Avatar (2009 film): Wikis


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On the upper half of the poster are the faces of a man and a female blue alien with yellow eyes, with a giant planet and a moon in the background and the text at the top: "From the director of Terminator 2 and Titanic". Below is a dragon-like animal flying across a landscape with floating mountains at sunset; helicopter-like aircraft are seen in the distant background. The title "James Cameron's Avatar", film credits and the release date appear at the bottom.
Theatrical poster
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by James Cameron
Jon Landau
Written by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington
Zoe Saldana
Stephen Lang
Sigourney Weaver
Michelle Rodriguez
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Editing by James Cameron
John Refoua
Stephen E. Rivkin
Studio Lightstorm Entertainment
Dune Entertainment
Ingenious Film Partners
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) December 10, 2009 (2009-12-10)
(London premiere)
December 18, 2009
(United States)
Running time 162 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $237 million[2]
Gross revenue $2,638,942,185[3][4]

Avatar is a 2009 American epic science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang. The film is set in the year 2154, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system.[5][6][7] The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na'vi—a sentient humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film's title refers to the genetically engineered Na'vi and human hybrid bodies used by several human characters to interact with the natives of Pandora.[8]

Development on Avatar began in 1994, when Cameron wrote an 80-page scriptment for the film.[9] Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, for a planned release in 1999,[10] but according to Cameron, the necessary technology was not yet available to achieve his vision of the film.[11] Work on the language for the film's extraterrestrial beings began in summer 2005, and Cameron began developing the screenplay and fictional universe in early 2006.[12][13]

Avatar was officially budgeted at US$237 million.[2] Other estimates put the cost between $280 million and $310 million for production, and at $150 million for promotion.[14][15][16] The film was released for traditional two-dimensional projectors, as well as in 3-D, using the RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, XpanD 3D and IMAX 3D formats, and also in 4-D.[17] The stereoscopic filmmaking was touted as a likely breakthrough in cinematic technology.[18]

Avatar premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was released overseas on December 16 and in North America on December 18, to critical acclaim and commercial success.[19][20][21] The film broke several box office records during its release and became the highest-grossing film of all time in North America[22] and worldwide, surpassing Titanic, which had held the records for the previous 12 years.[23] It also became the first film to gross more than $2 billion.[24] Following the film's success, Cameron stated that there will be a sequel.[25] Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director,[26] and won three, for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction.



The story takes place in the year 2154 on Pandora, a lush, Earth-like moon of the planet Polyphemus[27] in the Alpha Centauri star system.[7] The RDA corporation is mining a valuable mineral called unobtanium. Administrator Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) heads the mining operation of the RDA colony, which has a private military force called Sec-Ops.[28] Pandora's atmosphere is toxic to humans, forcing them to use breathing masks.

Pandora is inhabited by the Na'vi, a ten-foot-tall (3 m) blue-skinned species of sapient humanoids,[29] who live in harmony with nature, worshiping a mother goddess called Eywa. To facilitate relations with the Na'vi and research of Pandora's biosphere, scientists grow Na'vi-human hybrid bodies called avatars that are operated via mental link by genetically matching humans.[30] Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic former Marine, replaces his twin brother, a scientist trained as an avatar operator but murdered in a robbery. Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), head of the Avatar Program, considers Sully an inadequate replacement for his brother and assigns him as a bodyguard.

As Grace, anthropologist Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) and Jake collect biological samples and data in the forest in their avatar forms, a thanator's attack separates Jake from the group. Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a female Na'vi, rescues Jake from predators in the forest, and seeing portents from Eywa, brings him to Hometree, where her clan, the Omaticaya, live. Neytiri's mother Mo'at (C. C. H. Pounder), the clan's spiritual leader, shows interest in the "warrior dreamwalker" and instructs her daughter to teach Jake their ways.

The head of Sec-Ops, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), promises Jake restorative treatment for his paraplegia in exchange for intelligence that would enable Quaritch to force the cooperation of the Na'vi.[31] Hometree is on top of massive deposits of unobtainium, and RDA wants the site. As Jake starts delivering information to Quaritch, Grace becomes suspicious and relocates herself, Jake and Norm to a remote outpost with avatar link units. Over three months, Jake grows close to Neytiri and the Omaticaya, eventually rejecting RDA's agenda. After Jake is initiated into the Omaticaya, he and Neytiri choose each other as mates. Jake reveals his change of allegiance when he disables a bulldozer as it destroys the tribe's Tree of Voices. Quaritch presents Selfridge with Jake's video diary, in which Jake admits that the Omaticaya will never abandon Hometree. Selfridge orders Hometree destroyed.

Despite Grace's argument that the destruction of Hometree could affect the bio-botanical neural network to which Pandoran organisms are connected, Selfridge gives Jake and Grace one hour to convince the Na'vi to leave Hometree. Jake reveals his original mission to the Omaticaya, and Neytiri accuses him of betrayal. Jake and Grace's avatars are taken captive. Quaritch's forces destroy Hometree, killing Neytiri's father, the clan chief Eytucan (Wes Studi), and many others. Jake, Grace and Norm are imprisoned for betraying the RDA. Trudy Chacón (Michelle Rodriguez), a security force pilot disgusted with Quaritch's methods, breaks them out, flies them to the outpost and helps relocate it. During the escape Quaritch shoots Grace, seriously wounding her.

To regain the Omaticaya's trust, Jake tames a Toruk, a powerful flying predator that only five Na'vi have ever tamed. Jake finds the Omaticaya at the sacred Tree of Souls and pleads with Mo'at to heal Grace. The clan attempts to transfer Grace from her dying human body into her unconscious avatar with the aid of the Tree, but she succumbs to her injuries before the transfer is complete. Mo'at declares that "she is with Eywa now".

Assisted by Neytiri and the new leader of the Omaticaya Tsu'tey (Laz Alonso), Jake unites thousands of warriors from many Na'vi clans in a bid to repel the humans. Jake prays to Eywa, via neural connection to the Tree of Souls, to intercede on behalf of the Na'vi in the coming battle. Quaritch notes the mobilization of the Na'vi and convinces Selfridge to authorize a preemptive strike on the Tree of Souls, reckoning that the destruction of this hub of Na'vi religion and culture will demoralize them into submission.

As the security forces attack, the Na'vi retaliate but suffer heavy casualties, including Tsu'tey and Trudy. The Pandoran wildlife suddenly joins the attack on the corporation's forces, overwhelming them, an event that Neytiri interprets as Eywa answering Jake's prayer. Jake destroys the bomber before it can reach the Tree of Souls. Quaritch finds and attacks the avatar link unit where Jake's human body is located, exposing Jake to Pandora's atmosphere. Neytiri kills Quaritch and saves Jake. With the attack repelled, Neytiri and Jake reaffirm their love as she sees his human body for the first time.

Selfridge and the remaining corporate personnel are expelled from Pandora, while Jake, Norm, and other scientists are allowed to remain. Jake is seen wearing the insignia of the Omaticaya leader. The clan performs the ritual that permanently transfers Jake from his human body into his Na'vi body.

Cast and characters

  • Sam Worthington as Corporal Jake Sully. Sully, the film's protagonist, is a disabled former Marine who becomes part of the Avatar Program. His military background helps the Na'vi warriors relate to him. Cameron cast the Australian actor after a worldwide search for promising young actors, preferring relative unknowns to keep the budget down.[32] Worthington, who was living in his car at the time,[33] auditioned twice early in development,[34] and he has signed on for possible sequels.[35] Cameron felt that because Worthington had not done a major film, he would give the character "a quality that is really real". Cameron said he "has that quality of being a guy you'd want to have a beer with, and he ultimately becomes a leader who transforms the world".[36]
  • Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch. Quaritch is the head of the mining operation's security detail. Fiercely loyal to his military code, he has a profound disregard for Pandora's inhabitants and serves as the film's primary antagonist. Lang had unsuccessfully auditioned for a role in Cameron's Aliens (1986), but the director remembered Lang and sought him for Avatar.[37] Michael Biehn, who was in Aliens, read the script and watched some of the 3D footage with Cameron,[38] but was ultimately not cast in the role.
  • Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine. Augustine is an exobiologist and head of the Avatar Program. She mentors Sully and is an advocate of peaceful relations with the Na'vi, having set up a school to teach them English.[39] She dies after Quaritch shot her. Weaver dyed her hair red for the part.[40]
  • Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacón. Chacón is a combat pilot assigned to support the Avatar Program who is sympathetic to the Na'vi. Cameron had wanted to work with Rodriguez since seeing her in Girlfight.[37]
  • Giovanni Ribisi as Parker Selfridge. Selfridge is the corporate administrator for the RDA mining operation and one of the film's primary antagonists.[41] Despite being the human in charge of the mining project, he only reluctantly authorises the attacks on the Na'vi after being persuaded by Quaritch that it is necessary, and the attacks will be humane. When the attacks are broadcast to the base, Selfridge displays discomfort at the violence.
  • Joel David Moore as Norm Spellman. Spellman is an anthropologist[42] who studies plant and nature life as part of the Avatar Program. He arrives on Pandora at the same time as Sully and operates an avatar. Although he is expected to lead the diplomatic contact with the Na'vi, it turns out that Jake has the personality more calculated to win the natives' respect.
  • Dileep Rao as Dr. Max Patel, a scientist who works in the Avatar Program.[43]
  • Zoe Saldana as Neytiri. Neytiri is the film's female Na'vi protagonist, princess of the Omaticaya, the Na'vi clan central to the story, who is attracted to Jake because of his bravery.[44] The character, like all the Na'vi, was created using performance capture, and its visual aspect is entirely computer generated.[45] Saldana has also signed on for potential sequels.[46]
  • C. C. H. Pounder as Mo'at. Mo'at is the Omaticaya's spiritual leader, Neytiri's mother, and consort to clan leader Eytucan.[47]
  • Laz Alonso as Tsu'tey. Tsu'tey is heir to the chieftainship of the tribe, and at the beginning of the film's story, he is betrothed to Neytiri.
  • Wes Studi as Eytucan. Eytucan is the Omaticaya's clan leader, Neytiri's father and Mo'at's mate.



In 1994, director James Cameron wrote an 80-page scriptment for Avatar.[9] In August 1996, he announced that after completing Titanic, he would film Avatar, which would make use of synthetic, or computer-generated, actors.[11] The project would cost $100 million and involve at least six actors in leading roles "who appear to be real but do not exist in the physical world".[48] Visual effects house Digital Domain, with whom Cameron has a partnership, joined the project, which was supposed to begin production in the summer of 1997 for a 1999 release.[10] However, Cameron felt that the technology had not caught up with the story and vision that he intended to tell. He decided to concentrate on making documentaries and refining the technology for the next few years.

In June 2005, Cameron was announced to be working on a project tentatively titled Project 880, concurrently with another project, Battle Angel.[49] It was later revealed in a Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story that 20th Century Fox had fronted $10 million to Cameron to film a proof-of-concept clip for Avatar, which he showed to Fox execs in October 2005.[50] By December, he said he planned to film Battle Angel first for a mid 2007 release, and to film Project 880 for a 2009 release.[51] In February 2006, he said he had switched goals for the two film projects – Project 880 was now scheduled for 2007 and Battle Angel for 2009. He indicated that the release of Project 880 would possibly be delayed until 2008.[52]

Later that February, Cameron revealed that Project 880 was "a retooled version of Avatar", a film that he had tried to make years earlier,[53] citing the technological advances in the creation of the computer-generated characters Gollum, King Kong and Davy Jones.[9] Cameron had chosen Avatar over Battle Angel after completing a five-day camera test in the previous year.[54]


From January to April 2006, Cameron worked on the script and developed a culture for the film's aliens, the Na'vi. Their language was created by Dr. Paul Frommer, a linguist at USC.[9] The Na'vi language has a vocabulary of about 1000 words, with some 30 added by Cameron. The tongue's phonemes include ejective consonants (such as the "kx" in "skxawng") that are found in the Amharic language of Ethiopia, and the initial "ng" that Cameron may have taken from New Zealand Māori.[13] Actress Sigourney Weaver and the film's set designers met with Jodie S. Holt, professor of plant physiology at University of California, Riverside, to learn about the methods used by botanists to study and sample plants, and to discuss ways to explain the communication between Pandora's organisms depicted in the film.[55]

In July 2006, Cameron announced that he would film Avatar for a mid 2008 release and planned to begin principal photography with an established cast by February 2007.[56] The following August, the visual effects studio Weta Digital signed on to help Cameron produce Avatar.[57] Stan Winston, who had collaborated with Cameron in the past, joined Avatar to help with the film's designs.[58] Production design for the film took several years. The film had two different production designers, and two separate art departments, one of which focused on the flora and fauna of Pandora, and another that created human machines and human factors.[59] In September 2006, Cameron was announced to be using his own Reality Camera System to film in 3-D. The system would use two high-definition cameras in a single camera body to create depth perception.[60]

Fox was wavering because of its painful experience with cost overruns and delays on Cameron's previous picture, Titanic, even though Cameron rewrote Avatar's script to combine several characters together and offered to cut his fee in case the film flopped.[50] Cameron installed a traffic light with the amber signal lit outside of co-producer Jon Landau's office to represent the film's uncertain future.[50] In mid-2006, Fox told Cameron "in no uncertain terms that they were passing on this film," so he began shopping it around to other studios, and showed his proof-of-concept to Dick Cook (then chairman of The Walt Disney Company).[50] However, when Disney attempted to take over, Fox exercised its right of first refusal.[50] In October 2006, Fox finally agreed to commit to making Avatar after Ingenious Media agreed to back the film, which reduced Fox's financial exposure to less than half of the film's official $237 million budget.[50] After Fox accepted Avatar, one skeptical Fox executive reportedly told Landau, "I don't know who's crazier for letting you take this on, us or you!"[61]

External audio
James Cameron interviewed by F. X. Feeney on writing Avatar.
Interview, from here retrieved March 9, 2010

In December 2006, Cameron described Avatar as "a futuristic tale set on a planet 200 years hence ... an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience [that] aspires to a mythic level of storytelling".[62] The January 2007 press release described the film as "an emotional journey of redemption and revolution" and said the story is of "a wounded former Marine, thrust unwillingly into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in biodiversity, who eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival". The story would be of an entire world complete with an ecosystem of phantasmagorical plants and creatures, and a native people with a rich culture and language.[46]

Estimates put the cost of the film at about $280–310 million to produce and an estimated $150 million for marketing, noting that about $30 million in tax credits will lessen the financial impact on the studio and its financiers.[14][15][16] However, a studio spokesperson, speaking with film website The Wrap, said that the budget "is $237 million, with $150 million for promotion, end of story".[2]

Themes and inspirations

A blue humanoid alien wearing battle paint, holding a futuristic weapon.
Jake Sully flies into battle to save his newly adopted tribe.

Avatar is primarily an action-adventure journey of self-discovery, in the context of imperialism and deep ecology.[63] Cameron said his inspiration was "every single science fiction book I read as a kid", and that he was particularly striving to update the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter series.[34] The director has acknowledged that Avatar shares themes with the films At Play in the Fields of the Lord and The Emerald Forest, which feature clashes between cultures and civilizations, and with Dances With Wolves, where a battered soldier finds himself drawn to the culture he was initially fighting against.[64] In a 2009 interview with the Japanese press he also said that a theme at the end of Avatar was "a homage to Miyazaki's animated film Princess Mononoke."[65]

In a 2007 interview with Time magazine, Cameron was asked about the meaning of the term avatar, to which he replied, "It's an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form. In this film what that means is that the human technology in the future is capable of injecting a human's intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body."[8]

The look of the Na'vi—the humanoids indigenous to Pandora—was inspired by a dream that Cameron's mother had, long before he started work on Avatar. In her dream, she saw a blue-skinned woman 12 feet (4 m) tall, which he thought was "kind of a cool image". He included similar creatures in his first screenplay (written in 1976 or 1977), which featured a planet with a native population of "gorgeous" tall blue aliens. These later became the basis for the Na'vi.[63] On the specific reason for the choice of blue as their skin color, Cameron said "I just like blue. It's a good color ... plus, there's a connection to the Hindu deities,[66] which I like conceptually."[67] At a 2010 press conference in New Delhi, James Cameron said that the title Avatar and the magical land of Pandora had a subconscious reference to Hindu mythology. He added: "I just have loved every thing, the mythology, the entire Hindu pantheon, seems so rich and vivid. I didn't want to reference the Hindu religion so closely but the subconscious association was interesting and I hope I haven't offended any one in doing so."[68]

A grey mountain in the middle of a forest.
Pandora's floating "Hallelujah Mountains" were inspired in part by the Chinese Huang Shan mountains (pictured).[69]

For the film's floating "Hallelujah Mountains", the designers drew inspiration from "many different types of mountains, but mainly the karst limestone formations in China."[70] According to production designer Dylan Cole, the fictional floating rocks were inspired by Mount Huang (also known as Huangshan), Guilin, Zhangjiajie, among others around the world.[70] Director Cameron had noted the influence of the Chinese peaks on the design of the floating mountains, saying at a December 2009 press conference in Beijing, "all we had to do was simply recreate Huangshan Mountain in outer space."[71] When Cameron was asked if he got the idea for the floating mountains from an album cover of the rock band Yes, he replied with a laugh, "It might have been ... Back in my pot-smoking days."[67]

To create the interiors of the human mining colony on Pandora, production designers visited the Noble Clyde Boudreaux[72] oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico during June 2007. They photographed, measured and filmed every aspect of the platform, which was later replicated on-screen with photorealistic CGI during post-production.[73]

For the love story between characters Jake and Neytiri, Cameron applied a star-crossed love theme, and acknowledged its similarity to the pairing of Jack and Rose from his film Titanic. Both couples come from radically different cultures that are contemptuous of their relationship and are forced to choose sides between the competing communities. "They both fall in love with each other, but they need to fight side-by-side, and so there's that kind of requirement to let the other person go in order to do what you need to do, which is kind of interesting," said Cameron.[74] He felt that whether or not the Jake and Neytiri love story would be perceived as believable partially hinged on Neytiri's physical attractiveness. "So the physiological differences—the more alien we make them in the design phase, we just kept asking ourselves—basically, the crude version is: 'Well, would you wanna do it?'" stated Cameron. The all-male crew of artists were used to perfect the Na'vi attractiveness.[75] Though Cameron felt Jake and Neytiri do not fall in love right away, Worthington and Saldana, the characters' portrayers, disagreed. Cameron said Worthington and Saldana "had a great chemistry" during filming.[74]

At Comic Con 2009, Cameron told attendees that he wanted to make "something that has this spoonful of sugar of all the action and the adventure and all that". He wanted this to thrill him "as a fan" but also have a conscience "that maybe in the enjoying of it makes you think a little bit about the way you interact with nature and your fellow man".[76] He added that "the Na'vi represent something that is our higher selves, or our aspirational selves, what we would like to think we are" and that even though there are good humans within the film, the humans "represent what we know to be the parts of ourselves that are trashing our world and maybe condemning ourselves to a grim future".[76]

Some of these things you can't raise without being called unpatriotic, but I think it's very patriotic to question a system that needs to be corralled, or it becomes Rome.

James Cameron[77]

Cameron acknowledges that Avatar implicitly criticizes America's role in the Iraq War and the impersonal nature of mechanized warfare in general.[78] In reference to the use of the term shock and awe in the film, Cameron said, "We know what it feels like to launch the missiles. We don't know what it feels like for them to land on our home soil, not in America." He said in a later interview, "The film is definitely not anti-American."[79] A scene in the film portrays the violent destruction of the towering Na'vi Hometree, which collapses in flames after a missile attack, coating the landscape with ash and floating embers. Asked about the scene's resemblance to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Cameron said he had been "surprised at how much it did look like September 11".[78]


James Cameron, wearing a black suit, holds a monitor-like gadget. A panel with storyboards is seen to his left, and a panel with pictures of Pandora is seen behind him.
For Avatar, Cameron made use of an augmented reality system called a "virtual camera" to view the computer-generated outcome of the motion-capture process in real time.[80]

Principal photography for Avatar began in April 2007 in Los Angeles and Wellington, New Zealand. Cameron described the film as a hybrid with a full live-action shoot in combination with computer-generated characters and live environments. "Ideally at the end of the day the audience has no idea which they're looking at," Cameron said. The director indicated that he had already worked four months on nonprincipal scenes for the film.[81] The live action was shot with a modified version of the proprietary digital 3-D Fusion Camera System, developed by Cameron and Vince Pace.[82] In January 2007, Fox had announced that 3-D filming for Avatar would be done at 24 frames per second despite Cameron's strong opinion that a 3-D film requires higher frame rate to make strobing less noticeable.[83] According to Cameron, the film is composed of 60% computer-generated elements and 40% live action, as well as traditional miniatures.[84]

Motion-capture photography would last 31 days at the Hughes Aircraft stage in Playa Vista in Los Angeles.[54][85] Live action photography began in October 2007 at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand, and was scheduled to last 31 days[86]. More than a thousand people worked on the production.[85] In preparation of the filming sequences, all of the actors underwent professional training specific to their characters such as archery, horseback riding, firearm use, and hand-to-hand combat. They received language and dialect training in the Na'vi language created for the film.[80] Prior to shooting the film, Cameron also sent the cast to the jungle in Hawaii[87] to get a feel for a rainforest setting before shooting on the soundstage.[80]

During filming, Cameron made use of his virtual camera system, a new way of directing motion-capture filmmaking. The system displays an augmented reality on a monitor, placing the actor's virtual counterparts into their digital surroundings in real time, allowing the director to adjust and direct scenes just as if shooting live action. According to Cameron, "It's like a big, powerful game engine. If I want to fly through space, or change my perspective, I can. I can turn the whole scene into a living miniature and go through it on a 50 to 1 scale."[88] Using conventional techniques, the complete virtual world cannot be seen until the motion-capture of the actors is complete. Cameron said this process does not diminish the value or importance of acting. On the contrary, because there is no need for repeated camera and lighting setups, costume fittings and make-up touch-ups, scenes do not need to be interrupted repeatedly.[89] Cameron described the system as a "form of pure creation where if you want to move a tree or a mountain or the sky or change the time of day, you have complete control over the elements".[90] He gave fellow directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson a chance to test the new technology.[62] Spielberg said, "I like to think of it as digital makeup, not augmented animation.... Motion capture brings the director back to a kind of intimacy that actors and directors only know when they're working in live theater."[89] Spielberg and George Lucas were also able to visit the set to watch Cameron direct with the equipment.[91]

To film the shots where CGI interacts with live action, a unique camera referred to as a "simulcam" was used, a merger of the 3-D fusion camera and the virtual camera systems. While filming live action in real time with the simulcam, the CGI images captured with the virtual camera or designed from scratch, are superimposed over the live action images and shown on a small monitor, making it possible for the director to instruct the actors how to relate to the virtual material in the scene.[80]

Visual effects

The left image shows the blue cat-like alien Neyitiri shouting. The right image shows the actress who portrays her, Zoe Saldana, with motion-capture dots across her face and a small camera in front of her eyes.
Cameron pioneered a specially designed camera built into a 6-inch boom that allowed the facial expressions of the actors to be captured and digitally recorded for the animators to use later.[92]

A number of revolutionary visual effects techniques were used in the production of Avatar. According to Cameron, work on the film had been delayed since the 1990s to allow the techniques to reach the necessary degree of advancement to adequately portray his vision of the film.[10][11] The director planned to make use of photorealistic computer-generated characters, created using new motion-capture animation technologies he had been developing in the 14 months leading up to December 2006.[88]

Innovations include a new system for lighting massive areas like Pandora's jungle,[93] a motion-capture stage or "volume" six times larger than any previously used, and an improved method of capturing facial expressions, enabling full performance capture. To achieve the face capturing, actors wore individually made skull caps fitted with a tiny camera positioned in front of the actors' faces; the information collected about their facial expressions and eyes is then transmitted to computers.[94] According to Cameron, the method allows the filmmakers to transfer 100% of the actors' physical performances to their digital counterparts.[95] Besides the performance capture data which were transferred directly to the computers, numerous reference cameras gave the digital artists multiple angles of each performance.[96] Richard Baneham, an animation supervisor for the film, noted one scene in particular that presented a unique challenge for his crew and said, “There’s a moment at the end of the movie when Jake is picked up by Neytiri, and we finally see Jake as a human and Neytiri as a Na’vi, and they interact. That you have a live action character and a CG character actually touching is a huge deal. We were invested to the point where the right amount of shadow was cast, including the right amount of bounce light from the human character reacting on the Na’vi’s skin.”[97]

The lead visual effects company was Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand, at one point employing 900 people to work on the film[98]. To render Avatar, Weta used a 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) server farm making use of 4,000 Hewlett-Packard servers with 35,000 processor cores.[99] The render farm occupies the 193rd to 197th spots in the TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Creating the Na'vi characters and the virtual world of Pandora required over a petabyte of digital storage,[100] and each minute of the final footage for Avatar occupies 17.28 gigabytes of storage.[101] To help finish preparing the special effects sequences on time, a number of other companies were brought on board, including Industrial Light & Magic, which worked alongside Weta Digital to create the battle sequences. ILM was responsible for the visual effects for many of the film's specialized vehicles and devised a new way to make CGI explosions.[102] Joe Letteri was the film's visual effects general supervisor.[103]

Music and soundtrack

Composer James Horner scored the film, his third collaboration with Cameron after Aliens and Titanic.[104] Horner recorded parts of the score with a small chorus singing in the alien language Na'vi in March 2008.[105] He also worked with Wanda Bryant, an ethnomusicologist, to create a music culture for the alien race.[106] The first scoring sessions were planned to take place in Spring 2009.[107] During production, Horner promised Cameron that he would not work on any other project except for Avatar and reportedly worked on the score from four in the morning till ten at night throughout the process. He stated in an interview, "Avatar has been the most difficult film I have worked on and the biggest job I have undertaken."[108] Horner composed the score as two different scores merged into one. He first created a score that reflected the Na'vi way of sound and then combined it with a separate "traditional" score to drive the film.[80] British singer Leona Lewis was chosen to sing the theme song for the film, called "I See You". An accompanying music video, directed by Jake Nava, premiered December 15, 2009, on MySpace.[109]



A man in a blue jacket, with a gray shirt underneath, in front of a microphone. The eye logo for the San Diego Comic-Con is seen in the background.
Cameron at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con promoting the film.

The first photo of the film was released on August 14, 2009,[110] and Empire magazine released exclusive images from the film in its October issue.[111] Cameron, producer Jon Landau, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and Sigourney Weaver appeared at a panel, moderated by Tom Rothman, at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con on July 23. Twenty-five minutes of footage was screened[112] in Dolby 3D.[113] Weaver and Cameron appeared at additional panels to promote the film, speaking on the 23rd[114] and 24th[115] respectively. James Cameron announced at the Comic-Con Avatar Panel that August 21 will be 'Avatar Day'. On this day the trailer for the film was released in all theatrical formats. The official game trailer and toy line of the film were also unveiled on this day.[116]

The 129-second trailer was released online on August 20, 2009.[117] The new 210-second trailer was premiered in theatres on October 23, 2009, then soon after premiered online on Yahoo! on October 29, 2009, to positive reviews.[118][119] An extended version in IMAX 3D received overwhelmingly positive reviews.[117] The Hollywood Reporter said that audience expectations were coloured by "the [same] establishment skepticism that preceded Titanic" and suggested the showing reflected the desire for original storytelling.[120] The teaser has been among the most viewed trailers in the history of film marketing, reaching the first place of all trailers viewed on Apple.com with 4 million views.[121] On October 30, to celebrate the opening of the first 3D cinema in Vietnam, Fox allowed Megastar Cinema to screen exclusive 16 minutes of Avatar to a number of press.[122] The three-and-a-half-minute trailer of the film premiered live on November 1, 2009, during a Dallas Cowboys football game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on the Diamond Vision screen, the world's largest video display, and to TV audiences viewing the game on Fox. It is said to be the largest live motion picture trailer viewing in history.[123]

The Coca-Cola Company collaborated with Twentieth Century Fox to launch a worldwide marketing campaign to promote the film. The highlight of the campaign was the website AVTR.com. Specially marked bottles and cans of Coca-Cola Zero, when held in front of a webcam, enabled users to interact with the website's 3D features using augmented reality (AR) technology.[124] The film was heavily promoted in an episode of the Fox Network series Bones in the episode "The Gamer In The Grease" (Season 5, Episode 9). Avatar star Joel David Moore has a recurring role on the program, and is seen in the episode anxiously awaiting the release of the film.[125] A week prior to American release, Zoe Saldana promoted the film on Adult Swim when she was interviewed by an animated Space Ghost.[126]


Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora, a 224-page book in the form of a field guide to the film's fictional setting of the planet of Pandora, was released by Harper Entertainment on November 24, 2009.[127] It is presented as a compilation of data collected by the humans about Pandora and the life on it, written by Maria Wilhelm and Dirk Mathison. HarperFestival also released Wilhelm's 48-page James Cameron's Avatar: The Reusable Scrapbook for children.[128] The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure was released on November 30, 2009, by Abrams Books.[129] The book features detailed production artwork from the film, including production sketches, illustrations by Lisa Fitzpatrick, and film stills. Producer Jon Landau wrote the foreword, Cameron wrote the epilogue, and director Peter Jackson wrote the preface.

In a 2009 interview, Cameron said that he planned to write a novel version of Avatar after the film was released.[130] In February 2010, producer Jon Landau stated that Cameron plans a prequel novel for Avatar that will "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", saying that "Jim wants to write a novel that is a big, epic story that fills in a lot of things".[131]

Video games

Cameron chose Ubisoft Montreal to create an Avatar game for the film in 2007. The filmmakers and game developers collaborated heavily, and Cameron decided to include some of Ubisoft's vehicle and creature designs into the film.[132] James Cameron's Avatar: The Game was released on December 1, 2009,[133] for most home video game consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, iPhone), Microsoft Windows and December 8 for PSP.

Action figures and postage stamps

Mattel Toys announced in December 2009 that it would be introducing a line of Avatar action figures.[134][135] Each action figure will be made with a 3D web tag, called an i-TAG, that consumers can scan using a web cam, revealing unique on-screen content that is special to each specific action figure.[134] A series of toys representing six different characters from the film are also being distributed in McDonald's Happy Meals in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the United States and Venezuela.[136]

In December 2009, France Post released a special limited edition stamp based on Avatar, coinciding with its worldwide release.[137]


Initial screening

Avatar premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was released theatrically worldwide from December 16–18.[138] The film was originally set for release on May 22, 2009, during filming,[139] but was pushed back to allow more post-production time (the last shots were delivered in November[93]), and to also give more time for theatres worldwide to install 3-D projectors.[140] Cameron stated that the film's aspect ratio would be 1.78:1 for 3-D screenings and that a 2.39:1 image would be extracted for 2-D screenings.[141] However, a 3-D 2.39:1 extract was also approved for use with constant-image-height screens (i.e. screens which increase in size to display 2.39:1 films).[142] During a 3-D preview showing in Germany on December 16, the movie's DRM ‘protection’ system failed, and some copies delivered could not be watched at all the theaters. The problems were fixed in time for the public premiere, however.[143] Avatar was released in a total of 3,457 theatres in the US, of which 2,032 theatres are running it in 3-D. In total 90% of all advance ticket sales for Avatar were for 3-D screenings.[144]

Internationally, Avatar opened on a total of 14,604 screens in 106 territories, of which 3,671 were showing the film in 3-D (producing 56% of the first weekend gross).[145][146] The film was simultaneously presented in IMAX 3-D format, opening in 178 theaters in the United States on December 18. The international IMAX release included 58 theaters beginning on December 16, and 25 more theaters were to be added in the coming weeks.[147] The IMAX release was the company's widest to date, a total of 261 theaters worldwide. The previous IMAX record opening was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which opened in 161 IMAX theatres in the US, and about 70 international.[148] In summer 2009, 20th Century Fox Korea adapted and later released Avatar in 4-D version, which included "moving seats, smells of explosives, sprinkling water, laser lights and wind".[17]

Box office

Avatar earned $3,537,000 from midnight screenings domestically (United States and Canada), with the initial 3-D release limited to 2,200 screens.[149] The film earned $27 million on its opening day, and $77 million over its opening weekend, making it the second largest December opening ever behind I Am Legend,[3][20] and the 25th largest national United States weekend opening,[3] despite a blizzard which blanketed the East Coast of the United States and reportedly hurt its opening weekend results.[14][20][21] The IMAX opening also broke box office records, with 178 theaters generating approximately $9.5 million, 13% of the film's $73 million (at the time) domestic gross on fewer than 3% of the screens.[147]

International markets generating opening weekend tallies of at least $10 million were Russia ($20.8 million), France ($20.3 million), the UK ($14.1 million), Germany ($13.2 million), Australia ($11.9 million), South Korea ($11.4 million) and Spain ($10.9 million).[145] Avatar's worldwide gross was an estimated $232,180,000 after five days,[3][21] the ninth largest opening-weekend gross of all time, and the largest for a non-franchise, non-sequel and original film.[3] 58 international IMAX screens generated an estimated $4.1 million during the opening weekend.[147]

The film's revenues decreased by a mere 1.8% in its second weekend in domestic markets, earning $75,617,183, to remain in first place at the box office[150] and recording the biggest second weekend of all time.[151] The film experienced another small decrease in revenue in its third weekend, dropping 9.4% to $68,490,688 domestically, though remaining in first place at the box office,[152] to set another weekend record.[153] On the 19th day of the film's international release, it crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, making it the fastest film ever to do so[154] and also making it the highest-grossing release of 2009 worldwide.[155] In its fourth weekend, Avatar continued its streak, leading the box office domestically, to set a new all-time fourth-weekend record of $50,306,217,[156] and becoming the highest-grossing 2009 release in the United States.[157] In the film's fifth weekend, it set the Martin Luther King Day four-day weekend record, grossing $54,401,446;[158] its three-day take was $42,785,612, also a new fifth-weekend record,[159] and held to the top spot to set the sixth weekend record as well, earning $34,944,081.[160] On January 31, it became the first film to earn over $2 billion.[161] It took $31,280,029 in the U.S. and Canada to set a seventh weekend record,[162] and remained in the number one spot at the domestic box office for seven consecutive weeks, the most consecutive #1 weekends since Titanic spent 15 weekends at #1 in 1997–'98.[163] On February 27, after 72 days of domestic release it became the first film to gross over $700 million. Avatar is just the second film to earn over $1 billion dollars in foreign box office revenue alone,[23] and spent 11 consecutive weekends at the top of the foreign box office chart.[164]

Avatar has grossed over $730 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $1.908 billion in other territories for a worldwide total of over $2.638 billion,[3][4] with over 72.3% of its total worldwide gross in international markets.[3][4] Avatar has set a number of box office records during its release; on January 25, 2010, it surpassed Titanic's worldwide gross to become the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide 41 days after its international release,[165][166][167] just two days after taking the foreign box office record,[168] and on February 2, 47 days after its domestic release, Avatar overtook Titanic to become the highest-grossing film of all time in Canada and the United States.[169] It is also the highest-grossing film of all time in at least 30 other markets, including China, Russia, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong, Colombia, Czech Republic, Chile, Portugal, Singapore, Ukraine, Hungary, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Dominican Republic, Latvia, Serbia, East and West Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Jamaica, Bahrain,[170] Brazil, Taiwan, the United Kingdom,[171] Mexico,[172] South Korea[173] and Ireland.[174] IMAX ticket sales account for $200 million of its worldwide gross,[175] more than double the previous record.[176]

Box Office Mojo estimates that after adjusting for the rise in average ticket prices, Avatar would be the 14th-highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. and Canada.[177] However, Box Office Mojo also observes that the higher ticket prices for 3-D and IMAX screenings have had a significant impact on Avatar's gross; it estimates that Avatar sold approximately 60 million tickets in crossing the $600 million threshold in the U.S. and Canada, similar to the number of tickets sold by modern blockbusters The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Spider-Man 2, Passion of the Christ and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in their entire runs.[168] In terms of worldwide revenue, Avatar has grossed more than Titanic after adjusting for inflation.[178]

Performance analysis

Before its release, various film critics and fan communities predicted the film would be a significant disappointment at the box office, as had been thought of Cameron's previous blockbuster Titanic.[179][180] This criticism ranged from Avatar's film budget, to its concept and use of 3-D "blue cat people".[179][180] Slate magazine's Daniel Engber complimented the 3-D effects, but also criticized them for reminding him of certain CGI characters from the Star Wars prequel films and for having the "uncanny valley" effect.[181]

I think if everybody was embracing the film before the fact, the film could never live up to that expectation.... Have them go with some sense of wanting to find the answer. When they sit down in that movie theatre and the lights go down.

James Cameron on Avatar's criticism[180]

Box office analysts, on the other hand, estimated that the film would be a box office success.[182][179] "The holy grail of 3-D has finally arrived," said an analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "This is why all these 3-D venues were built: for Avatar. This is the one. The behemoth."[182] The "cautionary estimate" was that Avatar would bring in around $60 million in its opening weekend. Others guessed higher.[182][183] Some analysts believed the film's three-dimensionality would help its box office performance, given that recent 3-D films had been successful.[179]

Cameron said he felt the pressure of the predictions, but that pressure is good for film-makers. "It makes us think about our audiences and what the audience wants," he stated. "We owe them a good time. We owe them a piece of good entertainment."[180] Although he felt Avatar would appeal to everyone and that the film could not afford to have a target demographic,[180] he especially wanted hard-core science-fiction fans to see it: "If I can just get 'em in the damn theater, the film will act on them in the way it's supposed to, in terms of taking them on an amazing journey and giving them this rich emotional experience."[184]

Regarding the sentiment that Avatar would need significant "repeat business" just to make up for its budget and achieve box office success, Cameron commented on sharing being a part of successful films and believed Avatar could inspire this reaction. "When people have an experience that's very powerful in the movie theatre, they want to go share it. They want to grab their friend and bring them, so that they can enjoy it," he said. "They want to be the person to bring them the news that this is something worth having in their life. That's how Titanic worked."[180]

After the film's release and unusually strong box office performance over its first two weeks, it was debated as the one film capable of surpassing Titanic's worldwide gross, and its continued strength perplexed box office analysts.[185][186] "Most films are considered to be healthy if they manage anything less than a 50% drop from their first weekend to their second. Dipping just 11% from the first to the third is unheard of," relayed Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office analysis for Hollywood.com. "This is just unprecedented," he said. "I had to do a double take. I thought it was a miscalculation."[187] Though other films in recent years had been cited as contenders for surpassing Titanic, most recently The Dark Knight,[188] Avatar was considered the first film with a genuine chance to do so, and its numbers being aided by higher ticket prices for 3D screenings[185] did not fully explain its success to box office analysts. "What's also impressive is that Avatar made it through the holiday season in first place three consecutive weekends with a number of other highly competitive titles standing in its way," stated Dergarabedian. "Everyone stayed out of the way for Dark Knight. But nobody got out of the way for Avatar."[187]

Analysts predicted second place for the film's worldwide gross, but most were uncertain about it surpassing Titanic because "Today's films flame out much faster than they did when Titanic was released."[187] Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo, however, believed in the film's chances of surpassing Titanic, though he also believed it was too early to surmise because it had only played during the holidays. He said, "While Avatar may beat Titanic's revenue record, it will be tough, and the film is unlikely to surpass Titanic in attendance. Ticket prices were about $3 cheaper in the late 1990s."[187] In December, Cameron had stated, "I don't think it's realistic to try to topple Titanic off its perch. Some pretty good movies have come out in the last few years. Titanic just struck some kind of chord."[189]

Though analysts have been unable to agree that Avatar's success is attributable to one primary factor, several explanations have been advanced. First, January is historically "the dumping ground for the year's weakest films", and this has also applied to 2010.[190] Cameron himself said he decided to open the film in December so that it would have less competition from then into January.[180] Titanic capitalized on the same January predictability, and earned most of its gross in 1998.[190] Additionally, Avatar established itself as a "must-see" event. Gray said, "At this point, people who are going to see Avatar are going to see Avatar and would even if the slate was strong."[190] Marketing the film as a "novelty factor" also helped. Fox positioned the film as a cinematic event that should be seen in the theatres. "It's really hard to sell the idea that you can have the same experience at home," stated David Mumpower, an analyst at BoxOfficeProphets.com.[190] The "Oscar buzz" surrounding the film and international viewings also helped. "Two-thirds of Titanic's haul was earned overseas, and Avatar is tracking similarly ... Avatar opened in 106 markets globally and was No. 1 in all of them", and the markets "such as Russia, where Titanic saw modest receipts in 1997 and 1998, are white-hot today" with "more screens and moviegoers" than before.[190] Films in 3-D accumulated $1.3 billion in 2009, according to Variety, "a threefold increase over 2008 and more than 10 percent of the total 2009 box-office gross". The increased ticket price – an average of $2 to $3 per ticket in most markets – has helped the film.[190] Likewise, Entertainment Weekly attributed the film's success to 3-D glasses, but also to its "astronomic word-of-mouth". Not only do some theaters charge up to $18.50 for IMAX tickets, but "the buzz" created by the new technology is the possible cause for sold-out screenings.[191]

Gray said Avatar having no basis in previously established material makes its performance remarkable and even more impressive. "The movie might be derivative of many movies in its story and themes," he said, "but it had no direct antecedent like the other top-grossing films: Titanic (historical events), the Star Wars movies (an established film franchise), or The Lord of the Rings (literature). It was a tougher sell..."[190] By mid-January, Cameron had changed his prediction on whether the film would surpass Titanic: "It's gonna happen. It's just a matter of time," he said.[192] In response to the film's global success, Tom Rothman, a chairman for Fox Films stated, "It tells you all of us on the planet have more things in common than we have dividing us."[193]

Critical reception

The film received generally positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 82% of 250 professional critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.4 out of 10.[194] Among Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics, which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs,[195] the film holds an overall approval rating of 94%, based on a sample of 35 reviews.[196] The site's general consensus is that "It might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but Avatar reaffirms James Cameron's singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking."[194] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 0–100 reviews from film critics, the film has a rating score of 84 based on 35 reviews.[197] CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend revealed the average grade cinemagoers gave Avatar was A on an A+ to F scale. Every demographic surveyed was reported to give this rating. The main reason given for seeing the film was its use of 3-D, as it was considered the main draw.[198]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "extraordinary" and gave it four stars out of four. "Watching Avatar, I felt sort of the same as when I saw Star Wars in 1977", he said. Like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, the film "employs a new generation of special effects".[199] A. O. Scott of At The Movies also compared viewing the film to the first time he viewed Star Wars. He said "the script is a little bit ... obvious" but that "is part of what made it work".[200] Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the film. "The King of the World sets his sights on creating another world entirely in Avatar, and it's very much a place worth visiting."[201] Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive, review. "The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-'em-ups you care to mention" he stated.[202] Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers praised the film, giving it three and a half out of four stars and in his print review wrote, "It extends the possibilities of what movies can do. Cameron's talent may just be as big as his dreams."[203] Richard Corliss of Time magazine stated, "Embrace the movie—surely the most vivid and convincing creation of a fantasy world ever seen in the history of moving pictures."[204] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times felt the film has "powerful" visual accomplishments but "flat dialogue" and "obvious characterization".[205] James Berardinelli, film critic for ReelViews, praised the film and its story, giving it four out of four stars he wrote, "In 3D, it's immersive – but the traditional film elements – story, character, editing, theme, emotional resonance, etc. – are presented with sufficient expertise to make even the 2D version an engrossing 2 1/2-hour experience."[206]

Avatar's underlying social and political themes attracted attention. Armond White of the New York Press wrote that Cameron used villainous American characters to misrepresent facets of militarism, capitalism, and imperialism.[207][208] Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, praised the film for its "profound show of resistance to capitalism and the struggle for the defense of nature".[209] Russell D. Moore in The Christian Post concluded that propaganda exists in the film and stated, "If you can get a theater full of people in Kentucky to stand and applaud the defeat of their country in war, then you've got some amazing special effects."[210] Adam Cohen of The New York Times was more positive, calling the film's anti-imperialist message "a 22nd-century version of the American colonists vs. the British, India vs. the Raj, or Latin America vs. United Fruit".[211] Ross Douthat of The New York Times opined that the film is "Cameron's long apologia for pantheism ... Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now",[212] while Saritha Prabhu of The Tennessean called the film a misportrayal of pantheism and Eastern spirituality in general.[213] Annalee Newitz of io9 concluded that Avatar is another film that has the recurring "fantasy about race" whereby "some white guy" becomes the "most awesome" member of a non-white culture.[214] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune called Avatar "the season's ideological Rorschach blot".[215]

Critics and audiences have cited similarities with other films, literature or media. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe called it "the same movie" as Dances with Wolves.[216] Parallels to the concept and use of an avatar are in Poul Anderson's 1957 short story Call Me Joe, in which a paralyzed man uses his mind remotely to control an alien body.[217][218] Cameron has rejected these[219] and similar claims that he plagiarised the Noon Universe novels, a 1960's Soviet science-fiction series by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which are set in the 22nd century on a forested world called Pandora with a sentient indigenous species called the Nave.[220] Boris Strugatsky issued a statement on his website that he does not support the allegations against Cameron.[221] Various reviews have compared Avatar to the films FernGully: The Last Rainforest[222] and Pocahontas.[223] NPR's Morning Edition has compared the film to a montage of tropes, with one commentator stating that Avatar was made by mixing a bunch of film scripts in a blender.[224] Some sources noted similarities to the artwork of Roger Dean, which featured fantastic images of floating rock formations and dragons.[225][226] It has noted that “Avatar” has similarities to some Miyazaki's works, including 1984 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind , 1986 Castle in the Sky and 1997 Princess Mononoke. For example, Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal considers Pandora's floating mountains in Avatar of a homage to Laputa, the floating castle in Castle in the Sky.[227] In 2009 Japan premier and an interview by Japanese press, Cameron didn’t deny such ideas: he said that he was “a big Miyazaki fan” who watched his every new film, and he also acknowledged that he pays a homage to Princess Mononoke’'.[228][65]

The movie blog /Film accumulated a list of quotes about Avatar from fourteen writers and directors in Hollywood. From Steven Spielberg, "The most evocative and amazing science-fiction movie since Star Wars." Frank Marshall wrote, "Avatar is audacious and awe inspiring. It's truly extraordinary." Richard Kelly called the film "amazing". John August termed it a "master class". Michael Moore recommended, "Go see Avatar, a brilliant movie [for] our times." The only negative reaction in the list was from Duncan Jones: "It's not in my top three Jim Cameron films. ... at what point in the film did you have any doubt what was going to happen next?"[229]

Awards and honors

Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.[26] It won the awards for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The New York Film Critics Online honored the film with its Best Picture award.[230] The film also received nine nominations for the Critics' Choice Awards of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, winning in the Best Action Film and several technical categories.[231] It won two of the St. Louis Film Critics awards: Best Visual Effects and Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film.[232] Avatar also picked up four nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards, winning for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director.[233] The film also received eight nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), including Best Film and Director, but won for only Production Design and Special Visual Effects.[234] The film has additionally received various other awards, nominations and honors.

Home media

20th Century Fox has confirmed there are plans to release Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray.[235] While Cameron has stated that Avatar will be released in 3-D around November 2010, the studio has stated the opposite: "3D is in the conceptual stage and Avatar will not be out on 3D Blu-ray in November."[235] Cameron told The Wall Street Journal that the film is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 22, 2010 and that there will be further editions of DVD and Blu-ray available in the future.[236] In the UK, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 26, 2010.[237]


In 2006, Cameron stated that if Avatar were successful, he hoped to make two sequels to the film.[238] In 2010, he said the film's widespread success confirmed that he will.[25] The prospect of sequels was something he planned from the start, going so far as to include certain scenes in the film for future story followups.[238][239] Cameron said he wants to make the sequel "cheaper and faster" and that the story will be a continuation of the characters introduced in Avatar.[235]

Though plots for future sequels have not been laid out yet, Cameron stated that they are going to widen the universe while exploring other moons of Polyphemus.[235] The first sequel would continue to follow the characters of Jake and Neytiri.[240] Cameron implied that the humans would return as the antagonists of the story. "I expect that those nasty humans didn't go away forever," he said.[241] Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana have signed on to reprise their roles in future sequels, and Stephen Lang, who played Colonel Miles Quaritch, believes his character could make a return: "You think those two arrows in my chest are going to stop me from coming back?" Lang told Entertainment Weekly, "Nothing's over so long as they've got my DNA."[239] In late Februrary 2010, Sigourney Weaver, who played Dr. Grace Augustine, announced the possibility of her return for a sequel in an interview for the Le Grand Journal TV Show in Paris.[242]

When being interviewed by AP on the red carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards, Cameron stated "if I were to start Avatar 2 tomorrow, it would still be three years away."[243]


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Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Highest-grossing film of all time
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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Avatar (2009) is an American 3-D science fiction epic film written and directed by James Cameron. Released on December 18th, 2009 by 20th Century Fox.


Jake Sully

  • Everything is backwards now, like out there is the the real world and this is the dream
  • They've sent us a message … that they can take whatever they want. Well, we will send them a message: that this … this is our land!
  • I dreamed I was a soldier who could bring peace. But eventually, you always have to wake up.


  • You should not be here.

Dr. Grace Augustine

  • Just relax and let your mind go blank. That shouldn't be too hard for you.
    • To Jake Sully, before his consciousness is transferred to his Na'vian avatar

Colonel Quaritch

  • You are not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen. Respect that fact every second of every day. If there is a Hell, you might want to go there for a little R&R after a tour on Pandora.
    • Briefing new recruits on the dangers of Pandora
  • As head of security it is my job to keep you alive. I will not succeed. Not with all of you. If you wish to survive, you have to cultivate a strong mental attitude. You have to obey the rules. Pandora rules.
  • You haven't got lost in the woods, have you? You still remember what team you're playing for?
  • Nothing's over when I'm breathing!
  • Hey Sully, how does it feel to betray your own race?

Trudy Chacon

  • You should see your faces.
    • upon her passengers viewing the floating mountains of Pandora
  • You're not the only one with a gun, bitch!
    • while attacking Colonel Quaritch's command ship


  • This is why we're here, because this little grey rock sells for twenty million a kilo.
    • Selfridge, looking at a piece of unobtanium
  • My nose is full of his alien smell.
    • Eytukan about Jake Sully

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