4 'Avatar' Sequels Written For Laser Projection In Far-Flung Future

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The 'Avatar 2' release date has been pushed to a distant future where Na'vi rule the Earth. 20th Century Fox

We learned this week that Avatar 2 will shoot this fall and all four of the Avatar sequel scripts are complete. But there’s also a scoop for the gadget dorks: Avatar 2 will project with Christie’s Mirage 4KLH 4K 120Hz 3DLP 3D RGB laser projector, with future-branded product features like TruLife™ electronics and Christie Twist™. You haven’t seen a movie until you’ve seen it with Christie Twist. But with Avatar 2 still years from release, who knows what laser-powered monstrosities will project Avatar 3, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5, which are all written and awaiting James Cameron’s directorial attention.

Laser projection, previously used for the Ang Lee movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, ditches the bulb for red, blue and green laser light, pumped through optical cable into a DLP chip. DLP is a popular format for digital projecting; a processor divided into tiny mirrors capable of angling “on” or “off” activate color “pixels” on the screen. While the image isn’t revolutionary — 4K resolution is already approaching a screening standard — the laser projectors that will screen Avatar 2 can playback at 120 frames per second, more than doubling the 48 fps High Frame Rate (HFR) projection that impressed no one in The Hobbit movies.

But mostly, laser projection will come to be preferred because it’s very bright and very stable, operating far longer than bulb projection, without the same warmup and cooldown periods. Its advantages are industry advantages, with consumer advantages of questionable desirability. But like with Christopher Nolan or Quentin Tarantino’s projection obsessiveness, promoting 70 mm projection for Interstellar and The Hateful Eight, it’s become part of a director’s reputational seriousness to fixate on how their movies are screened. Special presentations and carefully-calibrated images and sound can be big incentives for event films, but there’s also an element of marketing to projector announcements years in advance of a movie’s release date — James Cameron’s notorious precision and cutting-edge tech has become just as important to the Avatar sequel hype machine as the actual content of the movie.

Avatar ’s laser projection plans will all be for naught if those scripts suck. The actual fate of a movie never comes down to its projector. Sigourney Weaver, who told The Hollywood Reporter that Avatar 2 would begin filming this fall, says they’re worth the wait. “I’m telling you, these scripts are so amazing, I’m not worried about [disappointing fans] at all,” Weaver said to THR. “Am I worried about how we’re going to bring them to life? Yes, because they’re so ambitious. They’re so worth it. They're well worth waiting for. I’m not worried about that at all. We’re trying to get it done as quickly as possible.”

While the Avatar sequels don’t have any release dates set, we’re likely to get one per year, with release dates in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. And who’s going to care about laser projection in 2022, when all our phones, books, food and fingernails will be made of lasers? All that matters is whether or not Cameron can still write something better than Dances with Wolves in space.

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