Fox ended its CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas on Thursday with a surprise guest: James Cameron.
The filmmaker announced that there will be four "Avatar" sequels, not the previously planned three. "We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process," he said.
Cameron said as he was planning the three sequels, he found it limiting. "We began to bump up against the limitations for our art form," he said, explaining that he decided he would need more installments to tell the whole story.
Cameron said each of the four sequels will be able to stand alone, but will together create a saga. His goal is to release "Avatar 2" at Christmas 2018 and then a new film in 2020, 2022 and 2023.
"I've been working the last couple of years with a team of four top screenwriters," he said, "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 added. "It's going to be a true epic saga."
The original 2009 film earned $2.8 billion worldwide.
Cameron also spoke at length in support of the theatrical experience.
"So together, we're going to continue to make this industry the greatest show on earth. That's what we do," he said to hearty applause.
Cameron also slammed the Screening Room, saying, "I think it's absolutely essential for movies to be offered exclusively in theaters on their initial release."