11 Things About James Cameron’s Avatar You May Not Know

Advertisement

Avatar is a sprawling epic interstellar sci-fi. It was created from the ambitious genius visions of James Cameron. Costing over 200 million dollars to make, this special-effects heavy movie made back more than 2.8 billion dollars, topping the charts for the highest-grossing movie of all time for nearly a decade.

There is little doubt that this imaginative filmmaker knows how to prevail, making any early allegations that his next Avatar sequels will fail to impress doubtful at this time. The man creates hits, and Avatar is unquestionably one of his crown jewels. Indeed, the road to success was strewn with hard battles and difficulties, but Cameron triumphed. And with the recent upcoming release of Avatar: The Way of Water, let’s look at some fascinating behind-the-scenes information about 2009’s Avatar.

#1 James Cameron Reportedly Made $350+ Million For Making Avatar

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

Cameron apparently made more than $350 million from making Avatar, due to his directorial deal, which was structured as either “first dollar” gross or else, “at cash break” gross. That’s a good chunk of the pie. Given the $2.7 billion success, it makes sense that Cameron would be well compensated for his efforts. Avatar would not exist without Cameron’s audacious vision as a writer, director, and producer.

Advertisement

#2 Avatar was originally going to get an R rating

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

James Cameron is most recognized for R-rated films such as The Terminator, T2, and Aliens. Even his well-known PG-13 films, such as The Abyss and Titanic, defy its restrictions. Avatar was also rumored to be R-rated at one point, although that was never the case. According to reports, Cameron created an R-rated screenplay at first, but it became evident that concessions were required. Given the enormous budget, they sought to ensure that the blockbuster reached as large an audience as possible, something an R-rating would not allow. So Cameron dialed back and made a PG-13 version.

#3 Sigourney Weaver’s Cigarette Was CG

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

According to reports, CG is used in 60 percent of Avatar. Avatar uses so much computer graphics technology that even Cameron eventually recognized that the films are essentially animated. For example, did you know that when Sigourney Weaver’s Dr. Grace Augustine smokes a cigarette, she isn’t holding a real cigarette? Behind-the-scenes footage of Weaver puffing on air is included in the Blu-Ray bonus.

#4 At Least At The Time, Avatar Was Fox’s Most Expensive Movie

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

James Cameron does not make cheap movies. Titanic was certainly not a low-budget production, but Fox was rewarded tenfold for its success. As a result, it seems reasonable that they willingly gave Cameron whatever money he required to accomplish his latest idea. Having said that, Fox obviously spent a lot of money. According to reports, Avatar cost an estimated $237 million, not including promotional materials. That’s a lot of money for only one film, especially by 2009 standards, but Fox chief James Gianopulos concedes it was “money well-spent” given Avatar’s popularity.

#5 Gollum Was What Convinced James Cameron To Make Avatar

Source: Lord of the Rings / New Line Cinema

It was a fantastic moment when Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was released. Jackson’s enthralling trilogy is a work of art in terms of story, character, scenery, and special effects brilliance. The invention of Gollum, wonderfully played using motion capture by Andy Serkis, is one of the most astounding achievements of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His great performance, combined with the incredible WETA CGI special effects, was an incredible stride forward for CG effects; at least, that’s how James Cameron felt. Cameron claims that seeing Gollum on screen convinced him that Avatar was a real possibility.

#6 Michael Biehn Thought He Was Gonna Be Casted In Avatar

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

When it came to Avatar, Michael Biehn’s expectations got the best of him. The actor has a long history of collaboration with James Cameron. The actor and director collaborated on The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss, and Biehn assumed he’d have a role in Cameron’s next movie as Avatar came to existence. Biehn previously been burned when he assumed he’d be cast in Titanic but didn’t make the cut. Then he wasted nine months assuming he’d get a role in Avatar, specifically the one Stephen Lang ended up portraying, only to learn the hard way that he wasn’t on the casting list. What a pity.

#7 Cameron Enforced A Vegan Diet On Set

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

It would be disingenuous, to say the least, for a film as concerned with the well-being of the world as Avatar if this set used animal products. As a result, Cameron strictly enforced a vegan set, providing a “plant-based meal” for the cast and staff, according to The Guardian. You have to practice what you preach, and Avatar’s set was obviously conscious of its own food intake.

#8 Linguist Paul Frommer Created A Thousand Words In Na’vi

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

In an interview with Frommer, he revealed his laborious, meticulous process of establishing this entirely new language, hoping that Avatar would be successful so that his efforts would not be in vain. While you don’t commonly find people speaking Na’vi in everyday life, Avatar found its audience, which is lucky for Frommer. He began in 2005 and has written nearly a thousand words.

#9 Composer James Horner Used Newly Invented Instruments For Avatar’s Score

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

Aside from the memorable imagery, fantastical creature designs, and striking environments seen throughout Avatar, one of the most natural ways of conveying the magic and awe of this newfound planet is through the score, which can ease us into the journey and allow us to be swept up in its grandeur and majesty. The late James Horner went to great lengths to produce a stunning unique score. He specifically looked for musical instruments all around the world and employed instruments he built from scratch to generate the sound he desired for the score.

#10 The Look Of The Na’vi Was Inspired By A Dream James Cameron’s Mom Had

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

The initial concept for the Na’vi came from his mother’s dream, where she envisioned a twelve-foot-tall blue woman, which was “sort of a cool image” that lingered with the filmmaker, as James Cameron recalled upon the film’s premiere. Furthermore, Cameron’s inspiration for The Terminator came to him in a nightmare while he was unwell in Rome.

#11 James Cameron First Began Writing Avatar In 1994

Source: Avatar / 20th Century Fox

It took a long time for James Cameron to realize his vision for Avatar. The filmmaker apparently first conceived of the imagery featured throughout his film in the 1970s, when he created his first screenplay, and the themes contained throughout the record-breaking blockbuster evolved over the next several decades. Cameron began writing Avatar in 1994, according to ABC News, and he continued to revise and retool the story in the years that followed.