James Cameron and Fox confirmed this week that the biggest film of all time will be followed by three sequels and not two as previously planned.

In a statement Cameron said: “Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realise 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.”

Fox plans to shoot the three sequels at the same time once production gets underway in 2014. The studio has earmarked a Lord Of The Rings-style release pattern with the second instalment set for December 2016 and the third and fourth to follow in consecutive years.

Avatar grossed $2.8bn worldwide following its 2009 release, taking just over $2bn internationally and $760.5m in North America.