James Cameron Writing 'Avatar' Prequel -- But Not For The Big Screen

Director plans to write debut novel that tells the film's backstories, producer Jon Landau reveals.

It's the highest-grossing film of all time, possesses the most Oscar nominations of any film heading into next month's ceremony and is the word on everyone's lips: [movie id="301495"]"Avatar."[/movie] Now, [movieperson id="9282"]James Cameron[/movieperson] is beginning work on a prequel — but it won't be coming soon to a theater near you.

"Jim is going to write a novel himself," the film's producer, Jon Landau, told us when he stopped by the MTV News studios recently. "Not a novelization — and there is a distinction. A novelization basically retells the story of the movie. Jim wants to write a novel that is a big, epic story that fills in a lot of things."

Ever since "Avatar" mania engulfed Hollywood, rumors and small details have leaked out about possible prequels, sequels, comic books and novelizations. But Landau's comments appear to indicate the first definitive plan to provide more from the "Avatar" world to the seemingly endless appetite of its fans.

"[We] won't have time to do [these stories] in the movie, or maybe in sequels," Landau explained of what Cameron will be writing about. "[So the novel will] give a foundation for the world.

"It would be something that would lead up to telling the story of the movie, but it would go into much more depth about all the stories that we didn't have time to deal with — like the schoolhouse and Sigourney [Weaver's character] teaching at the schoolhouse; Jake on Earth and his backstory and how he came here; [the death of] Tommy, Jake's brother; and Colonel Quaritch, how he ended up there and all that," Landau explained.

Although Cameron has extensive writing credentials, including the screenplays for everything from the first two "Terminator" films to "Titanic," the "Avatar" prequel would mark his debut as a novelist.

"I don't think Jim has ever written a novel before, but his first step of writing a script is often in a novella format," Landau said. "So this is just expanding that, and I think that he'll be very adept at it."

If the "Avatar" prequel novel is a success, Cameron and Landau could potentially follow in the footsteps of George Lucas, opening up their sci-fi universe to other authors for interpretation. "We certainly have stories that are set before the movie opens and after," he explained. "I think that what we want to do is find out what mediums those stories are best told in. There might be opportunities in publishing to tell some of the backstory, tell some of the Earth war stories, what went on in Jake's life before the movie. And we'd have that lead up to the sequel that might take place on Pandora several years after our movie closed."

As for when "Avatar" fans can look forward to experiencing Cameron's novel, Landau had some encouraging news: "I'm hoping by the end of this year."

Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.