by Avatar 2 Movie
Avatar director James Cameron threw a party at the weekend to thank Wellington film workers for their part in the blockbuster film.
The Oscar-winner’s trip, which was veiled in secrecy, has fuelled speculation he will soon confirm two sequels – already announced – to the world’s biggest movie that will be made in the capital.
Photographs taken during the party, held at the Overseas Terminal on Friday, show a relaxed-looking Cameron mingling with staff from Weta Digital, which created the special effects in the first Avatar film.
He co-hosted the event with Avatar producer Jon Landau. "James mingled with everyone for hours and answered tons of questions," a Weta staffer posted on Facebook.
"James Cameron just touched my shoulder. Pretty awesome," another wrote on social media site Twitter.
Avatar has taken a record US$2.8 billion (NZ$3.68b) at box offices since its December 2009 release. It generated more than $100m of economic benefits to Wellington and more than 1500 people worked on it throughout the country.
A Weta Digital spokesman confirmed Cameron attended the party but would not comment on how long he stayed in Wellington or how he arrived.
Sir Peter Jackson’s private jet was seen at Wellington Airport earlier in the week.
Twentieth Century Fox said last October that two Avatar sequels would be made, scheduled for release in 2014 and 2015.
However, Cameron and Fox are yet to say whether Weta Digital will be involved, or confirm if the films will be made in Wellington.
Weta Digital boss Joe Letteri said last year that Cameron had expressed a desire to shoot the sequels in Wellington. "I don’t think there is any great longing on Jim’s part, or on Fox’s part, to do the movie anywhere else."
He did not return calls yesterday.
However, Cameron’s company, Lightstorm Entertainment, which will produce the sequels, was given planning approval just last week to go ahead with a massive digital movie studio in Agoura Hills, California. Project architect Brian Poliquin told local news site Agoura Hills Patch that Avatar 2 and 3 "are going to be happening in this building".
"This is probably some of the most technologically advanced studio filming that will be done."
Cameron wanted the studio built as fast as possible, Mr Poliquin said.