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James Cameron Says His Avatar Sequels Are Sure To Fail Without An Impossible-To-Describe Element

James Cameron has a very specific requirement for his slew of "Avatar" sequels. 

The maverick writer and director has been helming blockbusters for four decades, treating audiences to visual spectacles with projects like "Terminator" and "Titanic," but those cinematic accomplishments aren't enough. Now, after 13 excruciating years, the Canadian auteur is on track to finally deliver "The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel to his 2009 behemoth "Avatar," which holds the coveted title of being the highest-grossing film of all time (via The Numbers). What took Cameron over a decade?

With an intention to film the sequel's motion capture sequences underwater, Cameron and his crew went to great lengths to realize that vision, creating new technology along the way (via IndieWire). Beyond visuals, Cameron felt the need to nail the direction of the sequel. After all,"The Way of Water" isn't just a passion project — it's a $400 million investment that hopefully leads to more sequels (via The Hollywood Reporter). Speaking to Total Film magazine about his high expectations for the sequel, Cameron revealed that a 130 page rough draft was scrapped because it wasn't "unexpected" enough, among other things. 

The director has dedicated a large portion of his life to "Avatar" and already has plans for several more sequels, should "The Way of Water" succeed. But failure is on Cameron's mind, as he previously revealed to GQ that the film would need to make $2 billion to break even. Even if the second outing to Pandora is a smash hit, future sequels still need to meet certain requirements. One of Hollywood's most notorious perfectionists, Cameron has revealed exactly what his "Avatar" sequels need to be not deemed failures. 

Cameron says the Avatar sequels need to be spiritual to succeed

While doing press rounds for "The Way of Water," James Cameron opened up to ScreenRant about how his initial scrapped script led to him hiring a dream team of writers. Before he assembled his writers room, Cameron got to work to bring the creatives up to speed, giving them further insight into the world of Pandora. "I set down and just made a bunch of notes for six months," he said. "Literally, just every day sitting at my desk, talking about the world, the characters, trying to fill in what happened the day after Jake woke up in a Na'vi body, and just was carrying the story forward."

Arriving to the writers room with 800 pages of (single spaced) notes, Cameron implored the creatives to "do [their] homework." The "Aliens" director then went on to detail how he and the writers attempted to figure out the essence of the first film, and what made it such a success.

"It had to hit the heart, had to hit the mind, had to hit the imagination, and it had to hit something even deeper, which we had a hard time quantifying," he said. By all accounts, "Avatar" was filled with heart, stimulating visuals, and was ripe with imagination. But there's something more that the sequels need. "Something you could call spiritual, or you could call subconscious," Cameron said. "Some kind of connection that you can't even really describe in words. And I said, 'If we can't do that again, then we are going to fail.'" 

Will he fail? Audiences will found when "Avatar: The Way of Water" washes into cinemas on December 16, 2022.