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There are two other things which nobody has seen. They come from two of the pinacles of our generation of films.I think when people look back on this era . . . when you have to be honest and think that just the two things that will actually shine above anything else will be maybe James Cameron's films and Pixar film's.

I think people will look back and go 'they're the two,' and they both have films coming out this year."Avatar," which I know everybody is looking forward too seeing that film and it will be an extraordinary moment to go and see it.

It will be a true event, and to see that movie, to see how he's trying to move cinema forward, which he always does every time he works.
. . . Danny Boyle, Director of Sunshine, when asked to name three films he is looking forward to this year.

Eyes on Avatar
By John Scalzi | Excerpt:

[Link no longer available]

James Cameron plays with 3D. I mean, really, people: How much more does a science fiction geek need to know before he says "sign me up"?

Cameron is like the good writer/director twin of George Lucas, in that both have been instrumental in using science fiction to push filmmaking technology as far as it can possibly go.

What makes Cameron the good twin instead of the evil goateed twin is that he can write interesting plots and characters, and then direct humans to show actual emotion.

It's never too early ...
Predicting the future of Oscar
By Matthew Belloni

[Link no longer available]

Feb 2009 - Films, stars and directors who make up our front-runners in the 2010 race for Oscar gold:

"Avatar" - James Cameron's first feature since 1997 best picture winner "Titanic" has to be considered an early contender, even though little is known about the $200 million, 3-D, part motion-capture space extravaganza.

VIDEO: Laz Alonso on Avatar

Laz Alonso discusses Avatar in this video, sharing a little about the technical side and how actor's must react to new filming techniques. Here is an excerpt from the video . . .

Alonso: "Technologically speaking, we are being filmed by 197 cameras simultaneously, every single take. It's something you just can't explain in words this man has created. At first it was intimidating because I've never worked in that environment before. You don't know what to expect or how it works, or anything about it.

But then you realize it's actually very liberating because in film you have only one to three cameras max at one time. You usually have to save your energy cause you got to do your wide shot. You can't let it all out in your wide shot because by the time come to your close up you're spent."

RealD CEO Michael Lewis

RealD CEO Michael Lewis on Avatar:
"I can't believe what my eyes are seeing."
Excerpt:'s George Roush talked with Michael Lewis, the CEO of RealD, regarding Avatar. Michael was asked to comment on the Avatar project and what is James Cameron doing differently that other people aren't or not able to do as a director with Avatar. Here are his comments . . .

"Yep, and we were actually talking about that earlier. Jim [Cameron] has been one of the big proponents of 3-D, probably with Jeffrey Katzenberg in terms of content producers and I had the good fortune of going over there not too long ago and seeing some of the earlier footage of that.

I think it's going to move the bar from a cinematic standpoint. It's synthetic worlds and the technology just keeps getting better and better. Visually, you look at it and go, 'I can't believe what my eyes are seeing.'

Avatar Production Designer Rick Carter:
"Cameron delivers a truly grand vision"
By Hugh Hart | Excerpt:

March 2009 - The creators of the Resident Evil 5 videogame utilized the same cameras favored by director James Cameron as he shoots his highly anticipated Avatar. The technology allows the filmmaker to manipulate computer-generated 3-D environments in and around actors, turning a single session of motion capture work into an endlessly tweakable scene.

For years, Cameron has championed his Titanic follow-up, a futuristic sci-fi epic set for December release, as a Hollywood game-changer that blends 3-D, motion capture, live action and digitally rendered story elements with unprecedented photorealistic detail.

Rick Carter (Artificial Intelligence: AI, The Polar Express) designed the futuristic universe in which Avatar takes place, a process he calls a "huge undertaking." "It's like creating real cities," he said. "There's infrastructure and planning and communication and vision and technical know-how.

Ridley Scott Quote

March 2009 - The grotesquely beautiful design of Alien still petrifies and captivates audiences thirty years later. But Ridley is preparing for the next leap in cinema technology.

He said: "I'm filming a book by Joe Haldeman called Forever War. I've got a good writer doing it. I've seen some of James Cameron's work, and I've got to go 3D. It's going to be phenomenal."

Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh Gives Avatar
High Praise | By Edward Douglas

April 29 - Earlier today, had a rare opportunity for an extended interview with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh for his upcoming film The Girlfriend Experience.

We were asking why he thought recent films didn't have quite the impact or longevity as the classics, and he gave us a great response about how the volume of movies being made and seen made it hard for anything to have the cultural impact of a movie like The Godfather or be remembered.

He was disappointed there weren't those sorts of benchmarks in the movies being made today, but he surprised us by adding that he thought James Cameron's Avatar would be one of those benchmarks:

"I've seen some stuff and holy sh*t. It's the craziest sh*t ever. That could negate everything I just said," he told us. A lot of people are eagerly anticipating the film, being that it's Cameron's first narrative feature film since Titanic way back in 1997, but nothing has been seen of the movie beyond a poster and a brief report from TIME last month. Reports:
"You really believe the alien is a living, breathing creature"
By Quint | Excerpt: reports from Showest 2009 the following on Avatar. . .

Quint: "I did get a chance to talk to RealD’s president, Josh Greer, who is a real geek like us, seems to be in love with his job. I asked him about Avatar and he said he’s seen much of it and that Cameron just got his first photoreal, finalized shots back from Weta and that they look incredible.

He said not in an incredible effect kind of way, but that you really believe the 12 foot tall blue alien is a living, breathing creature giving a real performance. He also said it was costing $1.2 million a minute to build, execute and render the film."

Movie VFX Research

Weta Digital, the New Zealand vfx shop working on James Cameron’s “Avatar” and Steven Spielberg’s “Tintin,” is launching a working group aimed at bringing advanced computer graphics research together with movie vfx production.

The new group, Transfx, is headed by Sebastian Sylwan, who has joined Weta as head of research and development. Sylwan was most recently senior industry manager for film and television at software developer Autodesk, where he spearheaded work on stereoscopic 3-D.

Tom Rothman

Avatar Update for Comic-Con

20th Century Fox Chairman Tom Rothman stated in an interview that there will be something going on at Comic-Con this year related to James Cameron’s Avatar. Rothman says that even without the 3D technology, Avatar is a “great kick ass, emotionally driven story.”

Other updates Rothman revealed were a reboot of Daredevil, Robert Rodriguez' full control of the Predator reboot, and a possible Ridley Scott Alien prequel film. You can click on the source link above to see the full IESB interview video.


Imax Clears a Path for What
Could Be a Good Long Run of
James Cameron’s “Avatar”
By Michael Cieply | Source:

How hot is James Cameron’s “Avatar”? Hot enough that Imax so far has not lined up any other Hollywood movies for its ultra-big screen theaters between Fox’s release of Mr. Cameron’s 3-D science fiction thriller on Dec. 18 and the arrival of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” on March 5.

Things could change. But the Imax people are mulling whether the several hundred large screens by then expected to be up and running with commercial films (as opposed to the museum-type fare) will be needed for almost three months to satisfy demand for Mr. Cameron’s first feature film since “Titanic.”

By contrast, Paramount’s “Star Trek” got only two weeks on the Imax circuit, which by the weekend will be playing “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” And “Terminator Salvation,” also opening next weekend, will have no Imax presence at all.

Searching for Avatar at Comic-Con
Will Cameron and crew reveal anything big?

All memberships have already been sold out for only the second time in the Con’s history. reports: 'The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con kicks off on July 22nd. That means geeks everywhere are starting to get very excited and we've started planning our coverage.

While it's expected that Comic-Con won't officially announce all of their panels and presentations until sometime in July, we've heard some early details on who might show up. We've heard that Fox may be going all out with Avatar.

So if you're attending, this is where you'll be the first to see any footage from the movie (in 3D) and it's likely James Cameron will show up as well.

Charlie Gibson: 'Avatar will be a
technological breakthrough'

Terminator Salvation Visual Effects
Supervisor weighs in on Avatar. . . .

Q: Speaking of reality, and the use of CG. As you said, in the last 10-15 years CG has become very refined and realistic, and, seamless. Where do you see VFX going from here? Is Avatar the next big thing?

A: Avatar is the next big thing! But I see three different directions for VFX. There's the super high def end, you know, certain directors like Jim Cameron and David Fincher and Gore Verbinski that are committed to the process, and are such artists and craftsmen, that they are involved from the very first sketches to the very last frame.

And they're there every day, looking at the work of the artists on the screen. That's what Avatar's going to be. Avatar will be a technological breakthrough, and it will be amazing, and will be the best 3D that anyone's ever seen.

Avatar Running Time is Over Two and a Half Hours
By Peter Sciretta | Excerpt:

SlashFilm's Russ Fischer was able to follow-up with Avatar producer John Landau, who made an appearance at the Ubisoft booth during the E3 video game convention. Fischer asked about Avatar’s running time, and Landau confirmed that it is “definitely over two and a half hours.”

The reason why I had my doubts is that the film is being released theatrically in 2D, Digital 3D and IMAX 3D, but the latter format does not allow for three-hour films.

I contacted IMAX, and they confirmed that the longest a non-digital 3D presentation could run is 160 minutes, and that is with two separate film reels, one for each eye.

When IMAX first began screening theatrical upconversions, the maxium running time was shorter, and I do recall one of the Harry Potter films being shortened a few minutes of the IMAX presentation. So it is possible that the same thing might have to be done for Avatar.

Total Film Magazine on Avatar:
Biggest Movie of the 21st Century
Transcribed by AMZ | Source: TFM Issue 155

The man standing next to James Cameron predicts Avatar will be the biggest 3D liv-action movie ever made. He's not alone. Ridley Scott recently saw some footage. 'It's . . . Amazing,' he breathlessly told Total Film. Steven Soderbergh put it another way: 'The shit is mindblowing.'

More than a thousand people have worked on Avatar. The budget of $200 million is whispered to be a wildly conservative estimate. By the time audiences see it in December, fourteen years will have passed since Cameron wrote his initial treatment.

'We can't do this,' his crew told him back in 1995. 'We'll die.' Cameron made the biggest movie of time instead. But it now seems as if Titanic - like the underwater IMAX documentaries he's filmed since - was just another stepping stone to create the technology he needed to realize Avatar.

2006 - 2008







2009A NEWS - January to June

All articles in this section are excerpt highlights, click on the source link for the complete article.

Avatar Snags Top Spot on UFS Most
Anticipated Scores of 2009

Director James Cameron and composer James Horner are of course best known for the multi-zillion-whatever-megahit Titanic, but they also gave us Aliens in 1986 which stands out as one of the most exciting nailbiter scores in sci-fi history.

On that film, Cameron gave Horner a pretty hard time as judging from the composer interview on the special edition DVD, and basically what you hear in the film is the result of a composer writing under enormous pressure.

On Avatar, the situation is the complete opposite. A luxury in film scoring today, the total time given to the scoring process on this film will probably exceed one year!

Horner is currently working exclusively on this film, with first bout of scoring possibly to take place in spring. Horner is working with his close team of collaborators on Avatar: music editor Jim Henrikson, engineer Simon Rhodes and programmer Aaron Martin are already involved. What to expect in terms of the music is difficult to pin down: the film is said to be totally unique, so will the score be that too?

In the Vein of Avatar. . . Alec Gillis' Worlds: A Mission of Discovery
James Cameron: "...a visual masterpiece..."

So impressed by Alec's illustrative book, James Cameron wrote an endorsing foreword. Published in 1995, Alec Gillis created the illustrative book Worlds: A Mission of Discovery. Presented in the same regal style of traditional sci-fi epic adventures like Cameron's scriptment Avatar, Worlds explores the incredible landscapes of planets in the Proxima Centauri system thru amazing artwork and digital renderings. Influenced by films such as Planet of the Apes, King Kong, and Jason and the Argonauts, Alec Gillis began making his own amateur movies, and by age thirteen had decided that creating creatures for Hollywood was to be his career. His first professional job was on Roger Corman's low budget space-epic, Battle Beyond Stars.

There he worked with many other talented industry newcomers, most notably director James Cameron. The next eight years were spent first attending UCLA's film school, then working for some of the industry's top names in make-up effects, most notably Stan Winston (Aliens, Leviathan, Alien Nation).

It was during his years with Winston that Gillis met his future business partner, Tom Woodruff, Jr. In 1988 they left Stan Winston Studio and formed Amalgamated Dynamics, Incorporated (ADI). Dedicated to the highest standards of quality in Animatronics and Special Makeup, Gillis and Woodruff have created effects in such films as Tremors and Alien3, for which they were Oscar® nominees.

AVATAR: Cinema's New Dawn
Transcribed by AMZ

Tomorrow's world - Why James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi war movie Avatar is by far the most important film of your lifetime...

Dates for your diary: movies started to talk in 1927 with The Jazz Singer. Becky Sharp - the first three-strip Technicolor feature film - hit theatres in 1935.

Cinema went fully digital in 1998 with The Last Broadcast. Avatar will be released on 18 December 2009. A sprinkle of aqua docs aside, Cameron has not made a film since Titanic. That was 1997. That was 12 years ago. What has he been doing?

Taking the movies to another dimension, that's what. Having pioneered visual effects in The Abyss (the first photorealistic CG character), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (CG plus human actors) and True Lies (composite technology), Cameron is convinced the future is 3-D.

And when you're "King of The World," you don't wait for the future. You invent it. Amazingly, Cameron first wrote the treatment for his groundbreaking 3-D sci-fi actioner Avatar in 1995. Unfolding in the distant future on an exotic alien planet called Pandora, it's the story of paraplegic ex-Marine Jake Sully.

After undergoing an experiment to exist in the alien world as an avatar - a blue, 10ft-tall, genetically engineered biological body, controlled by his human mind - Sully finds himself torn in a fight for his own survival and that of Pandora's indigenous people, the Na'Vi. Cameron's script sets up an epic war between the native race of an incredible world and the humans who want to exploit it.

VG Producer Reuben Langdon Discusses
Virtual Camera Technology and James Cameron's Avatar

Reuben Langdon, the co-founder, producer and action director for Just Cause, does the motion capture for the Chris Redfield character of the Resident Evil 5 video game.

And in the course of our visit he also shared his thoughts on working with director James Cameron on his much-anticipated live-action/computer-generated sci-fi film Avatar.

Much of what we see will be in 3-D and CG to convey an immersive, virtual reality. "Basically, for Resident Evil, Capcom had requested a 24 look, a handheld-camera look.

And to get that, ... editing can do that, but they have to keep reining in, and it's really tedious and takes a great amount of time. I was working on Avatar for James Cameron. I told him about the virtual camera. This here is one of only four in the world," Langdon said. The unit, Langdon explained, is "basically like a live-action camera."

He added: "Instead of having an animator do it, you can get in there - or a director with this camera can get in there - and actually physically get the shots that he wants to do. It doesn't look like a camera, because it doesn't need to. It's basically a screen with a bunch of buttons and controls on it."

Langdon added: "There are a couple different versions of the camera, and this is the latest version. This is actually the same camera technology version that James Cameron is using on Avatar. This has been developing over the past few years.

More Info on Virtual Camera Technology
By John Scott Lewinski | Excerpt:

Cinematic cut-scenes in the upcoming Resident Evil 5 videogame provide an advance look at the "virtual camera" technology being used by director James Cameron to shoot his 3-D sci-fi epic, Avatar.

The new virtual camera software offers filmmakers seemingly unlimited freedom in computer-generated storytelling.

It allows a director to move within a computer-generated 3-D environment, in and around CG actors whose infinitely looping performances have been created using standard motion-capture technology, taking shot after shot to his or her satisfaction.

Though actors only need to perform a scene once, it may be shot and reshot afterward hundreds of times in hundreds of ways.

The new virtual camera tools build on current CG technology, which lets engineers create any virtual environment -- a house, a battlefield, a spaceship, etc. -- and then use motion-capture tech to film the movement and performances of actors.

The performances are captured, right down to the actors' facial expressions, before rendering everything and placing the resulting virtual character into a created environment. Cameron, who directed sci-fi classics The Terminator and Aliens, can be expected to put the technology to good use in Avatar, his highly anticipated live-action/CGI sci-fi adventure, that is due to hit theaters in December. Actor and motion capture performer Reuben Langdon said the process of working with the virtual camera method is unlike any working experience he's had.

Avatar Soundtrack: 'exotic electronic sounds
and soundscapes mixed with orchestra'
By Tommy Pearson | Excerpt:

Tony Pearson: I was in LA last month, filming interviews with two of the most successful film composers around, John Williams and James Horner, as well as audio interviews with John Powell, Trevor Rabin, Elliot Goldenthal and Cliff Eidelman.

Those men represent very different generations of film composer: John Williams is the elder statesman of film music (he just turned 77 on Sunday, the day he won his 21st Grammy), who entered the business in the 1950s and learned his craft the traditional way.

Horner emerged in the late 70s/early 80s. Elliot Goldenthal and Cliff Eidelman both blasted onto the scene as the 80s turned into the 90s.

James Horner works in a traditional way, writing on manuscript paper and communicating themes to the director on the piano - he can afford to, he's James Horner. But actually, this year he's had to produce mock-ups for the very first time. When I visited him in LA a few weeks ago, Horner was working on the music for Avatar, James Cameron's latest sci-fi epic which will be geek heaven. He's worked with Cameron before, of course, most notably on Aliens and Titanic, which won Horner two Oscars.

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising Taps Mattel as Master Toy Licensee for James Cameron’s 'Avatar'


February 2009 - Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising has selected Mattel, Inc., the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of toys and family products, to develop a toy line inspired by one of the most anticipated films of the year -- James Cameron’s 'Avatar.'

Tapped as master toy licensee for the epic sci-fi film property, Mattel will create a line of action figures and vehicles scheduled to hit retail nationwide in October 2009, months in advance of the film’s release in December 2009.

Mattel’s 'Avatar' toy line will feature heroes, creatures and vehicles straight from the blockbuster film. Each action figure or vehicle will come with a 3D web tag, bringing a new level of interactivity to Mattel’s newest action play line.

Posthumans Go Hollywood! (Maybe.)
Are we finally going to get a posthuman mass culture? With movies like Surrogates and Avatar hitting theaters later this year, it may be now or never.
By Charlie Jane Anders | Excerpt:

Both Surrogates and Avatar feature posthuman heroes, in very different ways. And television's Lost is starting to look as though its protagonists are going to wind up evolving past their standard-issue humanity.

But Hollywood has tried to explore posthuman ideas in the past, but has either fallen flat or lapsed into standard "fear the other" tropes. But this time around, things may be different, because books have shown the way forward, and we need a new dose of optimism and escapism. Will posthumans finally conquer our screens? Maybe.

The big movie coming up which seems to have posthuman themes is James Cameron's long, long-awaited Avatar, where Terminator Salvation's Sam Worthington goes to a planet where humans can only interact with the natives by taking on quasi-alien surrogate bodies, or "Avatars." Worthington's character, a disabled ex-marine, is the perfect choice to inhabit one of these hybrid human-alien bodies. (This could be one of the first movies ever where a human becoming part alien, or having a part-alien body, is presented as a good thing rather than a monstrous bodily invasion, as in Cameron's's own Aliens.)

The Next Dimension
By Josh Quittner | Excerpt:

March 2009 - The lights dim in the screening room. Suddenly, the doomed Titanic fills the screen--but not the way I remember in the movie. The luxury liner is nearly vertical, starting its slide into the black Atlantic, and Leonardo DiCaprio is hanging on for life, just like always.

But this time, I am too. The camera pans to the icy water far below, pulling me into the scene--the sensation reminds me of jerking awake from a dream--and I grip the sides of my seat to keep from falling into the drink. Most of us have seen the top-grossing film of all time. But not like this. The new version, still in production, was remade in digital 3-D, a technology that's finally bringing a true third dimension to movies. Without giving you a headache.

Had digital 3-D been available a dozen or so years ago when he shot Titanic, he'd have used it, director James Cameron tells me later. "But I didn't have it at the time," he says ruefully. "Certainly every film I'm planning to do will be in 3-D." Digital 3-D, which has slowly been gaining steam over the past few years, is finally ready for its closeup. Just about every top director and major studio is doing it--a dozen movies are slated to arrive this year, with dozens more in the works for 2010 and beyond. These are not just animations but live-action films, comedies, dramas and documentaries.

Fan Fever Is Rising for Debut of ‘Avatar’
By Michael Cieply | Source:

April 2009, LOS ANGELES — In an old airplane hangar near the beach here, James Cameron has been working feverishly to complete a movie that may:

(a) Change filmmaking forever

(b) Alter your brain

(c) Cure cancer

For certain expectant movie fans, the answer might as well be all of the above. Eight months before its scheduled release on Dec. 18, Mr. Cameron’s “Avatar,” a science-fiction thriller filmed with his own specially devised 3-D technology, is stirring up a kind of anticipation that until now had been reserved for, say, the Rapture.

In a statement Fox said: “Jim Cameron is breaking new ground with this film. Like all movie fans, the studio is excited by the prospect of such an original piece of entertainment.”In a brief interview reported by The Associated Press in December, Mr. Cameron said he was worried that “Avatar” could not live up to the expectations that were building around it. “Whatever they think it’s going to be, it’s probably not,” he said at the time about those who were speculating about the movie on the Internet and elsewhere.

Yet Mr. Cameron has done his share to feed the hype with his repeated assurances that a coming wave of 3-D cinema (yes, it still requires glasses) would have the power to penetrate the brain in a way that movies never have.Some fans believe that Mr. Cameron and his colleagues have finally crossed the “uncanny valley.” That is a supposed point at which a viewer’s responsiveness to a simulated human takes a sudden drop into revulsion as the image comes close to reality but strikes the watcher as being zombielike, or not quite right.

“It was with me for days and days,” Dr. Mendez said. At ShoWest, a convention of movie exhibitors, a few weeks ago, Mr. Cameron in a short promotional video compared watching “Avatar” to “dreaming with your eyes wide open.” (It was a neat complement to those who have been viewing the movie in their sleep.) But, sooner rather than later, an increasingly restless group of the fans would like to sample the real thing. And that presents a conundrum for Fox, which will be hard pressed to release a conventional, 2-D trailer online — one of the most powerful ways to promote a movie these days — without undercutting the promise of a transcendental 3-D experience.

“I can’t believe they would spend 12 years developing the technology and telling us in words how great this is, then show us in 2-D,” said the webmaster of, an unofficial fan site devoted to the film.

Some fans are already teasing their peers about expecting too much. “You would think this movie cures cancer,” taunted a skeptical Danny Danger in his “movie preview extravaganza” on a MySpace blog in January. Typically, studios have given a peek at some of their biggest science-fiction and fantasy movies during the giant Comic-Con convention, an annual summer gathering of the fans in San Diego. But that also poses problems for “Avatar,” in that Comic-Con’s convention hall setting has not been equipped to showcase films in 3-D.

James Cameron: "We eliminated animation from animation"
The key is to be in control of the technology, not let it control you. . .
By James Dyer | Excerpt transcribed from Empire Magazine - 20th Anniversary Edition

James Cameron embarked on a series of expeditions that would make Magellan green with envy. He traveled beneath the waves to study the wreck of the Bismarck , charted a mountain range on the ocean floor and even returned to the skeletal carcass of Titanic. A trio of deep-sea documentaries resulted and boyhood fantasies were realized. But the real discovery wasn't the hidden secrets of Neptune 's garden, but rather something more mundane and eminently more practical.

Intent on bringing the deep and its inhabitants to life as realistically as possible, Cameron opted to shoot his last two documentaries in 3-D. The problem, when you're in a cramped submarine four kilometers beneath the se, is that there isn't enough room to swing a cat, let alone an IMAX camera. If you think IMAX screens are large, we suggest you take a look at the rigs used to shoot for it: hulking, unwieldy monstrosities that would look more at home bolted to Megatron's shoulder than crushing cameramen under their enormous bulk.

"The camera simply would not fit in the craft!" says Cameron with a grin. "There was just now ay. So we started looking at alternatives. My idea was literally to slap two HD cameras side-by-side and blow the footage up to IMAX. And that's exactly what we did." The result was the prototype Reality Camera System - a compact and far more versatile tool with which to shoot three dimensional film.

This new toy opened up a world of possibilities for filmmakers - you can thank him for such immersive wonders as Hannah Montana 3-D and the Jonas Brothers Concert Experience - but for Cameron himself, the technology had a far more personal significance. With his Fusion camera and recent strides in visual effects, he realized it was finally time to return to features films and un-box a dream he'd been sitting on since the mid-90's. A dream called Avatar.

Conjured up back in 1995, Avatar was always intended to be the follow-up to Titanic. It was a glimpse into an alien world spun from the imagination of a man who had routinely devoured pulp sci-fi like Edgar Rice Burroughs' series on his hour-long bus ride to school.

The project began life as an 80-page 'scriptment' about a disable ex-Marine who joins an expedition to strip-mine a far-flung world called Pandora. Aside from an intricate, and very alien, ecosystem with predators large and small.

Cameron's idea revolved around a race of indigenous, sentient aliens called the Na'vi. Nine feet tall, blue skinned and feline in appearance, they would need to be entirely computer-animated yet interact seamlessly with the live action.

It's easy, looking back from the warm glow of a world where such things are commonplace, to wonder what all the fuss was about. But in 1995, pre-Gollum, Davy Jones or even Jar Jar Binks, the whole endeavor was fraught with problems.

"When I made Terminator I was just looking for a low-budget movie I could direct myself," says Cameron. "With Avatar I literally set out to craft a story that would push my effects company at the time. Digital Domain, to the forefront of visual effects. Unfortunately, when I brought it in to everybody with my tail wagging, they said, "There's just no way we can do this... probably not for another ten years.'"

Imagination overreaching the available technology is something Cameron was already familiar with. The Abyss pushed CG envelope with its seamless pseudo pod sequence, while Terminator 2 created an iconic character in its oozing, liquid-metal villain, realized through the use of groundbreaking morphing effects. With Avatar, though, the obstacle was seen as insurmountable, for the time being at least.

From the AIF Breakthrough Awards, Cameron discusses Avatar and Worthington
Video reporting: Sal Morgan | Source:

The Dish Rag's intrepid Red Carpet Guerrilla caught up with acclaimed director James Cameron at the Australians in Film awards Friday night. He talked about his groundbreaking new film, "Avatar," the special effects and the risk of casting Aussie newcomer Sam Worthington, who also stars in "Terminator Salvation." Cameron was there to present the AIF Breakthrough Award -- fittingly, a yellow boomerang -- to Sam. Later, he told the audience about the moment he decided to cast Sam. "We were making a $200 million-plus movie and it's all about the journey of one guy, Jake, and he’s in every scene in the film, from beginning to end."

Reporter: 'Is it going to be as exciting as Titanic?'

Cameron: 'It's a very very different film. It's a fantasy-science fiction film - kind of epic adventure that takes place in another world and you will feel like you've been to that world. Sam is able to create a character that allows you in, that allows you to walk in his shoes. He's so good at communicating his emotions without appearing to do anything. That's the amazing thing.

It's a very challenging film for him because he played part of it as his human self. Then his Avatar, which is a fleshly character, but played entirely thru performance capture. That was a frontier for both of us. Sam's kind of similar to me in that he will throw himself into it and that's what it took. It took us awhile to figure it out how to do it.'

New Space Superstar Zoe Saldana Compares
The Visions Of ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Avatar’
By Larry Carroll | Source:

Zoe Saldana is sci-fi’s newest leading lady, having scored herself the lead role in two of the most highly-anticipated, big-budget sci-fi flicks of 2009.

After taking on the space frontier as Uhura in J.J. Abrams’s remake of “Star Trek,” and playing Neytiri in James Cameron’s ten-years-in-development vision “Avatar,” Saldana recently dished about what is was like to work with two of Hollywood’s most innovative filmmakers – as well as two upcoming movies that seem certain to be out of this world.

“It’s amazing for an actor to work with J.J. and Jim,” Saldana gushed. “They are similar in that they are exquisite at what they do, and they are young at heart.”

When comparing the two A-list directors, Saldana said: “J.J. has made a very important place for himself in Hollywood by being an exquisite writer. And Jim has done the same by being an amazing voyager and visionary, and a great filmmaker.” Of the Oscar-winning Cameron, Saldana said he is the true Captain Kirk. “He goes where no man has gone before.” We’ve seen his vision of an indestructible “Terminator” and deadly “Aliens,” and now Cameron is hoping to once again take us into new territory with his top-secret “Avatar.”

Selling 'Avatar'
James Cameron's Avatar opens this December, yet the
marketing blitz hasn't even begun. Will the film succeed?
By Gary Gentile | Excerpt:

June 2009 - Less than six months from now, one of the most highly-anticipated films in years will hit theaters - the 3D movie Avatar, from Aliens director James Cameron.

But you’d hardly know it from the complete lack of marketing in theaters, on television or in print.

Twentieth Century Fox and Cameron have been oddly silent in a world where hype is the main currency. The director recently showed 24 minutes of footage to a trade show crowd in Amsterdam, the first glimpse of the film Cameron announced he was working on as far back as 1996.

The film is slated to open December 18. But experts say the lack of advertising for the movie won’t hurt. In fact, it may even be part of the strategy to keep a lid on the movie as long as possible. “Does a film need to be pushed ad nauseum in the months in-between? I'd argue that it does not,” says Bryan Laurel, director of marketing for the Harkins Theater chain, based in Arizona. “There's a risk of turning people off if they have seen six versions of a trailer over the course of six months. They feel like they have already seen the film by the time opening day arrives.”

Cinema Expo 2009

THR on Cinema Expo 2009:
Avatar Extended Footage 'Expected'
By Carl DiOrio | Excerpt:

June 2009 - Program highlights set for Tuesday include a Fox slate presentation that's expected to feature extended clips from Jim Cameron's "Avatar," a 3-D scifi tentpole scheduled for release around the world in December.

Other Cinema Expo events reported by THR: Fox also will screen its 3-D summer three-quel "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," and Sony will show its Katherine Heigl/Gerard Butler starring "The Ugly Truth." Paramount followed a high-energy slate presentation here Monday with a pair of screenings of its upcoming summer tentpole "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" at a local Imax theater.

Carl DiOrio of reports: (Excerpt) "The future's so bright I gotta wear shades!" James Cameron cried Tuesday as he strode onto a stage -- with his 3-D glasses on." The fittingly epic film promo literally added an extra dimension to Fox's presentation at the ongoing Cinema Expo. Fox film chairman Jim Gianopulos also greeted the clearly wowed exhibs at the RAI convention center auditorium. "Three years ago, I stood up here and said the 3-D renaissance is coming," Cameron said. "And from what we've seen in the business, we can now say it has arrived."

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