James Cameron developing four Avatar sequels

The director also uses his CinemaCon appearance to blast plans for a home movie streaming service.

Filmmaker James Cameron is extending the world of Avatar by adding a fourth sequel to his franchise plans.

The director scored a box office hit in 2009 with the release of the original fantasy blockbuster, which starred Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. It currently holds the title as the highest-grossing movie in history.

He then announced there would be three follow-ups, with Avatar 2 scheduled to hit cinemas in late 2016, but last year (15), Cameron admitted the writing process was taking longer than expected, and the second instalment was postponed until Christmas, 2017.

Cameron made a surprise appearance at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Thursday (14Apr16), and offered up both good and bad news to fans.

Addressing the crowds, he told devotees they would have to wait until the end of 2018 for Avatar 2, but then revealed he was adding an extra sequel to the timeline, taking the franchise tally to a total of five films.

"We're making four epic films that stand alone but together form a saga," he declared, according to Deadline.com. "These movies were designed to be seen in theatres first."

He went on to insist the films would be worth the wait, continuing, "I've been working with the top four screenwriters and designers in the world to design the world of Avatar going forward. The environments, new cultures... From what I'm seeing, the art on the wall... in pure imagination is just beyond the first film. I'm speechless."

Avatar 3 is pegged for release in 2020, with the fourth and fifth instalments following in 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile, Cameron also used his speech to underline his stance on proposed home streaming movie service The Screening Room, which would allow fans to watch new films on TV as soon as they are released in theatres.

"Our jobs as filmmakers is to keep making films on screen," he began. "We'll continue to make this industry the greatest show on earth. My producer Jon Landau and I are committed to the theatre experience. Despite what the folks at The Screening Room say, I think movies need to be offered in the theatre on opening day."

The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan has also spoken out against the proposal - the brainchild of Napster founder Sean Parker and his business partner Prem Akkaraju - while Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and J.J. Abrams have all endorsed the business venture, claiming The Screening Room could help swell overall revenues by targeting movie watchers who don't regularly go to cinemas to watch new releases.

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