James Cameron Talks Originality In Avatar

Published 6 years ago by

avatar james cameron James Cameron Talks Originality In Avatar

With the big blockbusters of 2009 almost behind us (save for, perhaps, District 9), the one big film left is James Cameron’s Avatar, set to hit theaters just before Christmas. It’s had a gargantuan amount of hype and praise attached to it that’s grown from, “What is Avatar?” to the bold claim that “Avatar is going to revolutionize cinema.”

The footage shown at Comic-Con this year impressed the hell out of most folks who were lucky to snag a seat for the Avatar panel. Our own Rob Keyes was one of those lucky people – he called it a “visual spectacle” that had “a completely realistic and believable aesthetic.” Exciting words of praise, indeed!

One aspect of Avatar that seems to have gone pretty unnoticed amongst all the praise and hype around the visuals and the technology invented for the film, is the fact that it’s a completely original script. This doesn’t have decades-old stories (e.g. Lord of the Rings) or an existing fan base (e.g. Harry Potter) to play off of. Although Cameron will undoubtedly have been inspired by sci-fi films of the past, when it comes down to it, this is a newly created entity that’s about to be unleashed on the movie going public.

Geoff Boucher over at LA Times’ Hero Complex got a chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mr. Cameron, quizzing him about the various aspects of Avatar, including the footage that’s been shown so far. Boucher reveals in the interview he actually got to see 35 minutes of footage (that’s 11 whole minutes more than the Comic-Con crowds). With regards to Avatar being original, Cameron had this to say:

“It’s simultaneously one of the great strengths and one of the potential weaknesses. We have no brand value. We have to create that brand value. “Avatar” means something to that group of fans that know this film is coming, but to the other 99% of the public it’s a nonsense word and we have to hope we can educate them. Well, I shouldn’t say a nonsense word – it doesn’t mean anything specific in terms of a brand association. And in fact there may be even a slight negative one because more people know about the Saturday morning cartoon, the anime, than about this particular film. We’ve got to create that [brand] from scratch.

On the other hand, ultimately, it is probably the film’s greatest strength in the long run. We’ve had these big, money-making franchise films for a long time, “Star Trek” and “Star Wars,” you know, “Harry Potter,” and there’s a certain sort of comfort factor in that; you know what you’re going to get. But there’s no kind of shock of the new that’s possible with that. It’s been a while since something that took us on a journey, something that grabbed us by the lapels and dragged us out the door and took us on a journey of surprise.”

avatar new poster James Cameron Talks Originality In Avatar

Cameron goes on to talk more about the very true fact that he won’t be letting a massive amount of people down if they don’t like Avatar – no one (by that I mean the majority audience out there) knows what Avatar is, no one has been able to read Avatar the novel, or the graphic novel and the majority of people will be going in with a blank slate, free of worry that it won’t live up to the source material… because there ISN’T any.

Hero Complex‘s interview is only Part 1, so we can expect more soon. For the rest of Part 1 of the interview – where Cameron talks how much of his original Avatar story has been left intact from 14 years ago until now – you can head over to LA Times’ Hero Complex.

It’s actually really refreshing to see an original project like Avatar making its way to our movie theaters. So many movies nowadays are based on existing material in some form or another – not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. But I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to not having any comics, books, TV shows or past movies to hold up against Cameron’s latest effort.

What about you? Are you glad to see a through-and-through original movie of this scope getting made? Do you think it will help or hinder the movie at the box office?

Avatar is set to hit 3D and regular theaters on December 18, 2009. A special 15-minute long presentation of footage is scheduled to be shown in IMAX theaters worldwide for FREE on August 21, 2009, a.k.a. “Avatar Day.”

Mark your calendars now.

Sources: Hero Complex (thanks to InContention)

TAGS: Avatar
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  1. I am glad that we are getting to see something original onscreen, but Cameron does make a point with the source material aspect because the market is so saturated with items that the audience is familiar with. Even if it is original, there will be an accompaying comic book or whatever to give you an understanding, not like the good old days when the trailer was enough. Now there’s viral marketing, comics, and a lot of other crap.

    It will be interesting to see how District 9 does this weekend. And then if word of mouth helps it. It could be a precursor to how Avatar is received. Could be.

  2. Absolutely,I am ready to see something completely original come out of Hollywood.I want to be stunned,wowed,amazed,and have my mouth left totally agape at see something fresh,creative,and original.

    Everyone who has seen the footage that James Cameron has released have said that it is visually stunning.As for not knowing anything about the story,it’s James Cameron,he gets the benefit of the doubt.So I’m hoping for something really good.

  3. Cameron is usually original with his work so we can expect great things from him again.

  4. Films like this, District 9, and say Iron Man2 I have no interest in seeing 25 min of footage especially making a trip to a Imax theater. Gimme a break.
    I can wait ,,, and I’m tired of knowing too much about movies before hand.
    Reading the pre-buzz is cool but as we get closer to the release dates to these films I drop out of the trailers and interviews.

  5. It’s amazing but most of the big movies in the last decade have been based on something. I didn’t realize it until now.


  6. avatar only movie until the end of the year???????????
    and what about 2012,surrogates,sherlock holmes

  7. @kurcina,

    I was simply referring to the big blockbusters that are a big, BIG deal. (2012 slipped my mind – but are people absolutely dying to see that one?) Avatar is the biggest “big deal” movie left I’d say.

    Not that those others (Holmes and Surrogates) you mentioned aren’t anticipated – it’s just they’re not huge blockbusters, at least not at the size of Transformers 2, Terminator, and, of course, Avatar.

  8. I’ve got a feeling that it’ll be good but not revolutionary. I heard a lot of rumors that its ‘cartoony’

  9. @Vin

    That was kind of the consensus from Comic-Con. GREAT, but not really revolutionary as is being buzzed.


  10. Ah so finally the truth comes out.

    Its all hype ,,,
    This is good news to me,,,

  11. Excuse my total ignorance,but why has everyone been staining their undies when only a few people have actually seen anything substantial of the film?

    Sure there has been conceptual art/renderings,an interview here and there,and a couple of set shots,but honestly,why the grand hype?And this has been going on for months now.

    Is it because it’s James Cameron and he hasn’t done a movie in ages,is it because it’s “supposed” to be “revelutionary”,or is it because people don’t have anything better to do?

    Now please don’t get me wrong,I honestly and truthfully hope that this will be a great movie,because with all the crap that comes out on a weekly basis,we need as many winners as we can get.But I just don’t understand the hype over a movie that,to be honest,we know so little about.

    The Dark Knight had so much hype behind it for obvious reasons,but I just really don’t get this,at least at this point when all we have is a pretty lame trailer that doesn’t show us anything noteworthy.

  12. This might piss off Longshanks but I totally agree with him… 😉

  13. I don’t want to be a stick in the mud, but isn’t this just another first contact movie, remember “The Abyss?” Granted we could use a different take on the story but after recently reading “Roadside Picnic,” “Fiasco,” “Solaris,” and “Eden,” the bar is pretty high.

  14. They had a piece of equipment from Avatar on the main floor of Comic Con and it looked just like a vehicle from Mech-Assault the video game.

  15. I hope Avatar starts a new trend in Hollywood, which is:
    Quit ripping off past TV shows/ books/ graphic novels/ Disneyland rides/ Hasbro toys/!!!!! As the article makes clear, there is no surprise in these “rip-offs.”

  16. @ 790, Very few people said it was cartoony, and you have to take into account the fact that since we have never seen anything like it our minds will make it look fake. Ide saw the consensus from Comic Con was that it was indeed photoreal. And idk what vehicle was in Mech-Assault, but as far as Avatar goes, it had been thought of many years ago.

    dont base your opinion of the movie off of a fan trailer guys

  17. In fact, CHUD(website) said that it looked cartoony. That’s the one who has a private war with fox and says he would prefer the new Final destination 3D movie. Not a serious source for me. I work for a Film-company in Germany and my boss was at Cinema-Expo in Amsterdam and had the chance to watch Avatar-footage. He said it was photoreal for HIM. And that’s the point I think. Is your mind ready to buy it. At the moment a lunar probe surrounds moon. When tomorrow CNN reports “the lunar orbiter has discovered an old ancient alien spaceship on the dark side of the moon” and they would show detailed photos, would you buy it instantly?

  18. I kinda suspect that the only revolutionary thing about this film will be the fact that it’s a Hollywood blockbuster and it doesn’t suck. Just check out Terminator Salvation and Transformers 2. Not one, but 2 high budget movie about robots, and both of them are horrible. What has the movie industry come to.

  19. The real anticipation for this film comes from the reputation of Cameron himself. The hype is from the claims of a revolutionary filming technique. Combine the two and you have the makings of a potential blockbuster. As Ross has pointed out though, the fact that Avatar is an original story seems to have escaped the buzz so far and this could be it’s undoing. Time will tell if it does a Watchmen like dive on it’s second week out.
    I don’t think it will, not with the new filming technique and Cameron’s name attached to a completely original story.

    Having said that, I am very much anticipating Avatar, and will be making what ever trip may be necessary to see it in it’s 3D format (I live in Bumf*** Egypt’s sister city in N.J.). But I’m going to join 790 in avoiding the spoilers as much as possible. Seems to me that if your going to see a whole new story for the first time, the less you know about it, the more you’ll enjoy it.

  20. I’m of the same mind as 790 and JustDavid, I think I would have enjoyed “Watchman” even more if I had watched one less trailer. Having never read the novel, I knew nothing of the story. Just 1 second of a certian clip of a giant hand crashing through a pane of glass, and I pretty much knew too much of the story, for my taste! Self imposed preview black-out, s.i.m.p.b.l.o.t. Their’s got to be a better acronym for this !! Maybe just [Simble.]

  21. So when people say they see footage and it knocked their socks off, nay-sayers say “oh, they must be exaggerating, must be all hype.”

    Then when someone says that some people say it isn’t that great then those same people say “oh see, so I was right, it’s all hype!”

    Perfect example of people with their minds made up that will hear what they want to hear. Funny that you can see it in action.

    I’ve heard more praise than people calling it hype from the people who has seen the footage, so I’m going to be optimistic, but won’t have a real opinion on it until I actually see it. Can’t go wrong with the “believe it when I see it” stance right?