New 'Avatar 2' set photo shows underwater filming

Close up detail of the new Avatar 2 concept art. (20th Century Fox)
Close up detail of the new Avatar 2 concept art. (20th Century Fox)

Avatar Jon Landau has shared a new look at the production of Avatar 2 which has recently resumed shooting in New Zealand.

It shows teen actor Britain Dalton filming an underwater sequence in a performance capture suit, riding atop something that will likely be replaced with an underwater creature by CGI.

Landau shared the image on his Instagram account, explaining in the caption that the photo was taken in 2019 by stills photographer Mark Fellman. Dalton is playing Lo’ak, the Na’vi son of Jake Sully and Neytiri, played by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana.

James Cameron is currently shooting the Avatar sequels in New Zealand following a brief shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He’s long been a proponent for shooting underwater and has pioneered a number of innovations to improve the technique over the years since 1989’s underwater sci-fi film The Abyss. This is his first film that will record performance capture underwater.

Production on the ambitious movie – being shot back-to-back with the third Avatar film – was halted in mid-March as countries around the world locked down amid the developing pandemic. (20th Century Fox) (20th Century Fox)

New Zealand in particular has been praised for its swift and decisive response to the virus, with cases of infection barely over 1000 and 22 deaths.

Read more: Avatar sequels concept art teases new vistas

Speaking to the New Zealand news site RNZ in May Landau teased the plot of the sequels: “This is the story of the Sully family and what one does to keep their family together.

“Jake and Neytiri have a family in this movie, they are forced to leave their home, they go out and explore the different regions of Pandora, including spending quite a bit of time on the water, around the water, in the water.

The next generation cast of the AVATAR sequels. L-R: Britain Dalton (Lo'ak of the Sully Family), Filip Geljo (Aonung of the Metkayina Clan), Jamie Flatters (Neteyam of the Sully Family), Bailey Bass (Tsireya of the Metkayina Clan), Trinity Bliss (Tuktirey of the Sully Family), Jack Champion (Javier"Spider" Socorro), and Duane Evans Jr (Rotxo of the Metkayina Clan). Photo Credit: Sheryl Nields.

“I think, why do people turn to entertainment today, more so than ever? I think it's to escape, to escape the world we're in, to escape the other pressures they have in their lives.”

Avatar 2 is scheduled for release on 17 December 2021.