James Cameron announced today that the writing process on the next three(!) Avatar sequels has become “very involved” and will delay the release of the first new film in the cycle by a full year.

From the BBC:

“We’re not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that.

“And parallel with that, we’re doing all the design. So we’ve designed all the creatures and the environments.”

They’re not just going to make these things up, guys.

Listen, I get it. James Cameron is the highest stakes gambler in Hollywood right now, doubling down on a bet that paid off beyond his wildest dreams. To release a film that does the box office of Titanic is one thing, but to have your follow-up top those numbers (dramatically) is a fluke beyond compare. On some level he must know that it can’t happen again, let alone three more times, but he’s not the kind of filmmaker to throw his hands up to fate in that way. Anyway, what are odds to a guy who keeps defying them?

The biggest question is: will anyone care about these films by the time they hit theaters? Matt Singer wrote a great piece about the non-legacy of Avatar near the end of last year and it details the odd paradox of a film that grossed more than any other in modern film history while leaving no cultural footprint. So while that might seem like a bad sign for a trilogy of films that will likely cost a billion dollars (if The Hobbit trilogy is any indication), perhaps the best case scenario is that the public really doesn’t care if they have to wait another year, allowing Cameron the time to craft an interesting story or break new technological ground. Avatar shouldn’t be the yardstick by which the future of this franchise is measured, it should be how he comes back from an eight-year hiatus. I’d prefer he made a great movie and if he needs another year to do that, I can wait.