There are a lot of headlines screaming that director James Cameron has confirmed a Christmas 2017 release date for Avatar 2, the sequel to the biggest movie of all time, Avatar, which released in 2009. But that isn't true. He says that's the goal right now, but he doesn't think the release date is important at all. What is important is that the next three sequels release back-to-back. And that each of these sequels, which will include Avatar 2, Avatar 3 and Avatar 4, stand alone to tell one massive story.

When Avatar debuted in 2009, it showed the world what was possible with 3D technology. And it spent months at #1 on the box office charts. Since that time, 3D has never taken off quite as planned. And Avatar stands threatened to lose it's box office crown to the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is on track to obliterate every box office record in existence. Director James Cameron is desperate to prove that Avatar wasn't a fluke, and he's prepared to throw everything he has at the franchise. Here's what he said to The Montreal Gazette about the impending release date for Avatar 2, and what is happening with the movies overall.

"Christmas of '17 is the target. At least, that's what we've announced. But I don't consider that to be as important as the fact that when we get all three films done, we drop them a year apart. I call it a meta-narrative that runs across the three movies. Each film stands alone, but it also tells one much larger story."

The director went onto reconfirm that the design work on the movies is nearly completed. And that everything is moving towards an early 2016 production start date. Here's what he had to say about the two-year pre-production process.

"We have design more or less finished, which is an enormous task. It's been about a two-year task. (We've finished) all the creatures and the landscapes, and the new worlds within the world of Pandora that you see. The writing is ongoing, but almost finished. Technical development is done. Stages are done. Infrastructure. So we're really poised to start after the first of the year."

The plan as it stands now is to shoot the three movies back-to-back. The main cast, which consists of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang are poised to return. The movie will be using underwater performance capture as one of the new techniques that these sequels will showcase. James Cameron said this about continuing the sci-fi action adventure earlier this year.

Related: Zoe Saldana Has Wrapped on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 Says James Cameron

"Obviously, expectations are going to be very high on these films, especially on Avatar 2, to make sure it wasn't just some big fluke the first time. So we've got to deliver. I've created a nice rod for my own back, so they say."

The Avatar sequels are being produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment. The sequels are currently being written by James Cameron along with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Josh Friedman, and Shane Salerno. While Avatar 2 has been announced as a 2017 Christmas release, it should be noted that the original Avatar was delayed by years, as was the blockbuster hit Titanic. Not hitting a proposed release date is kind of James Cameron's thing. And most suspect that the same will happen here. Avatar 2 was originally set to be released in 2013, which was pushed to 2015, and 2016 respectively. No one will blink if it gets pushed to 2018. Except maybe 20th Century Fox, who are in desperate need of a hit franchise.

B. Alan Orange