Cameron considers Chinese ‘Na’vi’ for Avatar 2 and 3

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Chinese actors playing Na'vi could star in Avatar 2 and 3 as director James Cameron explores the possibility of shooting part of his sci-fi sequels in China writes Adrian Pennington

Speaking to us in Amsterdam, Cameron said: “We had planned to do performance capture in LA – which we still will do – and we were planning live action photography in New Zealand and to do the VFX with Weta [Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based post production facility]. That was the model for the first film and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it". 


“However, within five years China could easily be as big a gross revenue market [for film] as North America and there are very specific economic incentives for having both Chinese content and Chinese co-production. We don’t need Chinese funding for co-production – we are already funded on [Avatar] 2 and 3 – but there might be some percentage in doing a part of the production in China. We are doing the numbers [to see] if it makes sense.”

Last month Cameron’s joint-owned 3D technology firm Cameron Pace Group launched a joint venture with state-owned Tianjin North Film Group and Tianjin High-tech Holding Group in the northern port city of Tianjin. Cameron Pace Group China will take on many activities including some manufacturing of CPG technology, servicing the booming Chinese 3D content business and training camera crew.

Cameron said “For Avatar we can certainly use Chinese actors as performance capture actors — any accent issue is hidden within the Na'vi accent – or Chinese actors who speak English in the film as Chinese Na'vi. We are projecting a future [in Avatar] and if you project that out there is a certain logic to the idea that there would be a number of Chinese among the Earth contingent on Pandora.”


He added: “[The industry] has got to over the chauvinism of thinking through from a US perspective. If you want to make movies for the US, fine. If you want to make movies for the global market, think global.”

On the future of 3D TV, Cameron said no-glasses TV's could significantly boost the 3D's prospects in as little as a year's time.

"The hurdle is not the technology. We have the technology. The biggest problem is one of perception and culture – the perception that it costs double that of 2D. We’ve always said it was a goal to bring costs down to zero. We’re not there yet but we are getting close."

He added: "3D TV’s are flooding into the market but it’s a chicken and egg situation regarding content that compels people to go home and watch it in 3D. Autostereoscopic displays will produce a very, very pronounced change  – we could be a year away from a major expansion in 3D TV".

On the rising interest in super high resolution broadcasts (Super Hi-Vision or Ultra-HD) he said that industry was in danger of being involved in an arms race between U-HD and 3D.

"I wouldn’t want to see the emergence of 3D slowed down by higher resolution," he declared. "When you compare Ultra-HD to 3DTV you are not comparing apples with apples. 3D TV is half-HD compared to 8K at 120fps so you just removed all the motion artifacts with a resolution higher than the human eye can resolve a 2D image".

"3D is more important in the long run. The resolution in the camera will always improve whether we like it or not, but getting the production paradigm down to how you shoot 3D at the source is critical".

Long time James Cameron collaborater Jon Landau recently told MTV that Avatar 4 will possibly be a sequel saying "“Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.  That will complete an arc and if that leads into more, we’ll start, not imitating ‘Star Wars,’ but it’s a logical thing to do because we’ll have completed the thematic arc by the end of three. The only thing left to do is go back to see what it was like on those first expeditions and create some new characters that then become legacy characters in later films. It’s a plan.”