Return To Pandora: James Cameron To Helm ‘Avatar 2 & 3’

James Cameron has agreed to make “Avatar 2 & 3” as his next films, Access Hollywood has learned.

The Award-winning director will begin working on the sequels’ scripts early next year, with a goal of beginning production towards the end of 2011.

Though James first spoke of possible sequels to the LA Times in April (saying that a planned follow-up to the blockbuster film would head for the fictional planet’s oceans), the news is now official.

“It is a rare and remarkable opportunity when a filmmaker gets to build a fantasy world, and watch it grow, with the resources and partnership of a global media company,” James said in a statement to Access Hollywood. “‘Avatar’ was conceived as an epic work of fantasy – a world that audiences could visit, across all media platforms, and this moment marks the launch of the next phase of that world. With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at Twentieth Century Fox. Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience’s expectations for the richness of ‘Avatar’s’ visual world and the power of the storytelling.

“In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of ‘Avatar’s’ visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world,” James continued. “I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild.”

James has yet to decide if he will shoot the films back-to-back after the scripts are completed, but release of the second and third films are tentatively scheduled for December 2014 and December 2015, respectively, and will be produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau for James’ Lightstorm Entertainment.

“Avatar” is the highest grossing film of all time, taking in nearly $2.8 billion in worldwide box office. It is also the top-selling Blu-ray disc of all time. The film won Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Director; and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won Oscars for art direction, visual effects and cinematography.

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