It has been long in the planning, but James Cameron officially began production today in Manhattan Beach on the four Avatar sequels he is shooting in succession. No one is saying when Cameron will complete the unprecedented feat of shooting a quartet of blockbuster-budget 3D films in sequence.

It is not only unprecedented in number — Peter Jackson shot three of The Lord of the Rings installments together — it also will be the most expensive shoot of its kind, at an estimated collective budget expected to surpass $1 billion. That would sound daunting if it was any filmmaker but Cameron, who directed the two top-grossing films of all time worldwide in Avatar and Titanic and also has Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Aliens in his win column. Fox releases the first Avatar sequel December 18, 2020, and the next comes a year later, with the last two in December 2024 and 2025.