Avatar (2009 film)

Avatar (also marketed as James Cameron's Avatar) is a 2009 American[7][8] epic science fiction film directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver. It is set in the mid-22nd century when humans are colonizing Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system, in order to mine the valuable mineral unobtanium.[9][10][11] The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na'vi – a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film's title refers to a genetically engineered Na'vi body operated from the brain of a remotely located human that is used to interact with the natives of Pandora.[12]

Avatar
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Cameron
Written byJames Cameron
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyMauro Fiore
Edited by
Music byJames Horner
Production
companies
Distributed by20th Century Fox[2]
Release dates
  • December 10, 2009 (2009-12-10) (London)
  • December 18, 2009 (2009-12-18) (United States)
Running time
162 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$237 million[4]
$9 million+ (re-release)[5]
Box office$2.847 billion[6]

Development of Avatar began in 1994, when Cameron wrote an 80-page treatment for the film.[13][14] Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, for a planned release in 1999;[15] however, according to Cameron, the necessary technology was not yet available to achieve his vision of the film.[16] Work on the language of the Na'vi began in 2005, and Cameron began developing the screenplay and fictional universe in early 2006.[17][18] Avatar was officially budgeted at $237 million, due to a groundbreaking array of new visual effects Cameron achieved in cooperation with Weta Digital in Wellington.[4] Other estimates put the cost between $280 million and $310 million for production and at $150 million for promotion.[19][20][21] The film made extensive use of new motion capture filming techniques and was released for traditional viewing, 3D viewing (using the RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, XpanD 3D, and IMAX 3D formats), and "4D" experiences in selected South Korean theaters.[22]

Avatar premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was released in the United States on December 18 to positive reviews, with critics highly praising its groundbreaking visual effects.[23][24][25] During its theatrical run, the film broke several box office records and became the highest-grossing film at the time, as well as in the United States and Canada,[26] surpassing Cameron's Titanic, which had held those records for twelve years.[27] Avatar remained the highest-grossing film in the world for nearly a decade until it was overtaken by Avengers: Endgame in 2019, but a Chinese re-release of Avatar (post-COVID reopening of movie theatres) led to the film retaking the worldwide top spot in March 2021, where it has been ever since.[28] Adjusted for inflation, Avatar is the second highest-grossing movie of all time after Gone with the Wind with a total of more than $3 billion. It also became the first film to gross more than $2 billion[29] and the best-selling video title of 2010 in the United States. Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director,[30] and won three, for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects.[31] The success of the film also led to electronics manufacturers releasing 3D televisions[32] and caused 3D films[33] to increase in popularity.

Following the film's success, Cameron signed with 20th Century Fox to produce four sequels: Avatar: The Way of Water and Avatar 3 have completed principal filming, and are scheduled to be released on December 16, 2022, and December 20, 2024, respectively; subsequent sequels are scheduled to be released on December 18, 2026, and December 22, 2028.[34] Several cast members are expected to return, including Worthington, Saldana, Lang, and Weaver.[35][36]


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