Both Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will be returning for the forthcoming Avatar sequel – and two more films slated for the franchise.

Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington Returning For 'Avatar' Sequels

Director James Cameron, who brought Avatar to life in 2009 with groundbreaking filmmaking technology, announced Saldana and Worthington’s return for the sequels in a statement.

“[Worthington’s] Jake Sully is a rare combination of passion, strength, street smarts and soul, which requires a lot from an actor,” Cameron said. “Zoe 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."

Also returning for the sequels will be Stephen Lang, who played Miles Quaritch in the original. In the 2009 epic, Miles Quaritch died, so it’s unknown how the writers will be working him back into the franchise. Sigourney Weaver will likewise be reprising her role as Grace Augustine.

James Cameron Talks 'Avatar's Special Effects

The special effects in the Avatar sequel are expected to outmatch that of its predecessor – which is still the highest grossing movie of all time – while keeping the narrative within the familiar world of Pandora. “It’s going to be a lot of new imagery, and a lot of new environments and creatures across Pandora,” Cameron said. “We’re blowing it out all over the place. At first I thought I was going to take it onto other worlds as well, in the same solar system, but it turned out not to be necessary. I mean, the Pandora that we have imagined will be a fantasy land that is going to occupy people for decades to come, the way I see it.”

Though Cameron penned the first Avatar script alone, he’s recruited a team of experienced writers to help him with the screenplays for the follow-up films. Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Savages) will aid the three-time Oscar-winning director on bringing Jake Sully and Neytiri back to the big screen.

The first Avatar sequel is set to hit theaters December 2016. The second is scheduled for a December 2017 release and the last for December 2018.

– Chelsea Regan

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