James Cameron Details His Avatar Sequels Plan

James Cameron has detailed his plans to shoot four different Avatar sequels all at once

James Cameron made a surprise appearance last week at the tail end of 20th Century Fox‘s CinemaCon panel. There, the three-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker announced that four different Avatar sequels are on the way between now and 2023. Today, in a new interview with Famous Monsters of Filmland, Cameron reveals the plan isn’t to shoot all four films back to back. Instead, he’ll shoot four Avatar sequels at once!

“It’s really all one big production,” says Cameron. “It’s more the way you would shoot a miniseries. So we’ll be shooting across all [four films] simultaneously. So Monday I might be doing a scene from Movie Four, and Tuesday I’m doing a scene from Movie One… We’re working across, essentially, eight hours of story. It’s going to be a big challenge to keep it all fixed in our minds, exactly where we are, across that story arc at any given point… It’s a saga. It’s like doing all three ‘Godfather’ films at the same time.”

The first Avatar sequel is slated to arrive December of 2018, with the second to follow in 2020, the third in 2022, and the final Avatar sequel finally arriving in 2023. Production on the first Avatar sequel is set to begin in New Zealand, and was previously reported that production would begin this month.

“On the new ‘Avatar’ films, I’m actually going to shoot more real-world stuff,” Cameron continues. It may only be there as an example from which we then generate CG, or we may actually integrate some of those photographic elements. But I want more photography.”

The original 2009 Avatar remains the top-grossing movie of all-time with $2.782 billion at the worldwide box office. It was recently dethroned by Star Wars: The Force Awakens for reigning domestic box office champion with a total of $935 million to Avatar‘s $749 million. When it comes to going up against the Lucasfilm franchise, Cameron says that he’s going to be keeping his distance.

“[I] don’t want to land on the same date as one of the ‘Star Wars’ sequels. That wouldn’t be fair to them,” Cameron laughs. “No, that’s just good business. I don’t want to go head-to-head with ‘Star Wars’. That would be stupid. And hopefully they won’t want to go head-to-head with us.”

Confirmed to feature the return of cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver, each Avatar sequel will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment. The sequels are written by Cameron along with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Josh Friedman, and Shane Salerno.