Avatar will continue with 4 films: James Cameron

James Cameron is planning not three but four new Avatar films. 'We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process,' the Canadian filmmaker announced at CinemaCon, the annual convention of movie theatre owners.

Planned trilogy of sequels was too 'limiting'

Director James Cameron talks to an audience of theatre owners at CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners in Las Vegas Thursday. (Chris Pizzello/Associated Press)

James Cameron is planning not three but four new Avatar films, the Canadian filmmaker revealed in Las Vegas at CinemaCon, the annual convention of movie theatre owners.

Cameron, on hand for a lavish presentation by Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, said Thursday that as he was planning the project, he realized he couldn't contain the story into just three additional movies.

We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process.- James Cameron

"We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process," Cameron told the gathering, noting that he has been working with "top screenwriters" to design and expand the Avatar universe.

"We began to bump up against the limitations for our art form," he continued, saying he felt an additional installment was necessarily to tell the whole story.

Avatar, released in 2009, tells the story of a disabled U.S. marine who joins a program that sends him to a distant world called Pandora. There, a war is brewing between the humans, who are trying to mine a valuable mineral, and the native race called Na'vi, trying to protect their forest-covered land.

The 2009 sci-fi blockbuster movie Avatar will have four, not three, sequels, filmmaker James Cameron announced at CinemaCon. (20th Century Fox/File/The Associated Press)

The Oscar-winner is the world's highest-grossing film of all time after earning $2.8 billion US at the global box office (though Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently pushed it to second place as the top-grossing film of all time in North America).

Each of the next four Avatar sequels will be able to stand alone, Cameron told the CinemaCon audience, but together the films can be considered a saga.

"So far, the art I'm seeing is — in pure imagination — really far beyond the first film," he said. "It's going to be a true epic saga."

The second instalment is set for release during the holiday season in 2018, with the following films to arrive in 2020, 2022 and 2023.

Cameron had initially planned to release the next Avatar in 2016 and then pushed its debut to 2017, citing the "complexity" of creating a story arc that crosses several films.

Avatar has also inspired the Cirque du Soleil arena show Toruk, which premiered in Montreal in December.

Thursday's Avatar announcement joined other major movie news and revelations from Fox, including widely expected sequel plans for Deadpool and sneak peeks at the forthcoming X-Men Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence, Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children and The Birth of a Nation, which was the breakout star of this year's Sundance Film Festival.

With files from The Associated Press


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