James Cameron says he is now working on four ‘Avatar’ sequels

Writer-director is hoping to release the first follow-up film in Christmas 2018

James Cameron has expanded his Avatar franchise once again.

Writer-director Cameron announced at CinemaCon 2016 in Las Vegas today (April 14) that he is now working on four sequels to his 2009 blockbuster, rather than the previously announced three.

Cameron said he is aiming to have Avatar 2 ready for a Christmas 2018 opening, with the third, fourth and fifth films to follow in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Originally, Cameron had slated Avatar 2 for a 2015 release, but the first sequel has been pushed back several times since then.

“We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process,” he told publications including The Hollywood Reporter at CinemaCon today. “I’ve been working the last couple of years with a team of four top screenwriters to design the world of Avatar going forward: the characters, the creatures, the environment, the new cultures.”

“So far, the art I’m seeing, is in pure imagination, really far beyond the first film,” he continued. “It’s going to be a true epic saga.”

Released in 2009, Avatar became the highest-grossing film ever after raking in nearly $2.8 billion (£1.8 billion) at cinemas worldwide. It was nominated for nine Oscars the following year, taking home three in technical categories.