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Avatar is a science fiction adventure film written and directed by James Cameron and produced by Jon Landau. It stars Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver. It was made by Lightstorm Entertainment and released by 20th Century Fox on December 18, 2009. It is the first installment in the planned film series of five films.

The film is set in the year 2154 on Pandora, a fictional Earth-like moon in a distant planetary system. Humans, who have depleted their planet's natural resources, are engaged in mining Pandora's reserves of a precious mineral vital to the economy known as unobtanium, while the Na'vi, the race of humanoids indigenous to the moon, resist the colonists' expansion which threatens the continued existence of the Na'vi and the Pandoran ecosystem. The film's title refers to the remotely controlled, genetically-engineered human-Na'vi bodies used by the humans to interact with the indigenous population.

Plot

Note: This plot summary covers scenes from the Extended Collector's Edition and the Remastered version from 2022.

Jake's life on Earth

City view

Earth in the year 2148.

In the year 2148, Earth has become overpopulated with over 20 billion humans and its resources rapidly depleting, with pollution, famine, poverty, and war. Jake Sully is a 22-year-old ex-marine paralyzed from the waist down due to wounds sustained in combat. He is living in a literal one-room dilapidated apartment resembling a prison cell. Jake is forced live out his life in a wheelchair because veteran benefits are not enough to pay for a spine surgery, especially in his highly inflated economy. Earth is suffering from an energy crisis and the residents of Jake's city wear masks to combat its air pollution.

Jake bar fight

Jake fighting the man in the bar

One night, Jake starts a bar fight with a man who strikes a woman. After breaking up the fight, the bouncers throw Jake out into the street, with one even throwing his wheelchair at him. Jake is approached by two Resources Development Administration (RDA) agents who confirm his identity and inform him that his identical twin brother, Tom Sully, has been killed by a robber.

The agents take Jake to a crematorium where he is shown Tom's body, and Jake laments his brother is dead due to someone wanting paper in his wallet. The agents mention Tom was one of the selected few scientists chosen to participate in the Avatar Program and one of even fewer avatar drivers. Tom had trained on Earth for three years in preparation for Pandora and controlling his avatar. Since Jake is genetically identical to his brother, he can link with the avatar, saving the RDA the cost of creating a new one. Jake agrees to take over his brother's contract and is put in cryosleep for the trip to Pandora.

Arrival on Pandora

Hell's Gate HD

Jake arrives at Hell's Gate on Pandora.

In 2154, arriving from the six-year journey to Pandora, Jake awakes from cryosleep with hundreds of other personnel to work at the human colony on this inhabited moon of Polyphemus, one of three fictional gas giants orbiting Alpha Centauri A. In the RDA's facility Hell's Gate, Jake attends a briefing led by Colonel Miles Quaritch, a hardened and seasoned military veteran who is in charge of security on the colony. Quaritch welcomes the new personnel and military soldiers and briefs them on Pandora. It is mostly covered with lush rainforests and wildlife, and home to the Na'vi, a race of tall blue-skinned humanoids.

Parker with Unobtanium

Parker Selfridge reminds Grace how the RDA only really cares about unobtanium for its profit value.

Jake is introduced to Norm Spellman, a biologist who arrived on the same rotation of personnel as he did. He also meets Dr. Max Patel, who connects the avatars, and Dr. Grace Augustine, a botanist as well as the leader of the Avatar Program. Using the avatars, Grace and her team have made some considerable progress learning about the natives' language and culture. Grace is displeased with RDA administrator Parker Selfridge's decision to use Jake to replace his brother's avatar position. Parker stresses that Grace's science is being paid for by the extremely profitable mineral unobtanium, so she should suck it up and give the RDA some good results from the Avatar Program. Upon meeting Jake, Grace is very standoffish due to her disdain of soldiers, but implores Jake to begin making his own video logs to document his journey.

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Jake awakens in his avatar which lets him walk again.

On the day Jake links with his avatar, things go dangerously due to Jake being ecstatic about being able to walk again, causing the scientists to become so concerned they attempt to tranquilize him. He runs outside the compound and enjoys sprinting, causing the scientists to drop their pursuit. Jake then meets with Grace who appears much happier in her avatar form. That night, Jake looks at his queue, a sensitive part of his avatar body that is located at the tip of a long appendage connected to his head (at the end of his "ponytail") that plays an important role in Pandora's ecosystem. After Grace tells him not to play with it or he will "go blind", Jake falls asleep in the avatar compound.

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Quaritch offers to pay for Jake's spinal surgery if he provides intel on the Na'vi

The next day, Jake meets Trudy Chacón, a retired Marine pilot who is assigned to work with the Avatar Program. Upon hearing that Trudy could use someone else on her Samson's door gun, Jake volunteers. Jake is then directed to Quaritch who convinces Jake to become his informant to gather information on the Na’vi and their home, the Hometree, which has huge deposits of unobtanium buried deep below its surface. He wants Jake to gain their trust and convince them to leave their home within three months. Jake agrees when Quaritch offers to pay for his spinal surgery so that he no longer has to use a wheelchair.

Bullet holes

Jake notices bullet holes in the school.

After being trained for several weeks in his new body, Jake, Grace and Norm explore the native wildlife with Trudy. The team explores an abandoned school house where Grace taught young Na'vi English. Grace reminiscences over how intelligent the children were and feels sad upon seeing the unused books scattered on the floor such as The Lorax. Norm asks Grace why the Na'vi don't return and she replies that they learned as much about humanity as they needed to. Jake notices bullet holes and asks Grace what happened at the school, but she dodges the question.

While Grace and Norm study the wildlife, Jake encounters a group of hammerhead titanotheres, a rhinoceros-like animal species. However, the titanotheres flee from a thanator, a terrifying land predator. Grace shouts at her group to flee. Jake runs from the thanator, who is after him, and loses most of his equipment and weapon in the process. He narrowly escapes death from the predator and falls into raging rivers below.

Living with the Omatikaya

Pandora-atokirina

Neytiri witnesses the woodsprites resting on Jake.

As darkness falls, Jake creates a fire torch using a sap substance on the trees, and once more runs and fights a large group of small sized viperwolves. A Na'vi named Neytiri rescues him and kills several of the viperwolves before they all flee. She is at first angry with Jake for having caused her to kill the viperwolves needlessly and leaves him. Jake goes after Neytiri, who tells him not to follow as she knows he is an avatar hybrid - a dreamwalker from the Sky People (humans). However, jellyfish-like creatures known as woodsprites briefly float on Jake, amazing Neytiri who explains that they are the seeds of Eywa, a spiritual and also physical biological entity that the Na'vi revere. Neytiri takes it as a sign that Jake may have a pure spirit, and tells him to follow her. Jake is caught by her fellow Na’vi, one of them being Tsu'tey, Neytiri's betrothed and next in line to be the clan leader. Neytiri defuses the situation by telling her clanmates that she witnessed a sign from Eywa, and this matter is for the clan's Tsahìk.

Meeting Eytukan and Mo'at, the leaders of the Omatikaya clan, who are also Neytiri's parents, Jake presents himself as a warrior "dreamwalker", a term the Na’vi used to call the avatar hybrids, with his intention to learn from them. Eytukan and Mo’at agree to teach Jake, making a reluctant Neytiri his tutor. From that day on, Jake spends his time learning the ways and culture of the Na’vi warriors, while jumping back to his original human body to report to Parker and Quaritch on information regarding the Na'vi. Grace arranges the movement of the avatar team to a remote camp in the Hallelujah Mountains after finding out from Max Patel that Jake has been having regular communications with Quaritch about the Na'vi.

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Jake and Neytiri during Iknimaya

In his avatar form, Jake follows Tsu'tey, Neytiri, Saeyla and Ka'ani to Mons Veritatis. Here, he completes a rite of passage known as Iknimaya where he learns how to bond using his queue and control his flying mountain banshee whom he names Bob, while gaining respect and admiration from the Na’vi, his relationship with Neytiri continuing to grow, but also earning the jealousy and annoyance of Tsu'tey who begins to view Jake as stealing his future mate from him. Neytiri also tells Jake about the great leonopteryx as well as Toruk Makto, and how her great-great-grandfather was one of the few Na'vi able to ride one.

Grace and Children

Grace happy to be reunited with the Na'vi children

Jake becomes somewhat addicted to being an avatar, causing Grace to force his human body to keep eating so that he does not become anorexic. Grace tells Jake about how she taught the Na'vi children for ten years, including Neytiri and her sister Sylwanin, and how they viewed Grace like a mother. Grace reveals the RDA shot Sylwanin to death after she destroyed a bulldozer when she was angry about the RDA's deforestation. Because Grace was exiled from interacting with the clan due to this incident, Jake is able to persuade Mo'at and Eytukan to let Grace back in, causing her great happiness when she returns to the Hometree to reunite with her students.

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Jake and Neytiri become lovers.

Reporting back to Quaritch, the Colonel wants Jake to begin his plan to convince the clan to leave the Hometree, but Jake is now reluctant and wary of the RDA's desire to exploit the moon's resources. He tells Quaritch that he will attempt to convince the clan once he is made part of the People, a ceremony granting the greatest honor to an avatar. That night, Jake undergoes the ceremony where Eytukan considers him as one of their own and made part of the People, with Grace and Neytiri looking on. Jake is now part of the Omatikaya clan, and Neytiri takes Jake to the Tree of Souls where they hear the voices of her ancestors. Neytiri also explains he can choose to have a mate if he wishes, although his mate would also have to choose him as well. He and Neytiri choose each other and spend the night mating, and to the Na'vi, this means they are bonded for life. When Jake awakens as a human, he finds himself dumbfounded at his own actions, as he is now a couple with an alien.

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Jake destroying one of the bulldozer's cameras.

When Jake and Neytiri awake, they encounter several bulldozers, sent by the RDA, destroying the nearby forests. In his attempt to stop them, Jake destroys one of the machine's camera arrays. Returning to the Hometree, Tsu'tey confronts him for mating with Neytiri. Before anything else can happen, Jake and Grace are suddenly sent back to their human bodies when soldiers sent by Quaritch arrive and open their link units to take them back by force. Quaritch and Parker have seen footage of Jake destroying the bulldozer's cameras and have checked his entry logs, indicating that the Na'vi refuse to leave their home. Grace tells Parker that the trees and plant life make up a huge network which connects the spiritual consciousness of all life, including the Na’vi, and must not be destroyed. Parker merely reacts with disbelief and thinks Grace has gone insane.

Dead RDA

One of the six RDA corpses killed by the Na'vi.

That night, Tsu'tey and other Na'vi set fire to the RDA bulldozers. In the morning, the RDA discovers the wreckage and sees that six of their men were killed by the Na'vi. Quaritch insists he will try a humane approach towards the evacuation of Hometree using tear gas which Parker approves. Grace is upset and she tells Jake how the RDA never cared about the Avatar Program and that they bulldozed a sacred site on purpose to initiate a war in order to justify further brute force. Trudy tells Grace about the impending Hometree evacuation, causing Grace to confront Parker about them using violent methods to potentially kill the Na'vi. Jake convinces Parker to give him and Grace a final chance to persuade the Na'vi.

Destruction of the Hometree

Neytiri cries

Neytiri horrified by her father's death after Hometree is bombed.

Jake and Grace return to their avatar forms but the Na'vi refuse to listen after Jake reveals he was sent by his superiors to convince them to move. They are bound and labelled as traitors by the Na'vi who intend to defend themselves. A large strike force led by Quaritch attempts using tear gas first, but this causes the Na'vi to shoot back using arrows. In response, Quaritch authorizes incendiary rounds which topple Hometree to the ground, killing large numbers of the clan underneath. Mo’at releases Jake and Grace from their bonds and pleads them to save her clan. Eytukan is killed in the destruction by a sharp piece of wood, leaving Neytiri devastated. She tearfully rejects Jake when he tries to comfort her. Back at the RDA, Parker tells his crew to deactivate the avatars by Quaritch's force, which starts causing a fight in the lab.

Hometree Destroyed HD

Jake observes the destruction site.

In the chaos, Jake and Grace are sent back to their original bodies to be placed under arrest for treason, along with Norm, who tried to stop the military from disabling their avatar forms. Max and Trudy, who are sympathetic to the Na'vi and brave enough to rebel against the RDA, rescue the avatar team from prison and flies them to safety, however Grace is shot by Quaritch when he attempts to stop them from leaving the colony. The team has the camp container holding the avatar transfer pods sent near the Tree of Souls, where the remaining Omatikaya clan has fled to safety. Jake attempts to redeem himself in the eyes of the Na’vi and successfully tames and controls a great leonopteryx, making him the sixth Toruk Makto. Jake arrives to the clan on the creature, impressing Neytiri as it means he risked his life to aid the Na'vi.

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Grace Augustine dies.

Jake makes a plea to Mo’at to save Grace from dying. This is done by trying to have her consciousness transferred permanently into her avatar form, using the Tree of Souls, before her human body expires. However, it is too late, as Grace is too weak to be transferred. Before she dies, she tells Jake that she's seen Eywa and she does exist. Following Grace's death, he asks Tsu’tey, who has been made clan leader, and the entire clan to stand with him and face the humans. Having earned back the clan's trust, Jake makes plans to join with other clans to strike back at the human forces.

Battle of Ayram Alusìng

Surveying the Na’vi, Quaritch learns that other clans have converged with the Omatikaya at the Tree of Souls and decides to destroy them and their holy ground to put an end to their defiance once and for all. The night before the battle, Jake prays to Ewya at the Tree of Souls to fight alongside the Na'vi, asking her to look into Grace's memories of Earth. Neytiri tells Jake that Eywa does not choose sides, protecting only the balance of life.

War

Na'vi and humans killing each other during the RDA's assault on the Tree of Souls.

A huge military fleet commandeered by Quaritch approach the Tree of Souls, beginning the assault on the Tree of Souls. Thousands of Na’vi warriors led by Jake and Tsu’tey take to the skies and attack the fleet, causing huge losses on both sides. Neytiri is knocked off her banshee and flees the military ground forces, while Norm's avatar is shot, forcing him to jump back to his real body and continue the fight as a human. Tsu’tey makes a valiant attempt to take down the shuttle carrying the explosives, but is shot and falls to the forest below. Trudy makes a valiant attempt to protect Jake from Quaritch's Dragon, but is outgunned and killed.

When all things seem bleak, the native wildlife of Pandora strikes back in force, seemingly responding to Jake's earlier plea to Eywa for help. The ground and aerial troops are scattered by the wildlife, while the shuttle carrying the explosives is destroyed before it reaches the Tree of Souls. During the wildlife's attack on the ground, a thanator approaches Neytiri and offers her to ride it. She accepts by bonding with it.

Neytiri saves Jake

Neytiri kills Quaritch using two arrows, saving Jake.

Jake manages to bring down Quaritch's gunship, but the Colonel enters his AMP suit and escapes the ship's destruction. Finding the camp containing the avatar pods by chance, Quaritch attempts to destroy Jake's body but Neytiri and her thanator attack him. However, Quaritch kills the thanator with his AMP and is about to kill Neytiri when Jake arrives to challenge him. Full of hatred at Jake, Quaritch refuses to give up the battle despite Jake's claim the RDA has already lost, and calls Jake a race traitor. As they fight, Jake destroys the AMP's life support and canopy but is caught in the mech's grip. Neytiri saves Jake by planting two arrows into Quaritch's chest, killing the Colonel.

Neytirisaves

Neytiri sees Jake's human body for the first time.

The camp shack and Jake's avatar bed was damaged during Quaritch's attack and leaks deadly Pandoran air, leaving Jake's human body in danger from the poisonous air. Jake wakes up in his human body and tries to grab the nearby rebreather unit, but he accidentally falls onto the floor and begins to suffocate. Neytiri is able to find Jake, but it appears he has already suffocated to death. She helps him put on his exopack, just managing to save his life before he perishes. At this moment, Jake says to Neytiri "I See you", the traditional Na'vi greeting. Neytiri sheds tears of joy and says it back to him. The words take on an entirely new meaning as Jake is in his human form.

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A dying Tsu'tey passes his leadership onto Jake.

After the battle had ended in victory for the Na'vi, Tsu'tey is found bleeding heavily by a group of surviving Na'vi warriors who brought Jake and Neytiri to him. Tsu'tey, knowing that his death was imminent, passed on leadership of the Omatikaya clan to Jake before making him draw his knife and demanding that he end his suffering. Jake refused, but Tsu'tey proudly reassured him that he would be remembered because Jake, as Toruk Makto, would be his last shadow. He showed his respect for Jake by calling him a brother. Reluctantly, Jake granted Tsu'tey his last request and mercifully killed him. Jake then recited a prayer for Tsu'tey, wishing his spirit to become one with Eywa as Neytiri and the other warriors looked on in grief.

The Evcuation

The Na'vi and their human sympathizers forcing the RDA off Pandora.

Having put an end to the military's attack, the Na'vi round up the remaining RDA personnel, which is approximately 90% of them,[2] to be sent back to Earth. However, a select group will stay with them on Pandora, specifically the Na'vi sympathizers, which includes Jake, Norm, Max, the avatar team and many other RDA defectors. While on the RDA's way out, Selfridge briefly walks out of the line and approaches Jake. Although Neytiri draws her blade at Selfridge, Jake allows him to speak. Selfridge merely asks "You know this isn't over?" but Jake does not answer, only giving him a look to keep walking.

Jake Eyes HD

Jake awakens as one of the Na'vi.

Jake decides to stay in his avatar form forever, and concludes his final entry video log of his experiences on his birthday. Returning to the Tree of Souls, he undergoes the consciousness transfer from his human body to his avatar form; Neytiri kisses his human body's shut eyelids. Jake then awakens to a new life as a Na'vi, showing he was able to pass through the eye of Eywa.

Cast

Humans

Na'vi

Development

Early inspirations

The ideas for many elements in the film date back to James Cameron's early life. While in 11th grade, he did a pen drawing entitled "Spring on Planet Flora". It depicts the jungle environment of an alien world with a human figure in a spacesuit walking on one of many gigantic trees, which have interconnected branches and are overgrown by vines and epiphytes.[3]

Lichen And Jake

The glowing nightlife of Pandora was inspired by a dream James Cameron had as a teenager

The concept for Avatar stems back to a dream James Cameron had when he was 19, and at Fullerton Junior College. According to Cameron, the dream featured a bio-luminescent forest, with "lizards that didn't look like much until they took off." When he woke up, he drew it. Reportedly, the drawing has saved Cameron from about ten lawsuits pertaining to the film.[4]

In 1973, James Cameron wrote a story named "Absense" for a college project which evolved into a short film script titled "Chrysalis" in 1974. The script tells the story of a wheelchair-bound man who has all sensory input surgically removed and undertakes an inward journey across an alien landscape to eventually rise from his chair after repairing his own central nervous system.[3]

In the late 1970s, James Cameron worked as a co-writer on Xenogenesis, in which he further explored his earlier ideas. The script features a mile-long spaceship with fusion ramjet drive unit. With Earth at the brink of destruction, scientist try to find a new planet for humanity. The ship carries cell samples which an artificial intelligence would develop into cloned individuals once a suitable planet has been found. The protagonists experience exotic, danger-filled alien landscapes on different planets with bizarre flora and fauna, and take samples. Pandora was modeled after one of these planets, the Luminous Planet, which itself is sentient. It has a beautiful forest with a vast network of interconnected, bioluminescent trees, a glowing river, and a deadly atmosphere. The script also describes moss that glows with a violet light at nighttime, little ripples of light that expand at the impact of the protagonists' feet on the ground, a small, black lizard-like creature with orange and ultramarine spinning discs that unfold upon contacting a limb of the creature (Fan Lizard), a small flying creature which resembles a butterfly-sized dandelion seed with gently swaying filaments which lands of the female character's hand (Woodsprite), an "air shark" with distensible jaws and glassy dagger-like teeth (Mountain Banshee), and a "hybrid of a fiber optics lamp, a sea anemone and a willow" (Tree of Voices). These willow-like trees gravitate toward the female lead as she passes by and two characters kiss beneath the tendril trees. The planet reacts to the arrival of the protagonist by immobilizing him with creeper-like tendrils from the surrounding plants that embrace him, an idea that was re-used towards the end of Avatar when Grace Augustine's and later Jake's human bodies were placed under the Tree of Souls for their respective consciousness transfers.

Cameron produced a pencil sketch for Xenogenesis titled "Exploring the exotic environment of a luminous planet". The sketch shows a male and female character on an alien planet, a tree with a spiral shape and a spaceship in the background. The tree in the drawing became the basis for the helicoradian, and the "brain coral floor" went on to become the basis for the area around the Tree of Souls. Cameron also made a series of paintings, showing "jagged, vertical mountains or cliffs wreathed by clouds and mist". These paintings contain "material that was not used in the Avatar film but may be used in Avatar sequels".

Cameron-Jellyfish

Male protagonist in Xenogenesis after he has been captured by the large floating jellyfish-like creature; James Cameron concept, c.1978

A first draft of the Avatar script contained a similar scene as depicted in the concept art image of Xenogenesis (depicted right), where the protagonist gets captured by a jellyfish-like creature named "aerocoelenterate". Another painting for the project features a spaceship called "Cosmos Kindred" with a long central truss, engines glowing red with heat separated by a long boom from the habitability module in front, and cryo-capsules used for suspended animation. It became the basis for the Interstellar Vehicle Venture Star. A walking machine called "spider" was another painting Cameron did. A fight sequence using a physical model was filmed as short film of a small portion of the Xenogenesis script. The "spider" eventually became the basis for the AMP suit.[3]

Princess Mononoke

The 1997 film Princess Mononoke served as inspiration

James Cameron openly admits Avatar was inspired by Dances with Wolves and does not try to hide it, saying, "Yes, exactly, it is very much like that." Cameron believes Avatar does enough different in its details to stand on its own. He believes the sci-fi take on a familiar classic story about someone experiencing a different culture is what makes Avatar interesting and enjoyable, commenting regarding the audience, "They're not just sitting there scratching their heads, they're enjoying it and being taken along. And we still have turns and surprises in it, too, things you don't see coming."[5] The anime film Princess Mononoke also partially inspired life on Pandora, and contains elements of "man versus nature".[6] Cameron also took inspiration from Indian mythology for the film.[7]

Full production

When we were making Avatar, when we started it, we naturally assumed it would be somewhat successful because it had the elements people like, you know, fantastic environments and good characters and a love story. But then as we got deeper into the production, and it became one of the highest costing films of all time, there was genuine concern that it would never break even, that it would never make money. And we had a very difficult post production, because the film was too long and I wound up editing the film for over a year, and we took out about 45 minutes of film. And I think at the moment we released the film, we still believed it was too long. Once it came out, it was clear the film for most viewers was too short, they wanted more of that world.

- James Cameron in a Reddit post[8]

Avatar itself was in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote a 114-page scriptment for the film known as Project 880. He wrote the script from a ranch he owned in California.[9]

James Cameron originally attempted to get the film released in 1999 as his immediate follow-up to Titanic (1997), and filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Titanic. However, at the time, the special effects he wanted for the movie ran the proposed budget up to $400 million, and he also felt technology needed to catch up with his vision of the film. No studio would fund the film, and it was subsequently shelved for almost ten years.

Seeing the character of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) convinced James Cameron that CGI visual effects had progressed enough to make Avatar. Cameron had the choice to make Alita: Battle Angel or Avatar, and went with Avatar.

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Concept art of the Na'vi before their feline inspiration.

The look of the Na'vi was inspired by a dream that Cameron's mother had, long before he started work on Avatar, in which she saw tall blue people. Visual artists were conflicted about the look of the Na'vi and how alien they should appear; they ended up removing elements such as gills in order to make them still be physically appealing to most people.[10]

When Cameron showed his script to 20th Century Fox executives, they asked him to tone down the "tree-hugging, Ferngully stuff" in it. However, Cameron stood his ground, saying the environmental conscious themes were integral to the storyline of Avatar, and he was determined to create a mainstream movie focused around it. For example, the destruction of Hometree is meant to symbolize the damage of Earth caused by humankind.[11]

In early 2006, James Cameron developed the script, the language, and the culture of Pandora. A CGI prototype was also developed to showcase the CGI and motion capture technology.

Avatar-latimes

The first on-set image to be released with James Cameron and Sam Worthington.

The movie is 40% live action and 60% photo-realistic CGI. A large amount of motion capture technology was used for the CGI scenes. The process of facial tracking required the application of dots all over the actor's face. To apply the dots to the same positions every day, a face mold was used. The actor then had to go through a calibration process to verify that all dots were placed correctly. The markers were tracked by small cameras mounted to a helmet and placed in front of the face of the actor. The recorded marker movements were translated to the face of the respective CGI character to achieve natural-looking facial animations.[12]

The film is estimated to have cost over $300 million to produce, and another estimated $200 million for the distribution and other costs, thus totaling to about half a billion dollars. Avatar was touted as a breakthrough in terms of filmmaking technology for its development of 3D viewing and stereoscopic filmmaking with cameras that were specially designed for the film's production. About 1 petabyte of data accumulated during the production of the film.[13]

After the film was produced, issues arose again between Cameron and another Fox executive. who begged Cameron to shorten the film. Cameron was reluctant and replied, "I think this movie is going to make all the fucking money. And when it does, it’s going to be too late for you to love the film. The time for you to love the movie is today. So I’m not asking you to say something that you don’t feel, but just know that I will always know that no matter how complimentary you are about the movie in the future when it makes ALL THE MONEY. You can’t come back to me and compliment the film or chum along and say, ‘Look what we did together.’ You won’t be able to do that." The executive "went bug shit" on Cameron and Cameron told him to get the fuck out of the office.[4]

Release and editions

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Avatar - Official Trailer (HD) - 20th Century FOX

Trailer featuring the music "Guardians At the Gate" by Audiomachine

The film was released in traditional 2D and 3D formats, along with an IMAX 3D release in selected theaters. The film was rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and moderate tobacco usage.

There are three editions of the film: the theatrical edition, which was the version originally seen in theaters, as well as the special and extended collector's editions, which have additional scenes added. While all three have seen several home media releases, only the theatrical edition has been made available in 3D.

Theatrical Edition DVD / Blu-ray

Avatar Blu-ray

Blu-ray Edition

The theatrical version of the movie was released on April 22nd, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray. This was a bare-bones release, containing nothing in the way of special features.

Special Edition re-releases

On August 27, 2010, the special edition of the film was released to theaters. It included an extra 9 minutes of footage, and was only available in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D. Additionally, there was a second limited run of the special edition from September 16 2011 to October 13 2011 in Latin America and Asia Pacific exclusively. The following scenes and shots were added in the special edition:

  • Extended first flight over Pandora, with the team seeing a Sturmbeest herd. The animal was not featured in the original theatrical release.
  • Grace, Norm and Jake visit the Old School House. Grace tells Jake how it was closed: Sylwanin, along with several other Na'vi children, had burned an RDA bulldozer and fled to Grace's school seeking protection. RDA soldiers, however, followed the children to the school and opened fire. Despite Grace's best efforts to keep the Na'vi safe, Sylwanin and many others were killed and Grace herself was shot.
  • Extended bioluminescent jungle scene, during Jake's first night on Pandora.
  • The scene near the campfire is extended. Neytiri tells Jake her full name.
  • A scene is added after Jake, Grace, Trudy and Norm arrive at the remote base Site 26 in the Hallelujah Mountains. In this scene, it is explained why the mountains float.
  • Expanded fan lizard scene.
  • Expanded Iknimaya scene, with Neytiri flying past on Seze.
  • A sturmbeest hunt after Jake learns to ride an ikran (Jake kills one of these creatures with his bow from atop his ikran).
  • The mating scene is extended and shows Jake and Neytiri connecting their queues and the deep meaning that this act has for the Na'vi.
  • Another added scene is inserted after the destruction of the Tree of Voices by RDA bulldozers. Tsu'tey leads a war party against the RDA. The Na'vi attack the bulldozers and kill the human escorts, leaving the equipment destroyed and burning. Even the soldiers in AMP suits are killed. This scene shows Lyle Wainfleet reporting the scene of the attack to the Operations Center, where Miles Quaritch and Parker Selfridge observe the aftermath. It serves as the decisive moment for the RDA to destroy the Hometree.
  • Extended Hammerhead Titanothere attack scene during the battle.
  • Extended combat between Quaritch, Jake and Neytiri.
  • A scene near the end of the film where a mortally wounded Tsu'tey assigns the clan's leadership to Jake and orders him to end his agony. Jake unwillingly does so, and recites a prayer for him.

During its theatrical run, the movie grossed $2,781,132,032 worldwide including the Special Edition re-releases, surpassing Titanic as the highest-grossing film of all time, worldwide.

Extended Collector's Edition

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Extended Collector's Edition Blu-ray

Avatar-_Extended_Collector's_Edition-_On_Blu-ray-DVD_November_16

Avatar- Extended Collector's Edition- On Blu-ray-DVD November 16

The Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition, containing all three versions of the film and bonus content, was released on November 16th, 2010. It is a three disc set, containing behind the scenes material as well as deleted scenes. It contains a further seven minutes compared to the special edition and omitted two minor shots.

  • The Earth opening, in which Jake Sully attempts to intervene in a bar fight. He then witnesses his brother's funeral, and hears about his opportunity on Pandora.
  • An additional shot during the landing sequence.
  • Additional dialogue in the link room following Jake's first night in Hometree.
  • After months in the Na'vi part of his life, Jake starts to hate human food. Jake refuses to eat a microwave-heated burrito, a food considered by the Na'vi (in the script) as "food for larvae."
  • Additional dialogue ahead of the attack on the Hometree, with Grace musing about the situation. "You know, they never wanted us to succeed. They bulldozed the sacred site on purpose - to trigger a response. They're fabricating a war. They get what they want."

3D Blu-ray

A 3D version featuring the theatrical cut was also released on December 1st, 2010. This version was exclusively bundled with Panasonic 3D TVs and Blu-ray players, with customers who had purchased the relevant model from March 2010 onwards retroactively eligible for the free discs.[14] A general release was planned for Q1 of 2011, but the bundling period was extend by one year until early 2012.[15] Albeit for copies circulating on the internet, these discs were never made available for individual sale.

The 3D version of the movie was not made available for individual purchase until 2012 when a limited 3D edition was released. Like the bundled version, it only features the theatrical edition and was released on October 16, 2012.[16]

Disney+

Avatar Disney Poster

The film was released on the Disney+ streaming service on November 12th, 2019 along with its original trailer, a family edition adapted for younger audiences, and five behind-the-scenes featurettes. The logo on the title card for the film was officially changed from the original logo, modified from the popular "Papyrus" font to a newly designed custom one.[17]

The film was removed from Disney+ ahead of its 2022 theatrical re-release.

Theatrical re-release (China)

On March 12th, 2020, Avatar was re-released in theaters in China. It grossed a total of $57 million in additional revenue which placed it back at the top of the list of highest-grossing films of all time, surpassing Avengers: Endgame.[1]

2022 Theatrical re-release and remaster

Avatar Back in Theaters poster

Updated poster for the re-release

At Disney's CinemaCon 2022 presentation, it was announced that Avatar would be remastered and re-released for a fourth time on September 23, 2022. The trailer for the remaster was released online August 23, 2022, one day before Jake's canonical birthday and two days after the original "Avatar Day" in 2009. Shortly before the trailer's reveal, the film was quietly removed from Disney's streaming service, Disney+.

The re-release featured remastered picture and Dolby Atmos 9.1 surround sound. Visually, the film was upscaled to 4K resolution, with a higher level of detail and altered color grading. Select scenes were updated to play in high frame-rate (HFR). The audio was updated to feature high dynamic range (HDR) and Dolby Atmos 9.1 surround sound. The film was also available in 3D.

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The new scene with Parker where he intimidates Jake.

The re-release added one change to the standard theatrical cut: as the humans are leaving Pandora after the final battle, Neytiri confronts Parker Selfridge with her knife. Jake tells her to stay calm, and Parker remarks, "You know this isn't over, yet?" before continuing toward the shuttle. Otherwise, the re-release has identical scenes as the theatrical cut.

A preview of Avatar: The Way of Water also showed after the first credits of the re-release; three different scenes are chosen seemingly at random to play for audiences:

  • One of the Sully children playing in the ocean with children from the Metkayina clan
  • Jake and Neytiri's second-born son, Lo'ak, meeting and playing with Payakan the tulkun
  • A confrontation between the Sully family and the Metkayina clan leaders about Lo'ak befriending Payakan

The film was added back to Disney+ on November 21, 2022. The version of the film available on Disney+ remains the theatrical release, rather than the remaster.[18]

Ultimate Collector's Edition

Avatar Ultimate

Ultimate Collector's Edition

Avatar: Ultimate Collector's Edition is a 4K Blu-ray set released on June 20, 2023. It features the upscaled edits from the 2022 theatrical remaster, although it lacks the extended additional scenes from previous releases. This is the first time Avatar has been available physically in 4K, albeit upscaled using AI. It is a three-disc set; the first disc is the 4K disc, the second disc is a 1080p version, and the third disc features 3 hours of bonus features. The bonus features include:

  • Memories from Avatar: Jon Landau, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang recall warm memories from production and reflect on the film's success.
  • Avatar: A Look Back: Cast and filmmakers reflecting on creating the film, the new technologyies used and the film's impact.
  • Capturing Avatar: "Journey with James Cameron and crew in this documentary, as they embark on a film the likes of which the world has never seen
  • Featurettes: Explore Pandora's creation and the making of Avatar with 17 featurettes.

Collector's Edition

Avatar CE

Collector's Edition

Another 4K Blu-ray edition was released on December 19, 2023 known as the Avatar: Collector's Edition. The title can be seen as an ironic misnomer because this "Collector's Edition" release can be seen as being more definitive than the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" released half a year prior. This is a four-disc set featuring three different versions of the film, allowing viewers to select the theatrical release or the film with all extended scenes. The final disc is for bonus features.

Soundtrack

The music of Avatar was composed by James Horner. Avatar is the third and final collaboration between James Cameron and James Horner prior to Horner's death (the other two being 1986's Alien and 1997's Titanic).

James Horner also collaborated with ethnomusicologist Wanda Bryant. The two worked together to create unique music that sounded as if it was "never heard before"; Wanda Bryant looked into minority cultures for inspiration, collecting sound samples that felt otherworldly.

Leona_Lewis_-_I_See_You_Theme_from_Avatar

Leona Lewis - I See You Theme from Avatar

Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture was released on December 15, 2009. A promotional 3-disc set was also released. A 5-disc set referred to as Avatar: Complete Score was announced, but the set was leaked ahead of the launch and ultimately never released commercially.

A CD single of the song I See You performed by Leona Lewis was released on December 3, 2009.

Reception

Praise

Avatar received generally positive reviews, garnering 7.9 on IMDb and a 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.[19] Praise was directed to the film's worldbuilding, graphics and visuals, art design, music, dream-like qualities, as well as its environmental and spiritual themes about living harmoniously with nature and the connectivity of life. According to IMDb, men in general and women above the age of 45 are most likely to enjoy Avatar, while teenage girls are most likely to dislike the film. The film was also received extremely well in India.[20]

Jim Vejvoda of IGN gave Avatar a 9/10, saying "The running time and the overall formulaic nature of the story is what keeps me from giving Avatar a higher score. To say that I was pleasantly surprised by Avatar is an understatement. My advice to you is to forget all that you think you know or believe about Avatar."[21] Matthew Pejkovic of Matt's Movie Reviews felt the film has a spiritual quality to it and said, "Avatar provides the ultimate journey to a world unlike anything seen before it, with a deep spiritual core giving substance to its most impressive display of style... Avatar is not only a magnificent display of innovative filmmaking, but it is also a spiritually uplifting and imaginative cinematic experience." and gave it 4 and a half out of 5.[22]

James Cameron did not know that Avatar would become the most financially successful movie of all time, saying, "We didn't see this coming." Cameron believes the success of Avatar is the sum of its parts, and it can not be simplified to a single element such as its 3D or visuals or story. Cameron acknowledges that Avatar tells a fairly simple and easy to understand story, attributing its success to being able to be comprehended, resonating across all age demographics and cultures. He believes certain people's strong emotional response to the film created word-of-mouth, and also said Avatar was meant for women as well.[23] Cameron believes that much of the human race has an inherent connection to feel connected to nature, even if it is a subconscious desire, which many people do not receive.

Criticism

Richard Propes of The Independent Critic gave the film a C+ and complained the movie lacks story, and criticized the film's attention to detail with its CGI, calling it visually exhausting to watch, and said the film was forgettable.[24] Michelle Alexandria of Eclipse Magazine gave it a C, saying she felt the 3D was not impressive, and said she did not care about the characters or story, and despite that the film is an allegory for real-life genocide, war and the abuse of vulnerable groups, she claimed the story should have been more "cute" and "funny", complaining she felt the story takes itself too seriously. She felt Sam Worthington's performance as Jake was stiff and overall felt Avatar is a "big pile of meh."[25]

Long-time criticism of Avatar has created discourse over the years, as well as outright resentment and hatred towards the film, with many calling it overrated and questioning if the film deserved its financial success. Critics have also claimed Avatar lacks original ideas and is not much different from FernGully, Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and The Ant Bully. In defense, Cameron said that the idea of a major "going native" film being from the perspective of the "invaders" and the "aliens" (i.e. humans) has never really been done before.[citation needed]

Jake stays on Pandora forever

Jake changing his species to live on another planet

Another aspect of Avatar which may be considered original is the sheer amount of misanthropy the film exudes, especially for its time. The film does not shy away from showing the worst of humanity and portraying humans as corrupt and evil, to the degree it attempts to make viewers sympathize with Jake when he begins shooting up humans during the final battle. It can be argued that prior to 2009, there was not a lot of misanthropic media where the protagonist changes their own species to fight humanity and subsequently live on another planet (one exception being District 9 to a degree), and forces humans to return to a dying planet where humanity's ultimate fate is left ambiguous with possible extinction. It was a common trope for humans to be the victims and extraterrestrials to be the perpetrators (Alien, Signs, War of the Worlds, They Live, etc). Avatar flips the idea on the head to portray the Na'vi as being oppressed by the RDA.

Destroyed hometree

Hometree falls and burns due to humanity's actions, resulting in Na'vi being crushed to death under their ancestral home

One journalist felt "Avatar takes Cameron’s misanthropic perspective to a whole new level of anti-humanism."[26] Humans are also portrayed as overpopulated and destroying the Earth. James Cameron said the Na'vi are supposed to represent the better aspects of humanity (caring for the environment, respecting animals, trying to create a peaceful world, etc). He hopes audiences will aspire to be more like the Na'vi. He denies he is anti-human, saying most audiences have figured this message out, and said people who don't understand this message by now are pseudo-intellectual boneheads. He also mentions the fact that the Avatar films are successful at the box office is evidence people understand the message, and gives him faith in humanity.[27]

Jake wheelchair doll

A figure of Jake Sully in a wheelchair, inspiring children to empathize with disabled people

Another aspect that can be considered is the film's disability representation; prior to 2009, it can be argued there is a lack of media featuring disabled protagonists. While there are exceptions such as Forrest Gump, Avatar: The Last Airbender, for example, has Aang being the main protagonist instead of the blind Toph, even if she is a central character. In Avatar, Jake is clearly the protagonist given much screentime, and he also surprises Grace when he lifts himself, showing that he is more capable than she (as well as the audience) believe. Jake is also insulted by Fike and Wainfleet for being disabled, getting the audience to sympathize for Jake. Disability represented in Avatar has been both praised and criticized; for example, it can be noted Jake's wheelchair lacks a pressure cushion.[28] Some have also claimed Avatar is ableist because it portrays Jake as wishing he would rather not be disabled instead of being content with the way he is, as he wishes to obtain a spinal surgery, and he also nearly dies near the end because he is disabled. Jake also takes the opportunity to cure his disability in the ending.

Racism and cultural appropriation accusations

Cameronsnavisketch

Neytiri drawn by James Cameron.

Although Avatar is an attempt at trying to make viewers sympathize with Indigenous peoples, some viewers think it is a racist movie, or at least problematic, due to claims of James Cameron making the movie out of "white guilt", and creating it due to a supposed belief he has that Native Americans did not fight back hard enough against colonists. This is due to an old quote James Cameron once said:

"This was a driving force for me in the writing of 'Avatar' — I couldn't help but think that if they [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future… and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation… because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society — which is what is happening now — they would have fought a lot harder."

The use of the phrase "dead-end society" did not fare well with many. In Project 880, the original Avatar script written by Cameron, a line reads, "If the Navaho and the Sioux had known what was coming for them, they never would have made those treaties. They would have fought to the last man."

Other people claim the Na'vi "culturally appropriate" Indigenous people with their clothing and bows, and that Jake is a problematic protagonist due to being white and that the movie has a "white savior trope" which can send the problematic idea that people of color are unable to save themselves, and need a white "messiah" or a literal deity (Eywa) to save them. Some viewers wish Jake was portrayed as a young Native American man who rediscovers the spirituality of his own heritage through his interactions with the Na'vi.

Jake Rallying the Na'vi HD

Jake delivering the speech to the Na'vi rather than Neytiri, Mo'at or Tsu'tey

Jake becomes a revered figure to the Na'vi by becoming Toruk Makto, and some viewers feel Neytiri and the Na'vi seem to forgive Jake too easily. Jake is the one who delivers the motivational speech to the Na'vi instead of Neytiri, Tsu'tey or Mo'at, which some viewers feel is a missed opportunity that would have alleviated this interpretation. While well-intentioned, Jake may be seen as ordering the Na'vi around instead of inviting them to his idea. Jake also says "this is our land!" which may be seen as going too far after the consequences his role brought to the Na'vi.

Cameron mentioned the film was intended to be seen as an allegory for a white man making amends for what settlers did to Indigenous peoples.[29] He also said "[Avatar] asks us to open our eyes and truly see others, respecting them even though they are different, in the hope that we may find a way to prevent conflict and live more harmoniously on this world. I hardly think that is a racist message."[30]

Wesstudi

Wes Studi portrays chief Eytukan

Cameron said there is a "fine line" to walk when it comes to celebrating existing cultures without appropriating them, but believes Avatar has always tried to honor minorities and not oppress them, featuring many actors of color such as Zoe Saldaña, Michelle Rodriguez, Wes Studi, CCH Pounder, Laz Alonso, Dileep Rao, and so forth. He commented, "I hope they see the intention, which is to celebrate the wisdom keepers. I see the Indigenous people that still remain in our world today as the people who are more connected to nature than we are in our industrialised urbanised civilization, and we need to learn from them. The movie is intended to celebrate those philosophies, that spirituality."[31]

In 2022, James Cameron apologized to anyone offended by the films and mentions he does not invalidate hurt feelings, saying, "If we offend anybody in the process, I can only apologise, but we're doing the best we can." "It is not up to me, speaking from a perspective of white privilege, if you will, to tell them that they're wrong. I have to listen. I have to say, "If that's what you're feeling, that's what you're feeling."

Box office

Opening to critical acclaim, Avatar earned an estimated $27 million on its opening day and an estimated $77,025,481 domestically its opening weekend. Worldwide, the film grossed an estimated $232,180,000 its opening weekend, the ninth largest opening-weekend gross of all time, and the largest for a non-franchise, non-sequel and original film.

Avatar is the first film to earn more than $2 billion (and $2.5 billion) worldwide at the box office, as Titanic earned $1.8 million prior to its re-release in 2012.

Avatar was the highest-grossing film of all time for 9 years until it was surpassed by Avengers: Endgame in 2019. Taking worldwide inflation into account, it ranked 2nd, behind only Gone with the Wind. With inflation in North America, it was ranked 15th.

Avatar later saw a re-release in China and retook the top spot of the highest-grossing film in March 2021.

Cultural impact

Entertainment Weekly

Neytiri and Jake on Entertainment Weekly.

Main article: Cultural impact of the Avatar franchise

It has become a sentiment by certain people over the years that Avatar has had no cultural impact, with some people going so far as to claim no one cares about Avatar, or implying that Avatar is a bad or meaningless movie due to supposedly having little to no cultural impact. However, an in-depth analysis about the film's cultural impact can be read here. For example, there have been a number of references to Avatar in other media. Avatar has also created new filmmaking techniques and popularized 3D technology.

Awards

Empire Awards

  • Best Movie (Winner)
  • Best Actress (Zoe Saldana)(Winner)
  • Best Director (James Cameron) (Winner)

Academy Awards

  • Art Direction (Winner)
  • Cinematography (Winner)
  • Directing (James Cameron) (Nominated)
  • Film Editing (Nominated)
  • Music (Score) (James Horner) (Nominated)
  • Best Picture (James Cameron and Jon Landau) (Nominated)
  • Sound Editing (Nominated)
  • Sound Mixing (Nominated)
  • Visual Effects (Winner)

British Academy Awards

  • Best Cinematography (Mauro Fiore) (Nominated)
  • Best Director (James Cameron) (Nominated)
  • Best Editing (Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron) (Nominated)
  • Best Film (Nominated)
  • Best Music (James Horner) (Nominated)
  • Best Production Design (Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair) (Winner)
  • Best Sound (Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Tony Johnson, Addison Teague) (Nominated)
  • Best Special Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones) (Winner)

Golden Globes

  • Best Motion Picture: Drama (Winner)
  • Best Director (James Cameron) (Winner)
  • Best Original Score (Nominated)
  • Best Original Song (Nominated)

Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA)

  • Best Picture (Nominated)
  • Best Director (James Cameron) (Nominated)
  • Best Cinematography (Winner)
  • Best Art Direction (Winner)
  • Best Editing (Winner)
  • Best Makeup (Nominated)
  • Best Visual Effects (Winner)
  • Best Sound (Winner)
  • Best Action Movie (Winner)

Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film (Winner)
  • Best Actor (Sam Worthington) (Winner)
  • Best Actress (Zoe Saldana) (Winner)
  • Best Director (James Cameron) (Winner)
  • Best Writing (James Cameron) (Winner)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Stephen Lang) (Winner)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Sigourney Weaver) (Winner)
  • Best Music (James Horner) (Winner)
  • Best Production Design (Winner)
  • Best Special Effects (Winner)

New York Critics Online

  • Best Picture (Winner)

Producers Guild Award

  • Best Picture (Nominated)

Director's Guild Award

  • Best Director (James Cameron) (Nominated)

Writer's Guild Award

  • Best Original Screenplay (James Cameron) (Nominated)


In other media

Books and comics

Thena'viquest

James Cameron's Avatar: The Na'vi Quest

James Cameron's Avatar: The Na'vi Quest is a novelization of Avatar written by Nicole Pitesa, however, it is only 58 pages long, is written for pre-teens in mind and only covers the first half of the film. Avatar 3D Annual 2011 is also a novelization of the whole film, although it is a bit short and mainly summarizes its events, rather than trying to give the reader new insight and backstory.

James Cameron intended to write a prequel novel exploring events such as Jake's time on Earth and Tom Sully's killer. However, in 2013, it was announced that Steven Gould would be hired to write four Avatar novels instead as part of a novel series. Nothing has currently become of this and it is possible these were quietly cancelled. In 2017, it was announced Penguin Random House would be working to release Avatar books, though any relation to a novel series is unclear. Despite this, Penguin published The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration in 2022.

A series of tie-in books provides in-depth information about the world that Avatar is set in, including Na'vi culture, Pandora, its flora and fauna, the RDA and production details. This includes James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide, The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration and an artbook called The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure.

Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path adapts the film's story into a six-issue comic book, however, the story is told from the perspective of Tsu'tey and not Jake Sully. Multiple other comics cover the time before and after the film.

Video games

Vayaha direhorse

The player riding a direhorse in the tie-in game

See also: Games category

There is a variety of video games titled James Cameron's Avatar: The Game. There are different versions of the game for the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS and mobile phones. They all tell different stories and they are all prequels to the film with the exception of Avatar: The Mobile Game which lets players play as Jake, although the story is a very loose adaptation of the film. Otherwise, their stories have little to do with the events of the actual film, instead showing the build-up of the RDA's activities on Pandora and feature Na'vi protagonists Rai'uk and Nok trying to oppose them.

Other versions are about humans Able Ryder and Ryan Lorenz who have their own avatars like Jake. Only a few characters such as Grace, Trudy and Quaritch appear in the games, although they act more as cameos. Neytiri's sister, Sylwanin, also has a greater role in the games. All of the 2009 video games were deemed non-canon in 2023.

Trivia

General

Eyes of Jake Sully

Jake opening his eyes.

Aerith eyes

Aerith in the opening of Final Fantasy VII

  • Avatar begins and ends with Jake opening his eyes. This is true in both cuts of Avatar, where Jake will open his eyes in the Earth or in the spaceship cryosleep pod, depend which version is watched. When Jake opens his eyes as a Na'vi, he is completely changed, both emotionally, spiritually, culturally and physically. Producer Jon Landau said this could be interpreted as a visual metaphor for the audience to open their eyes and, "to understand that our actions have an impact on both people around us and the world around us."[32]
    • Avatar shares a large amount of parallels with the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII (also discussed on the RDA's Trivia section). Final Fantasy VII begins with a close-up of a main character's face (Aerith Gainsborough's); she then walks through a city street as the camera zooms away to show a full view of the city. The game ends with Aerith opening her eyes. In Avatar, it begins with Jake using his wheelchair to get across a city street, the camera zooms out for a full shot of the city, and it also has Jake opening his eyes in the ending.
Avatar-logo

The Papyrus-like logo has become the subject of jokes.

  • The font used for the film's previous logo is Papyrus, with a few minor adjustments. A new logo, featuring a brand new font designed by Anneke Suyderhoud and Joshua Izzo, was put into use for the film's title card and all Avatar material in November 2019.[33][34] Saturday Night Live created a skit in 2017 joking about the lack of originality regarding the font. James Cameron replied to the skit, saying he had no idea the font was an off-the-shelf one.
  • A casting call was posted on the website of Mali Finn Casting in early December 2005 for the female lead. The casting call was erroneously reported to be for James Cameron's Battle Angel, then planned for 2011.
  • Although the film is almost three hours long, Avatar does not pass the "Bechdel test" which requires that two named female characters must talk about something other than a male character. Grace, Neytiri and Trudy do not interact with each other, and when Mo'at and Neytiri talk, it is regarding her training Jake. The Way of Water does manage to pass the test, however.
  • Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader (2004) claims on page 435 that Avatar would probably never be made, and also mentions the film was supposed to be set in 2040 instead of 2154. The page can be read here.
  • During the scene where Jake first meets with Selfridge, when Selfridge complains about the Na'vi refusing human technology, Jake's digital watch face says it is 2:19. However, only 38 seconds later, as Jake asks what the plan is to get the Omatikaya to leave Hometree, his watch face says it is 2:53.
  • The film is rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking, according to commercials on air. It is James Cameron's third film to receive this rating (with Titanic and The Abyss).
  • The mating scene was cut short in the original release because James Cameron felt that it would make some audience members feel uncomfortable, and to avoid an "R" rating of the film.
  • Avatar was the first film to debut the new 20th Century Fox logo, which is animated by Blue Sky Studios, the creators of Ice Age (2002).
  • The major part of the film takes place in August 2154, 200 years after James Cameron's birth (* 16. August 1954).

Actors

  • Michael Biehn was considered for the role of Colonel Quaritch. He met with James Cameron three times and saw some of the 3D footage, but in the end it simply came down to the fact that Cameron didn't want people thinking it was Aliens (1986) all over again, as Sigourney Weaver had already been cast.
  • Sigourney Weaver plays a "James Cameron" persona for her character in Avatar. Sigourney stated in an interview, "I teased him because to me I'm playing Jim Cameron in the movie as this kind of brilliant, approach-driven, idealistic perfectionist. But that same somebody has a great heart underneath. So I have to say I was always kind of channeling him."
  • Avatar is the second James Cameron film that doesn't feature either Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Jennette Goldstein, or Arnold Schwarzennegger, the first being Piranha 2: The Spawning.
  • Sam Worthington beat out two other actors for the role of Jake Sully: Chris Evans and Channing Tatum. This was based on his delivery of the crucial speech to the Na'vi at the Tree of Souls.[35]

Unfinished Deleted Scenes

There were a number of other scenes left unfinished at various stages in the production process. About 45 minutes of footage exists for the following entries, which were present on the Extended Collector's Edition's second disc. Additionally, the original script had a number of unused scenes and these are also listed below.

  • Stingbat Attack: Jake, in his wheelchair, comes near the fence that surrounds Hells Gate, staring at a creature that resembles a stingbat, orange and has wings that appear more bat like, attacks the fence, trying to get at him, but is killed by Lyle Wainfleet.
  • The script had a character working in Hell's Kitchen named Hegner, who lost his Avatar to a Slinth. "Hegner felt himself die, and he hasn't been right since. Added to the trauma is the loss... the loss of his other life, the one lived in his avatar body."
  • In the script, Trudy Chacón and Norm Spellman have a romantic relationship. Before she crashes, Trudy whispers: "Norm, I love you." Jake discovers their relationship, when, getting out of a link, finds them sharing their intimacy in Norm's bunk.
  • The script version of Tsu'tey's death was marginally longer, having had his queue cut off by Lyle Wainfleet.
  • The mating scene between Jake and Neytiri has some additional dialogue.
  • The Dreamhunt: After having captured his ikran, Jake is actually an "adult" Na'vi. The last rite is the Uniltaron, when a Na'vi will discover his "protective animal", similar to rituals in some Native American cultures. During the rite, Jake sees a toruk, the "last shadow," and is shy about sharing his vision, as the animal is considered to be a symbol of bad luck. Mo'at decrees that the vision is not clear and that Jake is not obliged to share it.
  • Hunt Festival: Another scene sees Jake and Tsu'tey, during a hunt festival, engage in a drinking contest. Tsu'tey is ready to open himself emotionally to Jake, but Neytiri interrupts them and takes Jake to dance with her, angering Tsu'tey. While Jake and Neytiri dance in the front of the fire, Tsu'tey watches them jealously.
  • The Challenge: In another scene, Tsu'tey, upon learning that Jake and Neytiri are mated for life, challenges Jake to a fight to the death. Jake accepts the challenge, and the two fight with staffs. The fight ends when Jake and Grace are returned to their human bodies by Quaritch, and Tsu'tey is stopped from killing Jake's inert avatar by Neytiri.
  • You're a long way from Earth: Prior to the Assault on the Tree of Souls, Quaritch takes over the operation, much to Selfridge's fury, who angrily berates the Colonel for "turning the mine-workers local into a freakin' militia!" and tries to stop him from proceeding with the assault. Quaritch dismisses Selfridge and prepares for the upcoming battle.
  • New Life: Neytiri was shown in this scene to be pregnant with Jake's child.

HFR-converted sequences

The following sequences are known to have received an HFR conversion as part of TrueCut Motion's post-conversion process:

  • The 20th Century Studios logo and the opening shot
  • The hammerhead titanothere encounter
  • The thanator chase
  • The viperwolf fight and Jake's first meeting with Neytiri
  • The bonding with the mountain banshees
  • The mating scene
  • Neytiri riding the thanator during the climax

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Box Office Mojo
  2. Pandorapedia: Neytiri
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Declaration of James Cameron in lawsuit Morawksi vs. Cameron
  4. 4.0 4.1 GQ: The Return of James Cameron, Box Office King
  5. Gizmodo: James Cameron Admits Avatar Is Dances With Wolves In Space
  6. Screenrant: Did James Cameron's Avatar Ripoff Princess Mononoke?
  7. Understanding Indian Myths, p.g. 46
  8. AMA with James Cameron on Reddit
  9. RealEstate: James Cameron selling his California ranch for $49.1m after moving to New Zealand
  10. Gizmodo: James Cameron Fought the Studio to Keep His Aliens Weird in "Avatar"
  11. LA Times: Is ‘Avatar’ a message movie? Absolutely, says James Cameron
  12. Business Insider article
  13. Wētā FX tweet
  14. Gizmodo: Avatar 3D Blu-ray Finally Available—When a Panasonic 3DTV is Bought
  15. HDTVtest: Panasonic Extends Complimentary Avatar 3D Blu-ray Disc Offer Yet Again
  16. Blu-ray.com: Avatar 3D Blu-ray Release Date and Pre-order
  17. CinemaBlend: Disney+ Has Totally Changed One Thing About Avatar That Was Mocked After Release
  18. What's on Disney Plus: “Avatar” Returns To Disney+
  19. Rotten Tomatoes
  20. IMDb ratings
  21. IGN review
  22. Matt's Movie Reviews
  23. James Cameron on The Charlie Rose Show
  24. The Independent Critic
  25. Eclipse Magazine
  26. Spike Online: Avatar: misanthropy in three dimensions
  27. Reddit: James Cameron on Pseudo Intellectual critics who accuse Avatar of being “Anti-Human”
  28. 'Avatar' Gets Mixed Praise From Paraplegics
  29. VOA News: Native Peoples See Themselves in 'Avatar'
  30. CBS News: Racist Theme In 'Avatar'?
  31. Unilad: James Cameron addresses Avatar ‘racism’ accusations
  32. Hollywood Reporter: James Cameron Urges All to Be “Guardians for the Ocean” as He Opens Natural History Museum Exhibit
  33. SwellType: Avatar
  34. SwellType: Yep, I created the new AVATAR font
  35. Empire: Avatar 2: James Cameron Talks Jake And Neytiri’s Family In Sequel – Exclusive

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