It's official: Zoë Saldana and Sam Worthington will reprise their roles as Neytiri and Jake Sully in the next three Avatar movies, E! News has confirmed.
Director James Cameron is making the sequels back-to-back-to-back, much like filmmaker Peter Jackson's The Hobbit fantasy series. The second Avatar movie will hit theaters in December 2016, with the third to follow in December 2017 and the fourth in December 2018.
"Jake Sully is a rare combination of passion, strength, street smarts and soul, which requires a lot from an actor. Sam brought to the role a combination of sensitivity, vulnerability and strength," Cameron said. "Zoë captured every aspect of the character I envisioned, bringing to Neytiri a mix of delicacy, fierceness and incredible physicality. I am beyond pleased they'll be returning with us to Pandora."
Saldana, 35, next appears in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and was recently cast in NBC's Rosemary's Baby miniseries. She will likely reprise her role as communications director Nyota Uhura in the next Star Trek movie, slated for release in 2016. Worthington, 37, can next be seen in the action movie Sabotage alongside Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Stephen Lang, who played Marine Colonel Quaritch in the 2009 blockbuster, was the first actor to sign on for new Avatar installments. Given that his character died in the first film, it's unclear how he will return.
Cameron will direct and produce the Avatar films alongside his producing partner Jon Landau. He hired a team of screenwriters—War of the Worlds' Josh Friedman, Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and Savages' Shane Salerno—to pen the scripts for each movie.
Avatar is the highest-grossing film at the box office of all time. Disney's Animal Kingdom recently began construction on a Pandora-themed attraction, which is tentatively scheduled to open in 2017.