James Cameron has agreed to make Avatar 2 and 3 his next films following the global triumph of last year’s sci-fi epic.
Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman made the announcement early today  and said, “We had no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of Avatar.”
Cameron will begin work on the scripts early next year with an eye towards commencing production later in 2011.
He will decide whether to shoot the films back-to-back after the scripts are ready. The release of the first, as yet untitled sequel, is targeted for December 2014, with the third film considered for a December 2015 release.
Cameron will produce with Jon Landau for Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment, reprising their regular collaboration.
“Avataris not only the highest grossing movie of all time, it is a created universe based on the singular imagination and daring of James Cameron, who also raised the consciousness of people worldwide to some of the greatest issues facing our planet,” Gianopulos and Rothman said.
“We had no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of Avatar. This is a great day in the history of our company, and we thank Jim, Jon Landau, Rae Sanchini and all of their team and all of our Fox colleagues throughout the world, who have made this possible.”
“It is a rare and remarkable opportunity when a film-maker gets to build a fantasy world, and watch it grow, with the resources and partnership of a global media company,” Cameron said.
He added that the upcoming films would be “self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc” and that he would “not back off the throttle of Avatar’s visual and emotional horsepower.”
“With the first movie, Jim only scratched the surface of the stories he wants to tell and the creatures and world he wants to create,” Landau said. “Now we will continue his vision.”
Avataris the highest grossing film of all time, taking in nearly $2.8bn in worldwide theatrical revenues. It won Golden Globes for best motion picture and best director and won Oscars for art direction, visual effects and cinematography.
Lightstorm partner Rae Sanchini negotiated the deal on Lightstorm’s behalf.