When New Line Cinema decided to go ahead with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it basically gambled the company on the franchise.
This was of course an enormous risk, but the risks were ultimately reduced in several areas. First, the films were all shot at the same time over in Peter Jackson's New Zealand. This saved a lot of money, as it was basically the equivalent shooting one long movie, then cutting it into three parts. (Again, very smart way to do it instead of doing three separate shoots).
Now when it comes to James Cameron, there's no cutting costs, and it's a given he's going to make the most expensive movie ever made, but now reports indicate he may shoot three, count 'em three, Avatar sequels back to back. Yes, there may indeed be an Avatar 4.
As Collider reports, this interesting bit of news came in from a site called Showbiz 411, and it apparently originated from none other than Sigourney Weaver herself, who said she has no idea how long all this could end up taking, or any other production details.
This is probably a good thing, because I can't imagine what it would be like trying to be the production manager on all this. I myself am nowhere near organized enough to take on anything this massive, I'd be fired in ten seconds flat if that were my job, whereas Iron Jim Cameron absolutely lives for this kind of challenge, and keeps upping the ante every movie.
You can almost imagine him saying, "Making one Avatar's too easy! I'm making three of 'em at once!!!"
Of course there's no word on when we can expect the next Avatar films, the last one was in gestation for quite some time before it was ready. However, unlike most of Cameron's previous films, it was also in theaters on schedule.
As of now, the tentative release dates for Avatar 2 and 3 are supposedly December 2014 and December 2015, but Cameron's producing partner John Landau said this is unlikely, and as writer Adam Chtiwood speculates, "Based on the post-production schedule of the first film, if Cameron indeed starts filming this fall we could possibly see Avatar 2 by late 2015."