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On the Lot: Hollywood poised for writers strike, Jim Cameron's 4-part Avatar sequel

Still from
Still from "Avatar" James Cameron is now working on a four-part sequel to what remains the highest grossing movie of all time.

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Voting ends today. Soon we'll know if members of the Writers Guild have authorized a strike if negotiators can't reach an agreement with producers. Talks are set to resume tomorrow, but Vanity Fair's Rebecca Keegan says it appears the two sides remain far apart over issues from health care cost to payments for work that appears on streaming services.

Although writers play a critical role in Hollywood, they know that unless they are prepared for a protracted strike - one that lasts perhaps several months - they probably won't be able to apply enough pain to get producers to bend. Scripts can be stockpiled, TV networks can fill schedules with unscripted shows, and the industry can muddle along for a good while without them. So if they decide to walk, it's a pretty good bet that many weeks will go by before any serious bargaining resumes.

While Hollywood waits to find out if there will be a work stoppage, the money keeps rolling in. The Fate of the Furious finished another weekend atop the box office here at home. But it's also burning up the road in China, earning more than $300 million.

Then, there's Avatar. It's the biggest grossing film of all time, and James Cameron has been working on a sequel for some time now. Well, make that plural. Sequels. Four of them. In typical Cameron style, he's shooting them all at once. If Cameron sticks to the schedule released over the weekend, (and he's famous for missing deadlines) they'll begin rolling out in 2020, with releases scheduled through 2025.