It's true! If you thought James Cameron might ever make another narrative film that wasn't about giant alien cats, THINK AGAIN.
I’m in the Avatar business. Period. That’s it. I’m making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, maybe Avatar 4, and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts. And that all sounds I suppose a little bit restricted, but the point is I think within the Avatar landscape I can say everything I need to say that I think needs to be said, in terms of the state of the world and what I think we need to be doing about it.
That's via an interview in the New York Times, which also touches on the fact that the Avatar sequels might turn to China for some of their funding, like Iron Man 3 and Rian Johnson's Looper. China's a massive market that's opening up to allow more American films to play there, and they're willing to invest in 'em too—so long as they add Chinese characters and portray China in a positive light. Cameron acknowledges how massive China is becoming as a both a film consumer and funder—
It’s a major market. Possibly within this time scope of these two [Avatar] films, certainly by the time of the third film, it may rival the U.S. domestic market, if not surpass it. And there are economic advantages with respect to the percentage of gross revenue that flows back. So that needs to be weighed off against what it would cost us to set up our capability here.
—but blows off the idea that Chinese censorship would be problematic:
Did you talk to other filmmakers—your peers—about Chinese censorship?
No. I’m not interested in their reality. My reality is that I’ve made two films in the last 15 years that both have been resounding successes here, and this is an important market for me. And so I’m going to do what’s necessary to continue having this be an important market for my films.
A few weeks ago I wrote this thing for the Stranger in which I noted, "The Terminator is James Cameron ominously sharpening a machete while silently glaring at you; Terminator 2 is James Cameron drinking too many Capri Suns and getting the giggles and now he won't stop sticking his hand in his armpit to make fart noises." That's a bit glib, but the point remains: Like a lot of creators, I think James Cameron's better when he's working under constraints. Realistically, the dude's never going to face actual financial constraints ever, ever again (reminder: the first Terminator was made for a mere $6.5 million), so maybe the best we can hope for in terms of creative challenges is how hard Cameron's going to have to work to explain why people on Pandora keep slipping into Chinese slang like a Firefly/ThunderCats mashup.
P.S. For the record, I fucking hate that this blog post just made me look up how to correctly capitalize motherfucking "ThunderCats."