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"Avatar" Sequels Are Happening, But Not Because Of A Tweet

"It was honestly just an inside joke. I did not think people would actually believe it."

Posted on April 15, 2016, at 1:42 p.m. ET

On Thursday, director James Cameron made a surprise appearance at CinemaCon, the movie theater owners convention in Las Vegas, to announce that he was making four sequels to his 2009 mega-hit Avatar.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

He previously announced plans to make three.

Cameron also announced that the films would open over the Christmas holiday in 2018, 2020, 2022, and 2023.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

This is the latest in a series of delays for Cameron's follow-up to the original $2.8 billion–grossing blockbuster. In 2011, for example, he said he was going to make two Avatar sequels, and he planned to release them in 2014 and 2015.

According to the Los Angeles Times, however, Cameron explained at the 2016 CinemaCon that the Avatar sequels have been delayed — and, now, expanded — because his development team has come up with too much great stuff.

"So far what I’m seeing — the art on the walls, the stuff that’s been developed — is in pure imagination really far beyond the first film," Cameron said. "But we’ve begun to bump up against the limitations of our artform. … As the writing process has continued, and now that the script work is finishing up, it’s not three films — it’s four."

After Cameron's presentation, however, a quote purportedly from the filmmaker began to circulate on Twitter. And that quote made it seem like his rationale for making an Avatar quintilogy was more based out of…spite.

Someone showed me a tweet by this woman Dana something. Dana Smith? And it was, I'm paraphrasing here, but basically something along the lines of see how many of you can name one character or one line of dialogue from Avatar. And the implication was that nobody could, because the film, despite making a lot of money, didn't make a huge impression on people. So I got my team together and showed them this tweet and said, you know, what do we do about this. And we came up with a lot of ideas, just kinda put everything on the table. But the one we kept returning to was making four Avatar sequels instead of the one that we were planning. The idea being that if we had five Avatar movies spanning, you know, two decades or whatever, and people were just being constantly bombarded with Avatar from every direction, something would have to stick. So really, it all started with a tweet. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it.

The idea that a snarky tweet drove Cameron to saturate the world with Avatar made some people very happy.

The tweet referenced in that supposed quote from Cameron does, in fact, exist, from writer Dana Schwartz.

But Cameron, alas, did not actually say he's making four Avatar movies because of Schwartz's tweet.

WETA / 20th Century Fox

A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox told BuzzFeed News that Cameron did not give any interviews before or after his CinemaCon presentation.

Instead, the quote was a joke created by Chris Scott, author of the satire site Reviews of Movies I Haven't Seen, which he tweeted directly at Schwartz.

@iamchrisscott / Twitter

"It was honestly just an inside joke," Scott told BuzzFeed News. "I did not think people would actually believe it."

WETA / 20th Century Fox

Scott's joke was so convincing, however, even Schwartz's mom was apparently fooled.

But there you have it: James Cameron is making four Avatar movies, but not out of spite.

WETA / 20th Century Fox

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.