Director will start shooting the three sequels back to back next year (2014)

James Cameron has confirmed that he is now working on three sequels to Avatar.

Avatar 2 will be released in December 2016, followed by Avatar 3 in December 2017 and Avatar 4 in December 2018, the director announced in a press release. The three sequels will be filmed back-to-back with shooting due to begin next year (2014).

Cameron also announced that he has recruited a team of screenwriters to collaborate with him on the films’ scripts: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise Of The Planets Of The Apes), Shane Salerno (Savages, Salinger) and Josh Friedman (War Of The Worlds), whose involvement had been reported yesterday (August 1).

Explaining his decision to go ahead with a fourth movie, Cameron said in a statement: “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,” he continued, “I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh – all writers I’ve long admired –­ to join me in completing the films’ screenplays.”

Released in 2009, Cameron’s Avatar became the highest-grossing movie of all-time, a title it still holds, with worldwide box office takings exceeding $2.7 billion (£1.7 billion). Stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver are all expected to return for the sequels.