Back when Avatar was released in 2009, it was considered a benchmark in movies that heavily relied on CGI and other special effects to bring all the aspects of the world of Pandora to life. Everyone thought that James Cameron wouldn’t be wasting his time in making a sequel as soon as possible, but he soon disappeared off the map.
But as of today, the highly anticipated sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time is currently awaiting its release next month, and it might just be worth all the wait. Meanwhile, here’s a little excerpt from an interview that Cameron recently gave in which he recalls the time he was so paranoid that someone would steal his billion-dollar idea from him.
How James Cameron Made Sure That People Don’t Steal His Avatar Idea
James Cameron is a very peculiar man. It’s common knowledge among members of the movie industry that the man is a pretty hard shell to crack, considering the fact that they all say working with him is asking for a tough time.
But it’s that dedication and attention to detail that has brought Cameron this far, earning him the repute of having this innate ability to make blockbuster movies that can sell in the billions, as we have seen with Avatar and Titanic.
However, with such prowess comes a lot of people who will be actively looking to steal your ideas without your knowledge. Cameron isn’t excluded from the dangers of idea theft, but the 68-year-old director has a counter to this, and it’s simple and effective.
During a recent interview with GQ, the Aliens director described how the concept of Avatar came to be-
“I woke up after dreaming of this kind of bioluminescent forest with these trees that look kind of like fiber-optic lamps and this river that was glowing bioluminescent particles and kind of purple moss on the ground that lit up when you walked on it.”
“And these kinds of lizards that didn’t look like much until they took off. And then they turned into these rotating fans, kind of like living Frisbees, and they come down and land on something. It was all in the dream.”
What would be a billion-dollar idea also required some sort of protection, especially for people looking to steal the very idea described above. Cameron continues, explaining how important it was for him to draw down everything he dreamt of-
“So I actually have a drawing. It saved us from about 10 lawsuits. Any successful film, there’s always some freak with tinfoil under their wig that thinks you’ve beamed the idea out of their head. And it turned out there were 10 or 11 of them.”
That certainly worked out. He currently has a net worth going above the $500 million mark, so it was worth the time he spent drawing out his most profitable work.
James Cameron Refused To Make This Major Change To Avatar
Studio executives are known to be quite a pain in the bum for directors mainly because they suggest, and sometimes even worse, mandate the director to make major changes to a movie, essentially nullifying their artistic freedom.
James Cameron, however, is a pretty resilient man, and he definitely wasn’t having the talk of this one Fox exec who suggested that he trim off the runtime of Avatar back in 2009. During the very same GQ interview, The Terminator director revealed the scathing reply that he gave to the exec, and honestly it sounds pretty brutal-
“I said something I’ve never said to anybody else in the business- ‘I think this movie is going to make all the f**king money. And when it does, it’s going to be too late for you to love the film. The time for you to love the movie is today. So I’m not asking you to say something that you don’t feel, but just know that I will always know that no matter how complimentary you are about the movie in the future when it makes all the money.'”
“And that’s exactly what I said, in caps, ‘ALL THE MONEY,’ not some of the money, all the f-cking money. I said, ‘You can’t come back to me and compliment the film or chum along and say, “Look what we did together.” You won’t be able to do that.'”
“At that point, that particular studio executive flipped out and went bug sh-t on me. And I told him to get the f-ck out of my office. And that’s where it was left.”
That’s a lot of words to essentially tell the exec to leave him and his movie alone. Regardless, it is a testimony of how confident James Cameron is in himself and in the effort that he puts into perfecting his movies.
Avatar: The Way Of Water releases in theaters on December 16, 2023.