Billions of dollars are riding on the effort. The effects-heavy sequels will be expensive: Mr. Cameron has vaguely said their combined production cost would be less than $1 billion, though the movies cannot be budgeted until they are written.But in Mr. Cameron, the project is being led by a director who helped to redefine his industry with “The Terminator,” “Titanic” and the immersive 3-D science fiction spectacle “Avatar.”“Jim first and foremost in life is an explorer, and it’s what he does in his movies,” said Jon Landau, Mr. Cameron’s business partner. Speaking by telephone recently, Mr. Landau described what he said had been a yearslong effort to conceptualize an entire “Avatar” universe that would be realized over 20 years or more in various media, some of which have yet to be invented.“We decided to build out the breadth of our world — whether or not it’s in one of the films — now,” he said.“This is not about any one medium,” Mr. Landau added, referring to the elaborate ideas being developed by Mr. Cameron, along with a team of four screenwriters, and by a novelist, Steven Gould.Mr. Gould, known especially for the science fiction book “Jumper,” is weaving those ideas into novels that are meant to read as if they had inspired, rather than were spun off from, “Avatar.”
Will this be a new kind of world-scale myth-making? "World-scale" in two senses: 1) the scope of the fictional universe and 2) it's reach across the earth. On earth, where will the climate debate BE in 20 years and how will that affect this franchise? For that matter, does this franchise have the power to affect debate on the environment?