By Robert Niles: Movie blogs this week have been reporting delays on production of director James Cameron’s new Avatar movies, including word that a fourth Avatar might not be in the works at all. The initial report, from IndieWire on Monday, included speculation that the Avatar project for Disney’s Animal Kingdom is running behind schedule, too.
Supposedly Cameron is not the easiest dude to work with and that, when frustrated by Imagineering and what he considers to be their lack of progress, he simply walks away and, say, stashes himself at the bottom of the ocean. That must make for a fractured and unwieldy work process for the Imagineers on the project ? a kind of stop-and-go rhythm that’s harder to wrangle than one of those flying dragons.
Video game site IGN yesterday took that report and ran with it, pushing the Avatar land’s opening well past 2015, due to “creative differences between Cameron and Disney’s Imagineer development team.”
And today, blogger Kevin Yee reads the tea leaves and all but declares the Avatar project dead.
Yee goes on to confirm rumors that Avatar’s been replaced on Disney World’s to-do list by an east coast version of California Adventure’s Cars Land, planned for the space now occupied by Lights, Motors, Action and the Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That confirmation comes just a day after Yee threw a bit of cold water on such speculation, reporting that Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter didn’t want to dupe Cars Land in Florida, which would be enough to kill the project.
Yee’s one of the better reporters out there, so if he says that project’s a “go” now, I’m inclined to believe him. But I can’t help but wonder what could have gotten Lasseter on board with the idea? Then again, if Avatar’s not hitting its deadline (in the best-case scenario), Marvel’s not coming, and Universal’s raising the stakes by opening its version of Transformers next summer (check the blackout dates, folks), perhaps Disney might not have much choice but to greenlight something that’s ready to go.
We do know this: Avatar was slated to go into the space in Animal Kingdom now occupied by Festival of the Lion King. If that show doesn’t close in January to make room for Avatar, as is now planned, we will know for sure that the Avatar project is in trouble. And if Lights, Motors, Action closes instead early next year, we’ll know that Cars Land East likely will happen, too. Keep your eyes open.
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