James Cameron Spent an Entire Year Writing an ‘Avatar 2’ Script, and Then He Threw It Out: It Wasn’t ‘Subconscious’ Enough

James Cameron revealed to The Times UK that before Avatar: The Way of Water there was a full script for Avatar 2 that was written and then thrown in the trash. It turns out that at least a full year of the 13-year gap between 2009's "Avatar" and 2022's "The Way of Water" was dedicated to a screenplay that will never see the light of day.
"When I sat down with my writers to start Avatar 2, I said we can't do the next one until we understand why the first one did so well," Cameron said. "We need to crack the code of what the hell happened."
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Cameron and his team concluded, “All films work on different levels. The first is the surface, which is character, problem, and solution. The second is thematic. What is the film trying to say? But "Avatar" also works on a third level, the subconscious. I wrote an entire script for the sequel, read it and realized it didn't get to level three. Boom. Start all over. That took a year.”
During an appearance on "The Marianne Williamson Podcast" last year, Cameron elaborated on this third layer, which he believes allowed "Avatar" to become the highest-grossing film of all time at the global box office.
"There was also a tertiary level ... there was a dreamy sense of longing to be there, to be in this space, to be in a safe place and where you wanted to be," Cameron said. "Whether it was flying, that feeling of freedom and serenity, or if it's in the forest where you can smell the earth. It was a sensory thing that communicated on such a deep level. That was the spirituality of the first film.”
Cameron revealed in the same interview that he nearly fired his "Avatar" sequel writers because they were initially so determined to create new stories rather than discovering the DNA that made the first film a record-breaking one.
"As I sat down to write the sequels, I knew it would be three then, and eventually it was four. I put together a group of writers and said, 'I don't want to hear anyone's new ideas or anyone's pitch until we've spent some time figuring out what worked on the first film, what connected and why it worked' ' Camerons said. “They always wanted to talk about the new stories. I said, "We're not doing that yet." Eventually I had to threaten to fire them all for doing what writers do, which is trying to make up new stories. I said, 'We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.'”
Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters on December 16th.
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