It's hard to think of tentpoles releasing a year or two years from now when a juicy franchise like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes out just two Fridays from now. But today brings updates on two highly anticipated tentpoles: Pacific Rim and the Avatar sequels.
Guillermo del Toro, the original director of The Hobbit series before dropping out due to MGM's bankruptcy-related delays, turned his attention to Pacific Rim, an aliens vs. robots sci-fi movie that promises to show off del Toro's skills as a creature creator. Warner Bros. just released a viral teaser that reveals part of the plot in the form of a frantic news broadcast. The poor Golden Gate Bridge is cracked in half by an alien, who is then subdued and placed on a ship in the same manner as the T-Rex in The Lost World. When it comes to the blueprints of the robots, which were also released, I'm not quite as excited. They look like giant Iron Men or Transformers. There's not a lot of originality, at least in their form. How they perform in action may be a different story. The movie comes out next July.
The blue-hued, naturalistic aliens in Avatar will begin their CG creation late this year, according to an interview conducted with writer/director James Cameron in New Zealand, where he's hanging out and finishing up the script for the sequel. Apparently the script for Avatar wasn't finished at the time of production (normally a big no-no), leading to a lot of work for scenes that were later cut. A completed script for Avatar 2 plus working with creatures that have already been created in CG should mean the time from production to screen is shorter, though I wouldn't bet on that. Especially because Cameron imposed a new challenge for the series by setting it underwater, which should multiply the difficulty for both the CG team and the poor humans who have to spend a lot of time in water tanks. Though between Cameron's experience on The Abyss and Titanic, he's at home with the difficult filming conditions. Even with production starting late next year, it's unlikely the movie will release until 2015. By that time, the three-film series of The Hobbit will be done, and audiences will be more than eager to pick up where the 2009 Avatar left off.