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    19 BTS Facts About “Avatar: The Way Of Water”

    Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during the making of this.

    After 13 years, we finally have a sequel to James Cameron’s epic sci-fi film, with Avatar: The Way of Water.

    Spoiler alert: I enjoyed every minute of the sequel.

    For a film of epic proportions, I had to know more about the behind-the-scenes process for all of us film nerds out there. So, I bring to you, 19 of my favorite BTS facts about the new film…

    1. The film’s budget is a whopping amount.

    Beach island with Na'vi people in Avatar 2

    2. Everything the animated characters do on screen, the actors played out in real life.

    View this video on YouTube

    Film Is Now / Lightstorm Entertainment / Via

    Sounds simple, I know, but hear me out. 

    One of the key differences between Avatar: The Way of Water and some other films that use CGI characters is that all of the actors really did act out their scenes, and advanced motion capture technology meant that their eyes, facial expressions, emotions, and movements are preserved and translated into the CGI character. 

    To compare, one example of a film that didn’t do this was Venom, as Tom Hardy previously explained that motion capture wasn’t used, leaving us to understand that Venom and all of his movements and expressions were brought to life by the digital animators (which is still amazing, by the way).

    I don’t know about you, but I think that’s one of the main reasons why Avatar: The Way of Water is able to convey so much emotion. For a fictional out-of-this world planet and characters, it feels very human, and if you watch the incredible BTS clip above, you get to see side by side how the actors work as their characters are brought to life in the digital world.

    3. And, the actors' skills were put to the test even more with Cameron opting for wet-for-wet photography.

    Avatar 2 cast and crew filming in the water

    4. You guessed it, the underwater tanks were specifically created for the film.

    Part of the set for Avatar 2

    5. Even the epic finale fight scene was acted out, UNDERWATER.

    View this video on YouTube

    Movie VFX / Lightstorm Entertainment / Via

    Plot spoiler alert ahead.

    Toward the end of the film, there is a huge and seriously long-winded fight scene between Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Quaritch (Stephen Lang). As the sequence played out, I was sucked into believing that there really were lives at stake!

    Then, I got home and watched some BTS footage, and now, I know why. … The sequence really was filmed underwater. 

    As you can see in the underwater featurette video, the stunt doubles play out the fight in what I would say is a massively terrifying situation. Plus, when talking about acting the fight out with Lang, Worthington said that it did have its risks for a few reasons. First of all, when he grabs Lang in a chokehold, he said that the realism “that you’re trying to get across means he could die,” and the communication element goes out of the window because you just can’t talk. Luckily, for the cast, Worthington said that you just have to rely on the safety people and the director watching it on the screens, as well as relying on each other…but the breath hold technique does kind of disappear as trusting it becomes easy. (For someone who can’t hold their breath for longer than a minute, this makes me feel uneasy!)

    Hats off to both the actors and stunt people for virtually risking their lives for us to be entertained! It definitely paid off!

    6. The cast and crew logged over 200,000 free dive hours.

    Motion capture filming underwater for Avatar 2

    7. Kate Winslet smashed Tom Cruise’s breath hold record.

    View this video on YouTube

    Pratyush Barik / Lightstorm Entertainment / Via

    In Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation Tom Cruise managed to hold his breath for just over 6 minutes. Crazy, right? Well, he’s now been knocked off the top spot thanks to Kate Winslet. Her role and training for Avatar saw her successfully beat her own record (and Tom’s) by holding her breath for 7 minutes and 14 seconds.

    8. James Cameron opted for 3D cameras over converting the movie to 3D.

    Tsireya Avatar 2 character stepping out of the water

    9. 57 new species of sea creatures were created for the film.

    Kiri Avatar 2 character interacting with an underwater creature

    10. The Na’vi costumes were made in real life first.

    Zoe Saldaña as a Na'vi character in Avatar 2 donned in costume accessories

    11. Filming didn’t start until all five Avatar films had been written.

    During the filming of Avatar 2

    12. AND, it took a whole three years!

    Zoe Saldaña scene being filmed via motion capture for Avatar 2

    13. Cameron wrote 1,500 pages of notes for the four writers who had the task of turning it into the scripts.

    Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, 2 of the writers on Avatar 2

    14. Apparently, one story idea could have bombed.

    Lo'ak and the giant tulkun in Avatar 2

    15. The movie was basically edited twice.

    Military machine in Pandora

    16. Composer Simon Franglen led the music, following in the steps of the late James Horner.

    Simon Franglen at Avatar 2 event

    17. Sigourney Weaver input into Kiri’s character.

    Sigourney Weaver's character, Kiri, in Avatar 2

    18. The rendering of Avatar 2 caused Wētā to outgrow the power grid.

    Avatar 2 underwater scene with Na'vi and sea creature

    19. Edward Norton turned down a chance to appear.

    Edward Norton at Knives Out: Glass Onion premiere

    Have you seen Avatar: The Way of Water? What did you think of it?