James Cameron told journalists Saturday that his four planned Avatar sequels are at heart a “generational family saga” and compared the films to The Godfather. The writer-director was speaking at his production company in Manhattan Beach, California in the course of a press event to promote the filmmaker’s new AMC documentary show, AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, which premieres April 30.
“I found myself as a father of five, starting to think about what would an Avatar story be like if it was a family drama, if it was The Godfather,” said Cameron. “Obviously very different genre, very different genre, but I got intrigued by that idea. So, that’s really what it is. It’s a generational family saga. And that’s very different from the first film. Now, it’s the same type of setting, and there’s the same respect for the shock of the new, that we want to show you things that not only you haven’t seen, but haven’t imagined. I think that’s absolutely critical to it. But the story’s very different. It’s a continuation of the same characters, but what happen when warriors that are willing to go on suicide charges, and leap off cliffs on to the back of big orange toruks, 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. So, it’s interesting, but it makes sense to me. Everybody’s either a parent, or they had parents at the very least, and if you look at the big successful franchises now, they’re pretty much uninterested in that.”
Speaking of non-Avatar franchises, Cameron also expressed weariness with the amount of superhero films being released.
“I’m hoping we’re going to start getting Avenger fatigue,” he said. “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, Come on, guys, there are other stories to tell besides, you know, hypogonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process.”
James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction is a six-part show in which the Terminator and Titanic director discusses the genre with several of his peers, including Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and George Lucas, whose arm Cameron had to personally twist to get in front of the camera.
“I had to talk George into doing it,” said the filmmaker. “He said, ‘I don’t do stuff like this.’ I said, ‘I know, I know. But if you’re going to do stuff like this, you should do this one, because you’ve defined a certain genre of pop culture-science fiction, you created it. You know, it sprang from your forehead. Were all living in the after-shocks of that now, even forty years later.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to talk about it to somebody. George, you’ve just got to talk to somebody. So, he finally said, ‘Yes,’ and he honored that, because when he finally showed up, I mean, he talked for, like, three hours.”
Watch a trailer for James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction above and see a clip of Cameron speaking with Spielberg at the top of this post.