Variety reports that James Cameron has officially contracted with 20th Century Fox for two more Avatar, which are expected to be developed over the next five more years. According to the report, Cameron hopes to start production in late 2011, and may shoot the films back-to-back. He’s expected to begin writing early next year.
Fox must be ecstatic, giving the studio two cornerstone tentpoles that are expected to storm theaters in December 2014 and December 2015, respectively. The global sensation that is Avatar, nabbed $2.8 billion at the global box office to become the top grossing film of all time, toppling Cameron’s Titanic, which lured $1.8 billion. Negotiations for the sequel and three-quel began over the summer, and have apparently been finalized, continuing Cameron’s long relationship with Fox, which began with Aliens in 1985.
One unique provision of the deal is that Fox will help co-fund with the director a non-profit organization called the Avatar Foundation, which will support indigenous rights and the environment, including the fight against global warming. Additionally, unspecified proceeds from future Avatar movies will go to the foundation.
Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 will be produced by Cameron and his partner Jon Landau for Lightstorm Entertainment.
“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,” Cameron said. “I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild.”
Fox and Cameron have previously stated the cost of any Avatar sequels will be offset by the original investment made in creating the groundbreaking technology used in the original film, which is based on an idea the director nurtured for more than a decade. This while he developed cutting-edge technology to make the 3D film, with the assistance of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital.
“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,” Cameron said. “With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at 20th Century Fox.”
The announcement answers the question of what Cameron will do next. Other projects he was rumored to be considering included Cleopatra for Sony, and Battle Angel, an adaptation of the sci-fi anime classic, itself based on a manga by Yukito Kishiro.