Though production on the upcoming Avatar sequels has been suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the official Twitter account for the film is still offering a look behind the scenes. Yesterday two new photos from the set of the movies was released online showing off how filmmaker Jim Cameron works with the actors on the set's massive tanks that are being used for the film's many underwater scenes (all of which are still being used for performance capture). You can check out the two photos below and feel free to speculate in the comments about...well what the heck is even going on.
For those curious about the purpose of the "floating balls" on the surface, an inquiring fan asked why they were used rather than an opaque surface. The official Avatar account replied, revealing that "the floating balls allow the actors to resurface safely when needed," something that a sheet covering the surface of the tank wouldn't allow.
From the set of the sequels: @JimCameron directing the actors before they dive underwater for performance capture.
Fun fact: That layer of white on the water's surface is comprised of floating balls that prevent lights from interfering with filming underwater. pic.twitter.com/dOBwS6qOXF— Avatar (@officialavatar) May 6, 2020
Producer Jon Landau confirmed in mid-March that production on the movies had been shut down, telling The New Zealand Herald, “We’ve delayed it. We had plans to come down Friday night with a group of people and start back up and we made the decision to hold off and continue working here [Los Angeles], and come down there a little bit later than we’d planned."
It was confirmed as well that though filming has been paused, VFX studio Weta will continue to work on the digital side of the films. Cameron, Landau, and their team have been working on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 simultaneously, with both films expected to wrap filming in the spring. Last year, Disney put four Avatar movies on its release schedule, with the first opening in 2021 and the others following in two-year intervals after that. No word yet on if and how this delay will affect Disney's plans for the franchise.
Last year saw Cameron's 2009 film finally be bested at the global box office, being dethroned as the highest grossing movie of all time by Avengers: Endgame. Despite the uphill battle the sequel faces to re-gain the title, star Stephen Lang previously said he "expects" Avatar 2 to sit at the top once it debuts. To do so, Avatar 2 would need to gross at least $2,797,800,565 when it hits theaters next December, IF it hits theaters next December.