their home due to a threat that pursues her. The film tells how far members of this family are willing to go to keep each other safe, about the battles they fight to stay alive and the obstacles they face. “James Cameron always puts universal themes at the center of his works, and which theme is more universal than the family?” explains Jon Landau “In this story the word family is declined not only in the sense of the biological family, but in a more generic sense of belonging to a community. The story of this family is not told only from the point of view of the parents, but also from that of the adolescent children, who must wage their own battle in the battle, in search of their identity and their place in the world ”.

Going forward with some anticipation on the plot, still armored, Landau reveals: “We will see the Sully family forced to leave their home and seek refuge in their clan, which at first certainly does not wait for them with open arms. They are outsiders and must overcome all the difficulties related to that situation: in addition to facing an impending danger, there are children who do not accept to be uprooted from their world, they feel not welcomed by the clan and find themselves fighting to conquer their spaces and find their way into a new world ”.

Avatar 2, all the previews revealed by Jon Landau

The production of this film, which arrives 13 years after the first chapter of the saga, seems to have been particularly complex. For the producer, the biggest challenge was shooting all four sequels together. “It was not easy to make four films at the same time, from all points of view, starting with the writing time. The other big production challenge of this film, on which we were aiming to give our best, was the underwater performance capture. It wasn’t just about shooting scenes where the actors were holding their breath, we used a two million liter tank and worked to best capture the scene that unfolded. Also, compared to the first film, there are a lot more parts in this where CGI blends into the real world, and that was a pretty big challenge too. ”

On the choice to shoot four sequels at the same time, Landau explains: “It was a choice made to make production more efficient, but also considering the fact that many characters are kids and shooting one, two, three, four years apart, we wouldn’t have I could have had characters who kept the same aspect ”. When asked how the relationship with the Studios was for this film, and if it is true that James Cameron’s staff had to work hard to protect certain production choices, Landau explains that he had total freedom. “Actually, as Cameron also explained in an interview, this situation occurred a couple of times when we shot the first Avatar, specifically it was the sequence of Grace’s flight and death. This time we didn’t have any discussion or confrontation, no one suggested we add or remove anything, from this point of view everything went very well ”.

Continuing with the previews, in Avatar 2 we will find Sigourney Weaver, committed to playing three characters in a single scene, and the main one of which is completely unexpected: “Sigourney Weaver plays the part of human Grace, but above all of Kiry, the 14 year old avatar “- reveals Landau -” And it is a part in which she lets herself go to her more playful side, on the other hand, as she said, she would never have imagined finding herself playing the role of a teenager, and instead in this film, thanks to technology, was able to do so ”. The technology and its potential pushed to the maximum are, on the other hand, a trademark of James Cameron, as the producer of Avatar 2 points out: “I believe that James has always used technology to push it to the limit in his cinema, since times of Terminator 2, then with Jurassic Park, with Titanic and then obviously with Avatar. With this new chapter he has pushed the boundaries a little further, and by doing this I think he has paved the way for many other directors ”.

And, speaking of technology, the vision of Avatar: the water way in 3d is a truly engaging experience, can this film bring a renewed interest in this technique that in recent years has been a bit snubbed by the cinema? “I think it’s important to understand that 3d alone isn’t enough to make a great movie. It is a window that expands, enhancing the vision, but if what you see is ugly it remains ugly, if it is a great film it will seem even bigger. I think that the greatest advantage of 3d is that it offers the viewer an immersive experience to be lived exclusively in the room, an experience that cannot be done by staying at home “.

The first Avatar was one of the greatest hits in the history of cinema, but of a cinema that lived in another world. After all the upheavals of recent years, which have also involved cinema and the way we use it, Landau remains optimistic about the future of films in theaters. “The New York Times wrote in an article ‘Now that entertainment can be had at home, movies in theaters will die’, but they wrote it in 1983. I believe that despite all the changes we have seen, the people keep looking for the cinema experience. On the other hand, going to the cinema for those who love movies is like going to a concert for those who love music: listening to it in streaming and attending a concert are two totally different things, so for a film seen at home or in the hall. I believe that if we give people good movies, people will continue to go to the cinema. It is necessary to ensure that the public has a different experience from the one they can have at home, even in consultation with the exhibitors. Great movies and great experience still get people out of the house ”.

Finally, the environmental theme, central to the first Avatar, can only return in the sequels: “The first Avatar begins and ends with Sully opening her eyes. A film cannot make long philosophical speeches, but I really hope that our work will also help the younger generations and the whole audience to open their eyes. Fantasy is used as a metaphor to tell the world we live in, the environmental theme has an echo in every single sequence of the film. Also during the making we tried to do our part with the totally plastic free sets and other energy efficiency measures, because you cannot preach well and scratch badly. One of the main messages of this film is that we all live connected with the environment around us and we must recognize this connection ”.

Meanwhile, waiting to be amazed by Avatar, the way of water, from 22 September we can return to Pandora enjoying the remastered version of the 2009 blockbuster at the cinema.

The trailer

Avatar 2, producer Jon Landau: “We pushed the limits of technology”