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Avatar

AvatarDirected by   James Cameron
Produced by   James Cameron, Jon Landau
Written by   James Cameron
Starring   Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang,
Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver
Music by   James Horner
Cinematography   Mauro Fiore
Editing by   James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin
Studio   Lightstorm Entertainment, Dune Entertainment,
Ingenious Film Partners
Distributed by   20th Century Fox
Release date(s)   London: December 10, 2009;
United Kingdom: December 17, 2009;
United States: December 18, 2009
Running time   161 minutes
Country   United States, United Kingdom
Language   English
Budget   $237,000,000
Gross revenue   $2,074,690,945


Avatar is a 2009 American-British epic 3-D science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. The film was produced by Lightstorm Entertainment and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was released in the United Kingdom on December 17, 2009, one day prior to its theatrical release in the United States.

The film focuses on an epic conflict on Pandora, an inhabited Earth-sized moon of Polyphemus, one of three fictional gas giants orbiting Alpha Centauri A. On Pandora, human colonists and the sentient humanoid indigenous inhabitants of Pandora, the Na'vi, engage in a war over the planet's resources and the latter's continued existence. The film's title refers to the remotely controlled, genetically engineered human-Na'vi bodies used by the film's human characters to interact with the natives.

Avatar had been in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote a 114-page scriptment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Titanic, and the film would have been released in 1999, but according to Cameron, "technology needed to catch up" with his vision of the film. In early 2006, Cameron developed the script, the language, and the culture of Pandora. He has stated that if Avatar is successful, two sequels to the film are planned.

The film was released in traditional 2D and 3D formats, along with an IMAX 3D release in selected theaters. Avatar is officially budgeted at $237 million; some estimates put the cost as high as $500 million – $300 million to produce and an estimated $150 million for marketing, with a further $50 million buffer inserted to cover further costs. The film is being 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. Opening to critical acclaim, it earned an estimated $27 million on its opening day and an estimated $73 million after three days. Worldwide, the film earned an estimated $232,180,000 in its opening weekend, the ninth largest opening-weekend gross of all time, and the largest for a non-franchise, non-sequel and original film.

Plot

In AD 2154, a human corporation is engaged in mining and associated activities on Pandora, the lush moon of Polyphemus, one of three gas giants that orbit Alpha Centauri A, 4.4 light years from Earth. The humans seek to exploit Pandora's reserves of a precious mineral called unobtainium.

Pandora is inhabited by an indigenous neolithic species of sentient humanoids called the Na'vi. Standing nine feet tall, with tails and bioluminescent blue skin, the Na'vi live in harmony with the natural world around them, and are considered primitive by human standards. They worship a mother goddess called Eywa.

Humans are unable to breathe Pandora's atmosphere, which is rich in carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia, and peaceful interaction with the Na'vi is difficult. Human researchers, led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) created the Avatar Program, taking human and Na'vi DNA and using it to genetically engineer human-Na'vi hybrid bodies called Avatars.

A human who shares genetic material with the Avatar can be mentally linked to it, allowing them to control its functions and experience what it experiences, while their own body sleeps. The story's protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. His twin brother Tommy was a scientist working on the Avatar program; but when he is killed, Jake is extended the opportunity to take his brother's place, as he shares Tommy's genetic material and is therefore compatible with his Avatar, which was costly to manufacture. However, Dr. Augustine is less than happy about Jake being there, as his brother had a doctorate and years of extensive training to participate in the program. In contrast, Jake has no knowledge of Na'vi culture and has never used an Avatar. Regardless, the research team decides to let him go through with the program, having him act as security detail rather than a scientist. During his first Avatar test Jake is ecstatic to be able to use his legs once again.

Jake's first assignment is to escort Dr. Augustine and a biologist named Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) through the hostile jungle. Eventually, the group is attacked by a Thanator, a large predator, and Jake becomes separated from the others, forcing them to leave him behind for the night and believing that he will "not survive" the alien environment. Throughout the night, he attempts to survive in his Avatar body, fending off dangerous creatures. This attracts the attention of a female Na'vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who decides to intervene by rescuing Jake from certain death. Although at first troubled by Jake's recklessness, she decides to take him back to the Na'vi Hometree, which is the center of her clan both spiritually and literally. The Na'vi decide to take Jake and teach him about their culture.

Jake encounters many of Pandora's beauties and dangers. Despite having originally gotten lost by chance, which led into his integration in the Omaticaya Na'vi tribe, he is sent by his military superior, Colonel Miles Quaritch, to obtain the trust of the Na'vi clan, and convince them to abandon their Hometree, which sits above a large deposit of unobtainium. As Jake learns the way of the Na'vi, he finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth and a newfound love for his adopted home and people. He fully integrates himself into the tribe and takes Neytiri as his mate, attacking and disabling a human machine when it almost kills him and Neytiri. Believing that the Na'vi will never abandon their home, the humans plan to attack and destroy the Hometree, forcing the Na'vi to flee, but Jake pleads for another chance to convince them to leave. The Na'vi feel betrayed by Jake after he confesses his true purpose for coming to them, and they imprison him and leave him for dead when Hometree is destroyed. Back at base, Jake and his compatriots are forcibly disconnected from their avatar interfaces and are detained for arguing against the destruction. However, Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriguez), one of the pilots, disgusted at the violence, breaks the prisoners out, but Grace is mortally wounded in the departure from base. Deciding there is only one way that the Na'vi would listen to him now, Jake tames the Toruk, a formidable and revered winged creature, and in doing so earns back the respect of the Na'vi. He pleads with Mo'at, the spiritual leader of the Na'vi, to heal Grace with the help of Eywa. They attempt to permanently transfer her consciousness into her avatar at the Tree of Souls, but Grace cannot be saved and dies from her injuries.

After Grace's death, Jake stirs the Na'vi to war with the assistance of Neytiri and Tsu'Tey, the newly appointed chief of the Omaticaya Clan. Jake assembles thousands of Na'vi from other tribes and leads them into battle against the human forces, in order to save their race and world. The humans detect the assembling forces and Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) orders a preemptive attack to destroy the Tree of Souls, as they know that it is the center of Na'vi religion and culture. If the humans manage to destroy it then the Na'vi will be too demoralized to continue resisting the human invasion and take over of Pandora. Meanwhile, Jake goes to the Tree of Souls where he prays to Eywa to intercede on behalf of the Na'vi in the coming battle against the alien human invaders. He begs Eywa to search through Grace's memories of Earth and see that there is no greenery left. He tells Eywa that the humans have spoiled their own planet and would do exactly the same to Pandora. Neytiri tells him that Eywa will not take sides, but that She only protects the balance of life.

In the resulting battle, the Na'vi put up a much more formidable defense under Jake's leadership, but human technology outweighs Na'vi bravery and they take heavy casualties, including Tsu'Tey, Trudy, and Norm's Avatar. It is now that Pandora's true power is revealed; all living creatures are inter-connected to each other through Eywa, who is the conscious spirit of the planet. There is a mass attack by all Pandoran wildlife against the alien human invaders who are driven back and defeated. Neytiri interprets this as Eywa having answered Jake's prayer. However, Colonel Quaritch refuses to give up and orders the Tree of Souls to be bombed, but Jake, in his Na'vi avatar ,manages to take down on the bombing shuttle and sends it crashing to the forest floor.

Quaritch's Gunship is attacked as well, but he is able to escape the vehicle in his AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform) suit as it crashes. As he proceeds to the Tree of Souls to destroy it, he finds the remote Avatar interface field pod Jake's compatriots had moved and hidden deep in Na'vi territory and decides to destroy it to kill the human Jake. Neytiri and the Avatar Jake arrive to stop him, but not before he seriously damages the pod, exposing the human Jake to Pandora's deadly atmosphere. Neytiri kills Quaritch and saves Jake by retrieving a protective mask from the remnants of the base, witnessing Jake in his human form for the first time. Jake expresses his love for her, weakly uttering "I see you" (a term culturally significant to the Na'vi), which Neytiri lovingly says in return.

After the battle, the humans are forced to leave Pandora, while Jake and his friends are allowed to remain. Jake permanently transfers h from his human body to his Na'vi avatar by way of a Na'vi ritual at the Tree of Souls,the same one attempted with Grace to send her into her Avatar. The film ends with Jake awakening inside his Avatar.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(2009_film)

Official Trailer - Avatar

Screenshots

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Production

Development
In 1994, director James Cameron wrote a 114-page scriptment for Avatar. Cameron said his inspiration was "every single science fiction book I read as a kid", and that he was particularly striving to update the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter series. In August 1996, Cameron announced that after completing Titanic, he would film Avatar, which would make use of "synthetic", or computer-generated, actors. The project would cost $100 million and involve at least six actors in leading roles "who appear to be real but do not exist in the physical world". Special effects house Digital Domain, with whom Cameron has a partnership, joined the project, which was supposed to begin production in the summer of 1997 for a 1999 release.

In June 2005, Cameron was announced to be working on a project tentatively titled "Project 880", concurrently with another project, Battle Angel. By December, Cameron said that he planned to film Battle Angel first for a summer 2007 release, and to film Project 880 for a 2009 release. In February 2006, Cameron said he had switched goals for the two film projects – Project 880 was now scheduled for 2007 and Battle Angel for 2009. He indicated that the release of Project 880 would possibly be delayed until 2008. Later that February, Cameron revealed that Project 880 was "a retooled version of Avatar", a film that he had tried to make years earlier, citing the technological advances in the creation of the computer-generated characters Gollum, King Kong and Davy Jones. Cameron had chosen Avatar over Battle Angel after completing a five-day camera test in the previous year.

Cameron's early scriptment for Avatar had circulated on the Internet for years. When the project was re-announced, copies were subsequently removed from websites. From January to April 2006, Cameron worked on the script. Working with Dr. Paul Frommer, linguist and Director of the Center for Management Communication at USC, he developed a Na'vi language and culture, the indigenous race on Pandora. The language has a vocabulary of about 1000 words, with some 30 having been invented by Cameron. The tongue's phonemes include ejective consonsants (such as the "kx" in "skxawng") that are found in the Amharic language of Ethiopia, and the initial "ng" that Cameron may have taken from New Zealand Maori.

In June 2006, Cameron said that if Avatar was successful, he hoped to make two sequels to the film. In July, Cameron announced that he would film Avatar for a summer 2008 release and planned to begin principal photography with an established cast by February 2007. The following August, the visual effects studio Weta Digital signed on to help Cameron produce Avatar. Stan Winston, who had collaborated with Cameron in the past, joined Avatar to help with the film's designs. In September 2006, Cameron was announced to be using his own Reality Camera System to film in 3-D. The system would use two high-definition cameras in a single camera body to create depth perception.

In December 2006, Cameron described Avatar as "a futuristic tale set on a planet 200 years hence an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience aspires to a mythic level of storytelling." The January 2007 press release described the film: "Avatar is also an emotional journey of redemption and revolution. It is the story of a wounded former Marine, thrust unwillingly into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in bio-diversity, who eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival," and "We're creating an entire world, a complete ecosystem of phantasmagorical plants and creatures, and a native people with a rich culture and language."

Estimates put the cost of the film at about $430 million-$310 million to produce and an estimated $150 million for marketing, noting that about $30 million in tax credits will lessen the financial impact on the studio and its financiers. However, a studio spokesperson, speaking with film website The Wrap, said that the budget "is $237 million, with $150 million for promotion, end of story." It is worth noting that similar could be said of many modern films; the sixth Harry Potter film reportedly cost $250 million to make and a further $150 million to market.

Themes and inspirations
Avatar is centered around the themes of imperialism and biodiversity. Cameron has said that Avatar shares themes with At Play in the Fields of the Lord, and The Emerald Forest, which feature clashes between cultures and civilizations, and acknowledged the film's connection with Dances With Wolves, where a battered soldier finds himself drawn to the tribal culture he was initially fighting against.

At Comic Con 2009, Cameron told attendees that he wanted to make "something that has this spoonful of sugar of all the action and the adventure and all that, which thrills me anyway as a fan, but also wanting to do something that has a conscience, that maybe in the enjoying of it makes you think a little bit about the way you interact with nature and your fellow man." He added that "the Na'vi represent something that is our higher selves, or our aspirational selves, what we would like to think we are," and "the humans in the film, even though there are some good ones salted in, represent what we know to be the parts of ourselves that are trashing our world and maybe condemning ourselves to a grim future."

In a 2007 interview with Time magazine, Cameron addressed the meaning of the film's title, answering the question "What is an avatar, anyway?" with "It's an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form. In this film what that means is that the human technology in the future is capable of injecting a human's intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body. It's not an avatar in the sense of just existing as ones and zeroes in cyberspace. It's actually a physical body."

Pandora, the lush jungle planet with incredible life-forms and non-technological native population, is featuring prominently in several of the famous Russian Sci-Fi authors the Strugatsky brothers works, with one of them, the late 1960-s "Snail on the Slope", specifically featuring a downed human helicopter pilot whose severed head was fastened on a native's body, who becomes integrated into their society - having his conscience in effect implanted into an alien body - and becomes a warrior on their behalf in the end.

Filming and effects
In December 2006, Cameron explained that the delay in producing the film since the 1990s had been to wait until the technology necessary to create his project was advanced enough. The director planned to create photo-realistic computer-generated characters by using motion capture animation technology, on which he had been doing work for the past 14 months. Unlike previous motion capture systems, where the digital environment is added after the actors' motions have been captured, Cameron's new virtual camera allows him to observe directly on a monitor how the actors' virtual counterparts interact with the movie's digital world in real time and adjust and direct the scenes just as if shooting live action; "It’s like a big, powerful game engine. If I want to fly through space, or change my perspective, I can. I can turn the whole scene into a living miniature and go through it on a 50 to 1 scale." Cameron planned to continue developing the special effects for Avatar, which he hoped would be released in summer 2009. He also gave fellow directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson a chance to test the new technology. Spielberg and George Lucas were also able to visit the set to watch Cameron direct with the equipment.

Other technological innovations include "The Volume", a motion capture stage six times larger than any previously used, and an improved method of capturing facial expressions, enabling full performance capture. To achieve the latter, actors wore individually made skull caps with a tiny camera attached, located in front of the actors' faces, which collects information about their facial expressions and eyes, which is then transmitted to the computers. According to Cameron, the method allows the filmmakers to transfer about 95% of the actors' performances to their digital counterparts. Besides a real-time virtual world, the team is also experimenting with a way of allowing the computer-generated characters to interact with real actors on a real, live-action set while shooting live action.

In January 2007, Fox announced that the studio's Avatar would be filmed in 3D at 24 frames per second despite Cameron's strong opinion that a 3D film requires higher frame rate to make strobing less noticeable. Cameron described the film as a hybrid with a full live-action shoot in combination with computer-generated characters and live environments. "Ideally at the end of the day the audience has no idea which they’re looking at," Cameron said. The director indicated that he had already worked four months on nonprincipal scenes for the film. Principal photography began in April 2007, and was done around parts of Los Angeles as well as New Zealand. The live action was shot with a modified version of the proprietary digital 3D Fusion Camera System, developed by Cameron and Vince Pace. According to Cameron, the film will be composed of 60% computer-generated elements and 40% live action, as well as traditional miniatures. Motion capture photography would last 31 days at the Hughes Aircraft stage in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, California. In October, Cameron was scheduled to shoot live-action in New Zealand for another 31 days.

To create the human mining colony on Pandora, production designers visited the Noble Clyde Boudreaux drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico during June 2007. They photographed, measured and filmed every aspect of the rig, which will be replicated on-screen with photorealistic CGI. More than a thousand people worked on the production. James Cameron sent the cast of Avatar off to the jungle for bonding boot camp exercises before he started shooting the film.

Music and soundtrack
Composer James Horner scored the film, his third collaboration with Cameron after Aliens and Titanic. Horner recorded parts of the score with a small chorus singing in the alien language Na'vi in March 2008. He is also worked with Wanda Bryant, an ethnomusicologist, to create a music culture for the alien race. The first scoring sessions were planned to take place in Spring 2009. British singer Leona Lewis was chosen to sing the theme song for the film, called "I See You". An accompanying music video, directed by Jake Nava, premiered December 15, 2009 on MySpace.

Cast

Humans

  • Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, a disabled Marine who becomes part of the "Avatar" program. Cameron cast the Australian actor after searching the world for promising young actors, preferring relative unknowns to keep the budget down. Worthington auditioned twice early in development, and he has signed on for possible sequels. Cameron felt that because Worthington had not done a major film, he was "game for anything", giving the character "a quality that is really real. He has that quality of being a guy you'd want to have a beer with, and he ultimately becomes a leader who transforms the world".
  • Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine, a botanist who mentors Jake Sully and who teaches the Na'vi English. Weaver dyed her hair red for the part. Her character was named "Shipley" at one point.The character reminded Weaver of Cameron, being "very driven and very idealistic".
  • Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacon, a retired Marine pilot. Cameron had wanted to work with Rodriguez since seeing her in Girlfight.
  • Giovanni Ribisi as SecFor administrator Parker Selfridge, the one of the film's primary antagonists. He is the reason the humans are in Pandora: to retrieve a valuable mineral worth millions per kilo. He is known to be a passive-aggressive character.
  • Joel David Moore as Norm Spellman, a biologist who studies plant and nature life (like Weaver's character). He also uses an avatar.
  • Stephen Lang as SecFor's Colonel Miles Quaritch, one of the main antagonists. Lang had unsuccessfully auditioned for a role in Cameron's Aliens (1986); the director remembered Lang and cast him in Avatar.Michael Biehn, who was in Aliens, read the script and watched some of the 3D footage with Cameron, but was ultimately not cast in the role.
  • Dileep Rao as Dr. Max Patel. A Scientist who works in the Avatar Program.
  • Matt Gerald as SecFor Corporal Lyle Wainfleet.
Na'vi
  • Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, a princess of the Na'vi tribe central to the story, who is attracted to Jake because of his bravery. The character, like all the Na'vi, was created using performance capture, and is entirely computer generated. Saldana has also signed on for potential sequels.
  • C. C. H. Pounder as Mo'at, the Na'vi spiritual leader and consort to Clan leader Eytucan.
  • Laz Alonso as Tsu'Tey, heir to the chieftainship of the tribe, and Neytiri's betrothed, although she chooses Jake over him.
  • Wes Studi as Eytucan, the Na'vi leader of the Omaticaya clan, the husband of Mo'at and Neytiri's father.
  • Peter Mensah as Akwey, a member of the Na'vi tribe.
Pandora's wildlife
  • Banshee, ikran. The pteranodon-like mountain banshee is highly adapted for flight. Specially developed muscles attached to the breastbone allow for the powerful strokes needed to achieve lift. Bonding with a banshee is a dangerous and required rite of passage for all would-be Na'vi warriors. A Banshee bonds with only one Na'vi in their lifetime.
  • Direhorse, pa’li. Horse-like creature with six legs, tough skin with no fur, long necks and small head, bold stripes, flexible carbon fiber armor over shoulders and along the back of the neck and head.
  • Hammerhead Titanothere, angtsik. This massive, grazing creature travels in small herds or packs. It is moderately social, but also extremely territorial and hierarchical. When angered, a titanothere will lower its head and charge at the perceived threat. The sheer momentum and ferocity of this display is usually enough to send any Pandoran creature running for cover. As for Human forces, the species' thick hide is resistant to most weapons available to ground forces, making them a formidable force when charging en masse.
  • Thanator, palulukan. The most fearsome of all Pandoran land predators, it possesses a wide, armored tail can slam prey or defend against other thanators. Cartilaginous plates around its neck that can flare, possibly as a threat display but more likely as an echolocation or other sensory pinpointing system. The speed of its neck and jaw strike is as swift as a camera shutter.
  • Leonopteryx, toruk. A large aerial predator, similar to the ikran but much larger, with crests ontopand below its beak. Na'vi legend tells of the toruk and that only the 'chosen one of Eywa' will be able to swiftly bond and ride the toruk during times of devastation, leading the Na'vi out of the darkness. It has been said that only 4 Na'vi ancestors has ever managed to bond with the toruk becoming the revered toruk'makto.The name "toruk" means "last shadow" in the Na'vi language, referring to its obscuring attack from above being the final warning of impending doom.
  • Viperwolf, nantang. With six legs and a lean, powerful torso, the viperwolf has evolved to travel swiftly over long distances in search of prey. The ratio of brain mass to body weight of the average adult viperwolf indicates a high order of mental processing, pattern recognition and communication skills. The viperwolf has opposable thumbs on its legs that allow it to grab objects much like a na'vi or human.
  • The Hometree, Kelutrel. The Hometree stands over 150 meters tall, and is roughly thirty meters in diameter, large enough to house dozens of Na'vi. The tree is honeycombed with natural hollows and alcoves in which the Na'vi sleep, eat, weave, dance, and celebrate their connection to Eywa. Like many sacred sites on Pandora, Hometree sits above a large deposit of unobtainium.

Marketing

Cameron, producer Jon Landau, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and Sigourney Weaver appeared at a panel, moderated by Tom Rothman, at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con on July 23. 25 minutes of footage was screened in Dolby 3D. Weaver and Cameron appeared at additional panels to promote the film, speaking on the 23rd and 24th respectively. James Cameron announced at the Comic-Con Avatar Panel that August 21 will be 'Avatar Day'. On this day the trailer for the film was released in all theatrical formats. The official game trailer and toy line of the film were also unveiled on this day.

The 129-second trailer was released online on August 20, 2009. The new 210-second trailer was premiered in theatres with Amelia, Astro Boy, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant and Saw VI on October 23, 2009, and then premiered online on Yahoo! on October 29, 2009, to positive reviews. On November 6, 2009 a third trailer was released in front of Disney's A Christmas Carol, which is almost identical to the 210 second version but including new scenes from the film. An extended version in IMAX 3D received overwhelming positive reviews. The Hollywood Reporter said that audience expectations were coloured by "the same establishment skepticism that preceded Titanic" and suggested the showing reflected the desire for original storytelling. The teaser-trailer has reached the reputation of among the most viewed ones in the history of film marketing, reaching the 1st place of all trailers viewed on Apple.com with 4 million views. On October 30, to celebrate the opening of the first 3D cinema in Vietnam, Fox allowed Megastar Cinema to screen exclusive 16 minutes of Avatar to a number of press.

The three-and-a-half minute trailer of the film premiered live on November 1, 2009 during a Dallas Cowboys football game in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on the Diamond Vision screen, the world's largest video display, and to TV audiences viewing the game on Fox. It is said to be largest live motion picture trailer viewing in history.

The film is heavily promoted in an episode of the Fox Network series Bones in the episode "The Gamer In The Grease" (Season 5, Episode 9). Avatar star Joel David Moore has a recurring role on the program, and is seen in the episode anxiously awaiting the release of the film.

Books
Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora, a 224-page book in the form of a field guide to the film's fictional setting of the planet of Pandora, was released by Harper Entertainment on November 24, 2009. It is presented as a compilation of data collected by the humans about Pandora and the life on it, written by Maria Wilhelm and Dirk Mathison. HarperFestival also released Wilhelm's 48-page James Cameron's Avatar: The Reusable Scrapbook for children. The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure was released on November 30, 2009 by Abrams Books. The book features detailed production artwork from the film, including production sketches, illustrations by Lisa Fitzpatrick, and film stills. Producer John Landau wrote the foreword, Cameron wrote the epilogue, and director Peter Jackson wrote the preface.

Video games
Cameron chose Ubisoft Montreal to create an Avatar game for the film in 2007. The filmmakers and game developers collaborated heavily, and Cameron decided to include some of Ubisoft's vehicle and creature designs into the film. James Cameron's Avatar: The Game was released on December 1, 2009, for most home video game consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS), Microsoft Windows and December 8 for PSP. All versions are rated T by the ESRB.

Action figures
Mattel Toys announced in December 2009, that they are creating Avatar action figures. Each action figure will be made with a 3D web tag, called an i-TAG, that consumers can scan using a web cam, revealing unique on-screen content that is special to each specific action figure. A series of toys representing six different characters from the film is also being distributed in McDonald's Happy Meals.

Release

Avatar premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was released theatrically worldwide from December 16 – 18. The film was originally set for release on May 22, 2009 during filming, but was pushed back to allow more post-production time, and to also give more time for theatres worldwide to install 3-D projectors. Cameron stated that the film's aspect ratio would be 1.78:1 for 3-D screenings and that a 2.39:1 image would be extracted for 2-D screenings. However, the 1.78:1 aspect ratio is actually exclusive to IMAX 3D screenings while all other projection methods (including digital 3-D) use the 2.39:1 extract. The first photo of the film was released on 14 August 2009, and Empire magazine released exclusive images from the film in its October issue.

IMAX Corporation and Twentieth Century Fox announced that James Cameron's Avatar would open in 178 IMAX theatres in the US on December 18, 2009, simultaneously with the motion picture's premiere in conventional theatres. The IMAX 3D release also opened in 83 IMAX theatres internationally starting on December 16, for a total of 261 theatres, making this the widest IMAX release to date. The previous IMAX theatres record was 231, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opened up in 161 IMAX theatres in the US, and about 70 international. Avatar was released in a total of 3457 theatres in the US, of which 2032 theatres are running it in 3D. 90% of all advance ticket sales for Avatar were for 3D screenings.

Box office
Avatar earned $3,537,000 from domestic (United States and Canada) mid-night screenings, partly due to the fact that it was limited to 2,200 3D screens. The film earned $27 million on its opening day and an estimated $73 million over its opening weekend domestically, making it the second largest December opening ever, despite a blizzard which blanketed the Northeastern United States in snow having possibly hurt its opening weekend box office gross. Avatar's worldwide gross is estimated to total $232,180,000 after three days, the ninth largest opening-weekend gross of all time, and the largest for a non-franchise, non-sequel and original film.

Before its release, various film critics and fan communities predicted the film would be a significant "bomb/flop" at the box office, much like had been thought of Cameron's previous film Titanic (though it later became a worldwide success). This criticism ranged from Avatar's film budget, to its concept and use of 3-D "blue cat people". After attending an "Avatar Day" preview, Slate magazine's Daniel Engber wrote that while the 3-D effects look "pretty darn" good, the film's CGI scenes bear an unfortunate and uncanny resemblance to the Jar Jar Binks-era of Star Wars films.

Box office analysts' opinions differed from much of the Internet criticism about the film. Traditional analysts estimated that the film would be a box office success. "The holy grail of 3-D has finally arrived," said Jeff Bock, box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "This is why all these 3-D venues were built: for Avatar. This is the one. The behemoth." The "cautionary estimate" was that Avatar would bring in around $60 million in its opening weekend. Bock felt that the number would fall between $80 million and 100 million, or more than that. Jeffrey Wells of "Hollywood Elsewhere" quoted a box-office seer who believed Avatar would make about $70 million on its opening weekend. Additionally, analysts believed the film's three-dimensionality would help its box office performance, given that recent 3-D films had been successful.

Cameron said he felt the pressure of the predictions, but that pressure is good for film-makers. "It makes us think about our audiences and what the audience wants," he stated. "We owe them a good time. We owe them a piece of good entertainment." Cameron did not want to preach to the audience, but rather "bring them in" and make sure they have a good time.

Regarding sentiment that Avatar would need "repeat business" to be a true success, Cameron agreed that "sharing" is a part of successful films. "When people have an experience that's very powerful in the movie theatre, they want to go share it. They want to grab their friend and bring them, so that they can enjoy it," he said. "They want to be the person to bring them the news that this is something worth having in their life. That's how Titanic worked." He said he was relieved Avatar was being heavily criticized:

I think if everybody was embracing the film before the fact, the film could never live up to that expectation. Having that doubt, having it be controversial right now, having people arguing about it, I think is absolutely the healthy place. Have them go with some sense of wanting to find the answer. When they sit down in that movie theatre and the lights go down.

Critical reception
The film received generally positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports the film as holding an 83% "Fresh" approval rating based on 203 reviews. Among the site's top critics, the film has received a 94% "Fresh" approval rating based on 32 reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the film holds a "Universal acclaim" score of 83 based on 34 reviews.

Film critic Roger Ebert called the film "extraordinary" and gave it four stars out of four. "Watching Avatar, I felt sort of the same as when I saw Star Wars in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations," he said. "Avatar is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough." Todd McCarthy of Variety also praised the film, stating, "The King of the World sets his sights on creating another world entirely in Avatar, and it's very much a place worth visiting." Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review. "The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-'em-ups you care to mention," he stated. On the other hand, critic Armond White of the New York Press described the film as a "simple-minded anti-industrial critique" and also as the "corniest movie ever made about the white man’s need to lose his identity and assuage racial, political, sexual and historical guilt".

Parallels have been drawn between the premise of Avatar and that of Poul Anderson's 1957 short story "Call Me Joe", where a paralyzed man uses his mind to remotely control an alien body. Other reviews have compared it to the films Ferngully, and Pocahontas. Cameron himself acknowledged that the film is thematically similar to "classic 'going-native'" films such as Dances with Wolves and At Play in the Fields of the Lord.

Awards and nominations
Avatar won pre-release two awards: the Visual Effects Society gave James Cameron the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Santa Barbara International Festival picked Cameron for the prime award, the Lucky Brand Modern Master Award. Avatar has also been picked for nomination for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

The New York Film Critics Online have honored the film with "Best Picture" award. The film also received nine nominations for the Critics' Choice Awards of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, including those for "Best Picture" and "Best Director". St. Louis Film Critics have nominated the film for two of its annual awards - "Best Visual Effects" and "Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film". The film was a runner-up for the best "Production Design" award of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association annual awards. The film also picked up four nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards including "Best Motion Picture - Drama", "Best Director", "Best Film Score" and "Best Film Song". The Austin Film Critics Association and the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association have placed the film on their top ten films of the year lists, while Chicago Film Critics Association has nominated the film for its annual "Best Cinematography" and "Best Original Score" awards. The Las Vegas Film Critics Society has awarded the film with "Best Art Direction" award.