Avatar, an American science fiction epic film written and directed by film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, and inventor James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang, was first released in London by Twentieth Century Fox, headquartered in Century City, Los Angeles.
"The film is set in the year 2154 on Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centauri star system. Humans are engaged in mining Pandora's reserves of a precious mineral, while the Na'vi—a race of indigenous humanoids—resist the colonists' expansion, which threatens the continued existence of the Na'vi and the Pandoran ecosystem. The film's title refers to the genetically engineered bodies used by the film's characters to interact with the Na'vi.
"Avatar had been in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote an 80-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, as well as the language and culture of the Na'vi. He said sequels would be possible if Avatar was successful, and in response to the film's success, confirmed that there will be another two.
"The film was released in traditional 2-D, as well as 3-D, RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, and IMAX 3D formats. Avatar is officially budgeted at $237 million; other estimates put the cost at $280–310 million to produce and $150 million for marketing. 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.
"Avatar premiered in London, UK on December 10, 2009, and was released on December 18, 2009 in the US and Canada to critical acclaim and commercial success. It grossed $27 million on its opening day domestically (in the United States and Canada) and $77 million domestically on its opening weekend. It opened two days earlier internationally and grossed $232 million worldwide in its first five days of international release. Within three weeks of its release, with a worldwide gross of over $1 billion, Avatar became the second highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, exceeded only by Cameron's previous film, Titanic" (Wikipedia article on Avatar (2009 film), accessed 01-16-2010).
♦ From my perspective the most significant aspect of Avatar, apart from its breathtaking computer graphic animation, and the fascinating artificial culture and language of the Na'vi, was the convincing portrayal of a total virtual reality experience, and the interplay between virtual reality, the reality of earth-born humans, some of whom animated the avatars, and the different reality of the Na'vi. The film presented visions of a reality that I could not have imagined before viewing. In its presentation of new views of reality it is reminiscent of the 1982 film, Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott.
Another aspect of the film that was highly timely was its depiction of the struggle between destructive exploitation of natural resources versus living in harmony with nature.