It’s been seven years since director James Cameron’s film “Avatar” debuted on the big screen.
During a 20th Century Fox panel at CinemaCon on Thursday, Cameron announced plans for four new sequels to “Avatar.”
The first film centered on disabled Marine Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, as he tries to convince the natives of Pandora, known as Na’vi, to leave their home so a human mining company can gain access to unobtanium, a rare and precious mineral worth millions.
Sully does this by assuming his deceased twin brother’s “avatar,” which is a human-Na’vi hybrid controlled by humans and allows them to take samples and explore the land, which is toxic to humans. However, Sully’s mission takes an unexpected turn when he falls in love with Neytiri, the clan leader’s daughter, played by Zoe Saldana, and identifies more with the Na’vi than humans.
“It’s going to be a true epic saga that’s told in this rich and complex world,” Cameron said during the panel. “But we’ve begun to bump up against the limitations of our art form. There’s just too much story and too many great visual ideas for two sequels.”
According to Cameron, he and his team went to Fox once to expand the series to three sequels. However, they returned to expand the saga to four sequels, with five films in total, after the writing was complete and they realized it would not fit in three movies.
The rest of the movies will focus more on the world of Pandora and its different inhabitants. Each movie will act as a stand-alone film, but will have interconnecting elements that bring them all together.
“I’ve been working the last couple years with a team of four top screenwriters and in parallel with some of the top artists and designers in the world to design the world of ‘Avatar’ going forward — the characters, the creatures, the environments, the new cultures, everything it takes to bring that world to life” Cameron said.
“And so far, what I’m seeing in the artwork on the walls, the stuff that’s been developed, is, in pure imagination, really far beyond the first film. And the small handful of people who’ve seen it so far have been speechless. So I’m very excited about what these films are going to look like.”
Some of the artwork was put on display briefly at the end of his panel presentation.
According to Mashable, each film will be released on Christmas Day, with the first release in 2018, followed by the second in 2020, the third in 2022 and the fourth in 2023.
“So now as you can imagine, I need to get my ass back to LA to get back to writing,” Cameron said. “And the next time I see you will be on Pandora."