Canadian director James Cameron has announced that his Avatar franchise is getting bigger. Cameron had originally planned for two follow-up movies to his massively successful 2009 film about the conflict between humans and the alien Na’vi race over a mining colony on the planet of Pandora, but now he says that the Avatar story cant be captured by a mere trilogy (even if each movie is three hours long). The director says he’s got enough material for three more Avatars, all of which will film simultaneously beginning in 2014.
It’s a good thing that the first movie in Cameron’s franchise brought in billions of dollars at the box office, because it’s estimated that this new trio of films will cost around $1 billion to make—maybe even more.
The movies are currently at the screenwriting stage. Cameron has brought in four writers to work with him, veterans of projects like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the upcoming Jurassic Park IV, Armageddon, and TV’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
“Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience,” said the director in a statement about his decision to expand the franchise. “In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda [Silver], Rick [Jaffa], Shane [Salerno] and Josh [Friedman]— all writers I’ve long admired—to join me in completing the films’ screenplays.”
Avatar 2 will be in theatres in time for the December holidays in 2016, seven years after we saw the first movie. The third and fourth installments will follow in December 2017 and 2018.