At a certain point during the making of Avatar, James Cameron and producer Jon Landau realized that if the movie was a success, there would be more stories to be told set in the world of Pandora. Of course, Avatar went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time and won three Oscars in 2010. "To be honest, when the movie was done and we had the incredible success beyond anyone's imagination, we needed time to digest," Landau reflected during an Academy-hosted Q&A for Avatar: The Way of Water.

A sequel 13 years in the making, The Way of Water returns audiences to Pandora and follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their children as they face new threats, rally new allies, and further explore their moon-world. At the 95th Oscars, the movie is nominated for Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects.

In terms of the new worlds explored in The Way of Water, production designer Dylan Cole, who is nominated with Ben Procter and Vanessa Cole, explained that creating the world of the ocean-dwelling Metkayina was "far and away" the biggest challenge of the sequel. "It was very important for us to show cultural differences, and to show that there is diversity on this large moon," he said. "This was getting way more into Na'vi design."

Landau says that raising the bar of what Cameron and his team were able to achieve with The Way of Water was all in service of the film's ultimate goal. "We all have to fight to preserve [cinema] in today's world," the producer asserted. "That was really one of our goals, was to create something where, when audiences around the world go to see Avatar: The Way of Water, they are reminded of just how special the moviegoing experience can be."

Watch the full episode of Academy Conversations below to delve into the making of Avatar: The Way of Water, also featuring commentary by cinematographer Russell Carpenter, editor Stephen Rivkin, costume designer Deborah L. Scott, and composer Simon Franglen


How 'Avatar: The Way of Water' Utilized 3D HFR to Create 'the Most Immersive Experience' (Exclusive)

The Inside Story of How 'Avatar: The Way of Water' Became One of the Greenest Sets Ever (Exclusive)

2023 Oscars Nominations: See the Full List