Earlier this week, the film community was shocked when director James "I'm the King of the World" Cameron announced he'll follow up box-office-busting Avatar with two sequels in 2014 and 2015. An Avatar trilogy may seem to be a license to print money (see Peter Jackson and his hobbits), but we are skeptical. The first film was such a cinematic game changer that anything less than innovating will be a disappointment. Therefore, we're reaching out directly to Mr. James Cameron, who we have on good authority is an avid Cultist reader. James, follow our suggestions and there's no way your Avatar sequels won't trump the original.
Face facts, James Cameron: the one aspect the first Avatar was lacking was in the story department. You wanted a blockbuster action epic to be paired with an allegory for our deteriorating environment and the Iraqi War. That's a bit of a downer, especially for conservatives. You're going to have to change it up for the sequels--by 2014 the environment will be a lost cause and the US military will have shifted its focus from the Middle East to Canada, whom we'll battle with over Justin Beiber's citizenship. You can keep the whole human versus Na'vi angle. But instead of destroying a unique ecosystem, why not have the humans threaten to demolish a Rec center on Pandora and replace it with a country club? Not only do you get turmoil, but you also get to make the climax of the film a dance-off between the two warring factions. Who wins? The audience.
We don't remember much about the soundtrack. It was probably a big orchestral score that goes with big action set pieces--a lot of drums. But for the sequels we suggest doing what most critically acclaimed films do and just grab a bunch of songs from the pop charts. For good measure, throw in a sleepover scene with Na'vi youths bonding as they sing a Motown classics into a hairbrush microphone. Of critical importance are the closing credits, where you must find a rapper to do a rap summary of the film. Busta Rhymes did it in The Grinch and LL Cool J did it for Deep Blue Sea. We suggest you get the Black Eyed Peas. But don't let them have all the fun, feel free to spit a few bars of your own. It's time for you to get that Grammy you richly deserve.
Ok, so you had to cast a bunch of unknowns for the first film, we get it. Big stars would have pulled away from the technological spectacle. But if you want to top the original Avatar, you can't rest on Sigourney Weaver alone. And that means cameos. Who doesn't like it when random stars come crashing into a movie, breaking up the continuity and logic? We suggest you take a page from The Hangover's notebook and use cameos to rehabilitate maligned celebrities. And no celebrity will need it more when the movies come out than Mike 'The "Situation" Sorentino, who will no longer be remembered for Jersey Shore but rather wrecking Jersey's economy upon being elected Governor in 2012. Have "The Situation" pop up in the third act, turn to the camera and say "This Situation is about to get Avatarded in here!". ('This Situation is about to get Avatarded in here!' should also be incorporated into the Black Eyed Peas song).
Conventional wisdom says you call the films Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, but the franchise is anything but conventional. Since everybody will see these, why not cash in with corporate branding? Putting Axe Body Spray's Avatar 2 The Limit on a marquee will intrigue audiences, who will wonder "what is 'the limit'?" and "which scent of Axe best reflects my lifestyle?" You can practically hear the ka-ching! For the third film we suggest taking a page from television's rule book and presenting the movie as a spin off. Don't be surprised when Avatar: Special Victim's Unit breaks all box office records. No need to thank us, Mr. Cameron. Just keep on reading the blog. And maybe give us a ride in one of your awesome submarines.