If you’re shooting a sprawling blockbuster, with luscious alien planets providing the backdrop, then you’ve probably already considered New Zealand as a filming location. Truth is though, you’re not; but Peter Jackson did, and now James Cameron is heading back.

James CameronJames Cameron plans to spend under $1b making three Avatar films

He announced, alongside New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key and Avatar producer Jon Landau, that the second, third and fourth films – much like the first – will be filmed on the Pacific island.

"It's quite a thrill to be officially saying that we're bringing the Avatar films to New Zealand. We had such a wonderful experience here making the first film,” said Cameron. "It's a day of great celebration," Key said. "It's a great Christmas present for those involved in making world class movies." (Guardian)

The New Zealand government have agreed to a 25% rebate for the films, under the agreement that Lightstorm and Twentieth Century Fox spend at least $NZ500m ($413m) in New Zealand on the movies.

So far, the film’s budgets haven’t been announced, but Cameron has said the economies of scale should keep them somewhere below $1b combined – a great deal of money, but a paltry sum compared to the potential earnings of the three films. Avatar has become the highest grossing film of all time since its release back in 2009, accumulating a worldwide total of just under $2.8b.

The sequels are expected to perform even better, with increased interest in cinema-going and inflated ticket prices. Cameron also announced his decision to shoot portions of the film in 49 frames a second, something Jackson famously did in the first of the Hobbit trilogy, only to be met with complaints as it adversely affected audience’s viewing experiences.