came out today on NY Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/movies/avatar-director-james-cameron-builds-in-new-zealand.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all‘Avatar’ Director James Cameron Builds in New Zealand:
James Cameron has bought a house on land around Lake Pounui on New Zealand’s North Island.
THERE is no Pandora. But Pounui Ridge, roughly 20 miles from this Wairarapa Valley wine town, comes close.
There is the 3-D Imax-scale view for instance. Toward the south is the open Pacific, stretching 2,000 miles, straight to Antarctica. The choppy waters of Cook Strait lie to the west, with the jagged mountains of New Zealand’s South Island rising in snowcapped splendor in the distance.
Pandora, James Cameron’s mythical “Avatar” planet, overflows with odd wildlife, and so does Pounui. Consider the eels. After living in a freshwater lake here, they slither to the sea and spawn near the faraway island of Tonga. In a life cycle rooted in Miocene times, their elvers — leaf-shaped offspring — ride the currents back to Lake Pounui.
And when the next eels arrive, oddly enough, they may spot Mr. Cameron. “I’m anxious to throw on a scuba tank and get down there,” he said by phone the other day.
This year, shortly before his solo trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, Mr. Cameron, the filmmaker-adventurer, spent an estimated $16 million to buy 2,500 acres of farmland around Lake Pounui (pronounced po-NEW-ee). Now he expects to absorb its magic while creating some of his own in a pair of sequels that will build on the story of Pandora and on an ecological mythos that helped make “Avatar,” released by 20th Century Fox in 2009, the biggest-selling film of all time.
In a country that is now strongly identified in the world’s imagination with Peter Jackson and his “Lord of the Rings” films, Mr. Cameron arrives with the promise of not just an outsider’s eye but also a new national brand and a next wave of employment for hundreds of New Zealanders who are expected to work on “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3.” (News media reports of “Avatar 4” are premature, although Mr. Cameron hasn’t ruled it out.)