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Is Back To Back Filmmaking A Positive Practice?

by Tim Falkenberg.

Wow, that was unexpected. In case you missed it, it was announced that James Cameron would be making not only two Avatar sequels, but three. That’s right, four Avatar movies total, and the final three filmed back-to-back-to-back. And while it’s hard to imagine that these films will lose money (in fact, I’d be willing to bet that the first one comes close to grossing enough to cover production costs of all three), I’m not sure this is a trend Hollywood’s smart to continue.

There’s a notable history of shooting films back to back – Superman and Superman II, Back to the Future Part 2 and Part 3, and Trial of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther all did it, for example. But it’s a trend that seems to have taken off in recent years, beginning with New Line’s gutsy decision to give Peter Jackson more or less all their money to go make The Lord of the Rings back to back to back.

It’s hard to remember now, but that was considered by many a foolishly risky move at the time. J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy tale was considered by many to be unadaptable, unfit for the big screen. And while shooting back to back is generally reserved for sequels (as is the case for the aforementioned Avatar films), it seems to me that the breakout success of The Lord of the Rings has made studios more willing to fork over huge chunks of money for multiple films.

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