One of the most difficult things in creating a story from scratch is knowing where to begin and this case is no different with Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron when he admitted he had scrapped the original sequel script for not reaching his standards in making the sequel ‘unpredictable.’
Speaking with Total Film Magazine, Cameron explains how the first Avatar: The Way of Water story came to be, and how it eventually led to it being recycled into potential Avatar 4 and 5, should The Way of Water prove to be successful. Otherwise, Cameron plans on at least sticking for a trilogy. Read his full quote below:
“What happened was, we were noodling around. I was working with a team of writers. We had a lot of ideas. We kept trying to corral it into a box, and it never quite fit. So at a certain point, I said, ‘I’ll just finish it and see if it’s a movie.’”
It seems likely that this is one of the causes of delay in shooting the sequel, leading it to be delayed for years. Aside from the investment in a high-frame rate projection technology and ensuring its quality before officially releasing it to satisfy fans and the crew, changes were made throughout the progression, which included re-establishing the worldbuilding of Pandora and how its world works.
“I did. It came out, I think, at 130 pages. It was like, ‘Man, this is a great story. This is a hell of a read.’ But it was missing one of those critical elements about sequels, which is that it didn’t go enough into the unexpected. It also didn’t play enough by Avatar rules, which is to connect us to the dream world, that which has a spiritual component that we can’t even quite quantify in words. It ticked every other box, but it didn’t tick that one. And I thought, ‘We shouldn’t make this movie.’ So I set it aside.”