Get your Na’vi face paint and 3D glasses ready. After some discussion that James Cameron would do something different before taking us back to Pandora, 20th Century Fox announced today that Cameron’s next two films will be Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. He’ll begin writing them in the new year with an eye on starting production towards the end of 2011. However, being as there is a tiny amount of technical work that goes into creating the world of Pandora, the sequel won’t be released until December 2014 with the third film scheduled for the year after, December 2015. We’ve got more info after the break.

In several interviews, Cameron stated the reason he hadn’t officially announced the Avatar sequels was because he and 20th Century Fox had yet to work out a deal. Well, Variety reports that’s exactly what happened in recent days. Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said the following in a joint statement to Variety.

Avatar is not only the highest grossing movie of all time, it created a universe based on the singular imagination and daring of James Cameron, who also has raised the consciousness of people worldwide to some of the greatest issues facing our planet. We had no greater priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of Avatar.

This is Cameron’s quote on the deal getting done.

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. 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.

Considering Avatar made an incredible $750 million at the United States box office and an even more astounding $2.8 billion worldwide, plus is the best selling Blu-ray of all time (so far), there was little doubt a deal would get made and that it would be very lucrative. Depending on how each film does, five full years of work will surely net Cameron even more than the $350 million he reportedly made from the first film.

Cameron gave up a precious few details as to what he has planned for the next two movies.

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. I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild.

Cameron has previously spoken about what we can expect in the Avatar sequels, including going off Pandora and maybe into the seas, but until he puts pen to paper, nothing is set in stone. It is interesting that he says they’ll be self contained though.

And though both films will be released within a year of each other, Variety says that Cameron won’t decide if he wants to shoot them back to back until after he finishes writing. However, it almost seems like a necessity if he’s to hit both of those release dates. Cameron has so much power in this situation, though, there’s little doubt that if he wanted to bump the third film back a year or two, Fox would have to bite the bullet. Then again, being as the more work that’s completed on these films, the easier they get to make – because the filmmakers can reuse digital elements – maybe it’ll all work out.

Plus, this schedule should allow Cameron to produce both Fantastic Voyage and At The Mountains of Madness during 2011 before he dives into production.

December 2014 seems pretty far away, though, doesn’t it? Is everyone excited or do you feel like we will have forgotten about Avatar five years after the release of the first film?

Update: Here is the official press release:

JAMES CAMERON’S NEXT FILMS ARE AVATAR 2 & 3

Oscar®-winning Filmmaker to Follow his History-Making and Revolutionary Motion Picture Event with Two Films that Continue the Mythology of the World He Created

LOS ANGELES (October 27, 2010) __ Moving forward with the most anticipated films of the next decade, Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman announced today that Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Cameron has agreed to makeAVATAR 2 and 3 as his next films.

Cameron, who had always viewedAVATAR as the creation of a new world and mythology, will begin work on the scripts early next year with an eye towards commencing production later in 2011. Cameron will decide if he will shoot the films back-to-back after he completes the scripts, but the release of the first, as yet untitled sequel, is targeted for December 2014, with the third film contemplated for a December 2015 release.

AVATAR 2 & 3 will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau for Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment.

“AVATAR is not only the highest grossing movie of all time, it is a created universe based on the singular imagination and daring of James Cameron, who also raised the consciousness of people worldwide to some of the greatest issues facing our planet,” said Rothman and Gianopulos. “We had no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world ofAVATAR. This is a great day in the history of our company, and we thank Jim, Jon Landau, Rae Sanchini and all of their team and all of our Fox colleagues throughout the world, who have made this possible.”

Commented Cameron: “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. 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 ofAVATAR’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. I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild.”

“It is very exciting to be teaming again with our partners at Fox to give audiences the opportunity to return to Pandora,” said producer Jon Landau. “With the first movie, Jim only scratched the surface of the stories he wants to tell and the creatures and world he wants to create. Now we will continue his vision.”

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. AVATARwon 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.

In AVATAR, Cameron takes audiences to a spectacular world beyond imagination and limitations, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization.

AVATAR was written by Cameron from an idea he nurtured for over a decade, while working on the technology necessary to realize its wholly imagined world. Working with Joe Letteri and his team at Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital, Cameron created a fully immersive 3D cinematic experience of a new kind, where revolutionary technology that was invented to make the film disappeared into the emotion of the characters and the epic nature of the story.

AVATAR 2 & 3 will mark Cameron’s latest collaborations with Twentieth Century Fox, a relationship that spans 25 years and marks one of the most successful filmmaker-studio alliances in motion picture history. Cameron and Fox first joined forces in 1985 for Aliens, which became a sci-fi classic. Next came The Abyss, which revolutionized visual effects technology; and True Lies, a blockbuster starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1996, Fox greenlighted Cameron’s Titanic, which became the most successful film in history, and won a record-breaking eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Lightstorm partner Rae Sanchini negotiated the deal on Lightstorm’s behalf.

About Fox Filmed Entertainment

One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Fox International Productions.

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