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(2009)

Trivia

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The Na'vi language was created entirely from scratch by linguist Dr. Paul R. Frommer. James Cameron hired him to construct a language that would be easy for actors to pronounce but would not resemble any human language. Frommer created about 1,000 words.
At the time of auditioning, Sam Worthington was living in his car.
This movie took four years to make, from pre-production to release.
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Most of the animal noises heard in the movie are recycled dinosaur noises from Jurassic Park (1993), notably the T-Rex and the Raptors'.
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James Cameron originally planned to have the film completed for release in 1999. At the time, the special effects he wanted increased the budget to $400 million. No studio would fund the film, and it was shelved for eight years.
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Sam Worthington, an Australian, said in an interview that it was easier for him to master the Na'vi language than the American accent.
According to Sam Worthington, he was invited to the casting via a phone call. The person who called told him nothing about the script, nor did they even tell him the director's name and Worthington was disappointed at first, thinking it was "another waste of time."
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James Cameron was convinced that CGI effects had progressed enough to make this film when he saw Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).
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Director James Cameron, known for being tough on set, allegedly kept a nail gun on set that he would use to nail cell phones that had the misfortune of ringing to a wall above the exit sign.
The cigarettes that Sigourney Weaver's character "smokes" are computer-generated.
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Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal were the studio's first choices to play Jake Sully, but James Cameron decided to cast then relatively unknown Sam Worthington in the lead role.
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James Cameron's first directorial feature since Titanic (1997), which was the highest-grossing film of all time--until this one.
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Jake's atrophied legs were prosthetics cast from the legs of a real paraplegic. Sam Worthington's real legs were tucked into the wheelchair and digitally removed in post-production.
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The book Grace picks up in the abandoned school is "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss. Like the plot of the film, the book is about a forest full of beautiful trees and mystical creatures that are destroyed by man's lust for ever-growing industry.
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James Cameron wanted an unknown actor to play Jake Sully, because it would give the character a "real" quality--the guy you want to have a beer with, who ultimately becomes the leader who transforms a whole world.
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Composer James Horner stated that this was his most difficult film and the biggest challenge of his career. He said in an interview that he worked on the music from 4:00 am to 10:00 pm for a year and a half.
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To help the actors prepare for their roles, director James Cameron took the cast and crew to Hawaii, where they spent their days trekking through the forests and jungles in order to get a better sense of what it would be like to live and move around in the jungle on Pandora, since there would not be any actual jungle sets to aid and guide the actors and crew. Zoe Saldana even dressed up as a warrior during these journeys, complete with an alien tail symbolic of the one her character has in the movie. These hikes were only done during the daytime, however, as the cast and crew spent their nights at a Four Seasons hotel.
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All animals on Pandora have six limbs, except for the humans and Na'vi.
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Avatars have eyebrows and five digits per hand and foot while the Na'vi only have four digits and no eyebrows. The Avatars are also broader in the chest and arms, appearing more "muscular."
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According to James Cameron, the Na'vi are blue to create a conceptual parallel with traditional Hindu depictions of God (e.g., Vishnu and his later "avatars" - a Sanskrit word meaning "a manifestation of divinity in bodily form" - such as Rama, Krishna, etc.) but also because Cameron just likes the color blue.
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Some CGI scenes took an average of 47 hours to render.
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To appease 20th Century Fox's fears, and remembering the harrowing experience of Titanic (1997) and its production overruns and costly delays, James Cameron promised to forgo his director's fee if "Avatar" flopped.
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James Cameron disclosed on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (2009) that he began working on preliminary drafts of his movie as early as the mid-'90s. Because his visual concepts were so avant-garde, the technology required to consummate his vision was not then available. Not until 2005 was he able to proceed with viable script scenarios.
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"Unobtainium" is a humorous term used mainly in the aerospace industry. It describes a material that is perfect for an application (but does not exist), is extremely expensive, or violates the laws of physics. Its chemical symbol is Uo. "Unobtainium" is also a general concept term used by sci-fi enthusiasts for any fictional substance that is needed to build a certain device that is crucial to the plot of a sci-fi story. "Unobtainium" is featured in The Core (2003), where the earth-boring vessel called the "Virgil" has a hull made from unobtainium to help it withstand the massive pressures inside the Earth's core. "Unobtainium" is also an anti-gravity element in the online multi-player video game "Skyrates." Finally, "Unobtanium" is a term used by the Oakley sunglasses company which refers to the material used in certain nose and earpieces. According to the Oakley website, its properties allow it to maintain its grip despite the presence of perspiration.
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James Cameron conceptualized "Avatar" after watching Disney's animated film Pocahontas (1995). He initially wanted Q'orianka Kilcher to play Neytiri, after seeing her play Pocahontas in The New World (2005).
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The movie is 40% live action and 60% photo-realistic CGI. A lot of motion capture technology was used for the CGI scenes.
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First movie to ever cross the U.S. $2-billion mark worldwide (and later the U.S. $2.5-billion mark), making it the highest-grossing film in history (not adjusting for inflation) at the time (until briefly dethroned by Avengers: Endgame and then reclaiming it's place when it was released in China.).
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The whooping and cackling sounds made by the wolf-like predators on Pandora are actually real spotted hyena calls.
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Any scene with Zoe Saldana was done 100% physically, facially and vocally all at the same time. It took a year to capture and transfer all of that to Neytiri.
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In much of the movie, Dr. Augustine's avatar wears a Stanford tank top. Sigourney Weaver attended Stanford in the early 1970s.
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The multiple breathing orifices seen on the larger animals of Pandora were inspired by the air intakes on the sides of sports cars.
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The first completely digitally shot movie to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
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The word "avatar" is Sanskrit for "incarnation." It is used extensively in Hindu scriptures to refer to human incarnations of God.
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In the film's original ending, Neytiri was going to be pregnant with Jake's child.
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The spiral-shaped, retracting creatures Jake encounters early in the film are giant versions of Christmas Tree Worms, a marine invertebrate commonly kept in reef aquariums.
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One of the most expensive movies ever made (as of December 2009), with an estimated budget of $280,000,000 (in U.S. dollars).
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While the movie was often described as "anti-war" by critics and fans, James Cameron repeatedly said in interviews that the film was not inspired by or commenting on any specific conflicts or any specific nation's overall foreign or defense policies. Cameron also said that the film DID have a brutally strong pro-environmentalist message on purpose because, as he put it, "I am a tree-hugger."
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Sigourney Weaver plays a James Cameron persona for her character in this film. Sigourney stated in an interview, "I teased him because to me I'm playing Jim Cameron in the movie as this kind of brilliant, approach-driven, idealistic perfectionist. But that same somebody has a great heart underneath. So I have to say I was always kind of channeling him."
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The actors playing the Na'vi had cameras attached to their heads so that they filmed close-ups of their faces. Dots painted on their faces allowed motion-capture software to record their facial expressions, providing a "framework" from which the CG artists worked.
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Michael Biehn was considered for the role of Col. Quaritch. James Cameron rejected him because he'd already cast Sigourney Weaver, and he didn't want people to think it was Aliens (1986) all over again.
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The Na'vi were partially inspired by a dream James Cameron's mother had about a tall, blue woman. The idea of humans landing on an alien planet with a toxic atmosphere which necessitates breathing masks was an unused element from an original story Cameron had once written called "Mother"; the rest of the story had been used as the basis for his screenplay for Aliens (1986).
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The first of five proposed Avatar films.
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According to a CNN report, James Cameron visited the Brazilian rain forest more than once after receiving outcries from tribal leaders inspired by his film. During one visit, Cameron was akin to a real-life Jake Sully; with warpaint on his face, and a spear in his hand, he met with 18 Indigenous leaders to plan a battle to stop the construction of a proposed dam.
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Grace's avatar was the most difficult to realize. Sigourney Weaver's face wasn't a natural mesh with the features of a Na'vi. Her narrow, patrician nose did not translate well to the distinctive leonine Na'vi nose. Moreover Grace's avatar was to have been created 18 years in the past, so her avatar had to appear as an 18-years-younger version of Grace/Sigourney, so artists at Stan Winston Studio brought pictures of Sigourney Weaver from Alien (1979) into ZBrush and used them to sculpt her avatar.
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Col. Quaritch mentions that being on Pandora made him feel "like a shavetail Looie." "Shave tail" was a term originally used in the 19th century among U.S. cavalry regiments. Newly assigned cavalry troopers were given horses with a shaved tail, to let other troopers know that the rider was dangerously inexperienced and should be given extra room to maneuver during training. "Looie" is a nickname for lieutenant, the two lowest ranks--2nd Lieutenant is lowest, with 1st Lieutenant being one step above it--for Marine Corps and Army Officers.
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The word "na'vi" in Hebrew means prophet. A na'vi is a visionary or someone who communicates directly with God. Its plural, nevi'im, also refers to the prophetic books of the bible, which include "Daniel," "Micah," and "Isaiah."
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There are striking similarities between the movie and the "Destination: Void" universe depicted by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom in the science fiction novels, "The Jesus Incident" and "The Lazarus Effect." In the novels, an alien planet called Pandora is home to a global network of sentient kelp in which the minds of the deceased also continue to exist. The kelp, as well as other native lifeforms on the planet, are linked into a large entity with a shared consciousness, called "Avata."
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Despite understanding the Na'vi are not placental mammals, James Cameron insisted from the start that Neytiri should have breasts so as to look hot from a human's point of view.
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In James Cameron's films, allies to the main characters often have Catholic references. In Aliens (1986), this ally was called "Bishop;" in The Abyss (1989), it was "Monk." In "Avatar," Sigourney Weaver plays a character called Grace Augustine. Saint Augustine was a Catholic monk who brought Christianity to pagan England, and became Archbishop. One manner of address for an Archbishop is "Your Grace."
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The first movie to be shot with a 3D camera, released in 3D and in IMAX 3D to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award.
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Twenty of the world's top creature designers worked with James Cameron on the film, as well as character designs and landscape designs, all for the hardware, amp suits and the helicopters. Eighteen months was spent on design. James Cameron wanted the creatures to be plausible so their form and function were interrelated--e.g., if a creature has four wings, how does it fly, do the wings move together or the opposite way or 90 degrees out of phase like they do in the film with one wing moving and the other acting as a stabilizer, but if they need to climb or make a rapid escape all four wings beat furiously. All the six-legged creatures in the film move like ants, in that their four front legs move together but the rear two move separately.
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The film reached the U.S. $500-million mark in 32 days, beating The Dark Knight (2008)'s previous record of 45 days. James Cameron's previous film, Titanic (1997), took 98 days to reach the mark.
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Ey'wa, the deity of the Na'vi people, is a mixed-up pronunciation of "Yahweh," the God of the Hebrews.
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According to James Cameron, the design of the mountains in the film is inspired by the mountains around southern China, in particular, ZhangJiaJie. One of China's national park mountains has been renamed Avatar Hallelujah Mountain because of this film.
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The film was reportedly conceived in the 1990s - an era when "Save the Rainforest" was a popular phrase in society. Americans and other countries were highly vocal in protest over industrial slashing and burning of Amazon rain forests and forced displacement of Indigenous peoples. By the time the technology was finally available to make this film, the movement's popularity had faded significantly.
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One of the artist working on the film was Chuck Comisky, who had once introduced director James Cameron to the world of filmmaking by giving him a job as a model maker on Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). Cameron returned the favor by making Comisky visual effects artist on Avatar.
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Grace mentions there are ten to the fourth connections between each tree, and ten to the 12th trees on Pandora, and that this is more than the human brain. In scientific notation, "ten to the fourth" is 10,000, and "ten to the 12" is one trillion. This makes for a total of ten to the 16th, or ten quadrillion, connections. The human brain has an average of 100 trillion.
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The first time Sigourney Weaver has appeared in a James Cameron film since Aliens (1986). Cameron said that he didn't want to cast her at first, exactly because "she was [his] safest choice to play the botanist." Jodie Foster and Jamie Lee Curtis were considered for the role of Dr. Grace Augustine.
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When Trudy (Michelle Rodriguez) refers to needing to fly VFR, she is referring to the Visual Flight Rules, where a pilot, accurately enough, needs to see where they are going.
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The common spirit of Pandora, where every creature is constantly connected to each other, and the planet itself, is based on the concept of Gaia, described in Isaac Asimov's novel "Foundation's Edge" (1982).
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The cap that Norm Spellman wears during his first trip into the Pandoran jungle has Braille symbols on it that represent "#1969," or "Number 1969," the year when humans first landed on the moon.
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For the avatars the similarity to the humans portraying them had to be evident, at least for the face. Plaster casts and 3D scans of the actors were made for this purpose. The artists at Stan Winston Studio retained the mouth area and the area around the eyes of the subject actors and blended these features into their avatar faces. Na'vi eyes are cat-like, large and yellow, but the area around those eyes kept the shape and proportion of the actors who who played them. The Stan Winston Studo artists took lifecasts of the actors and actresses, then did a clay press-out and sculpted that into a Na'vi or avatar character. These full-size versions of the Na'vi were used on set for lighting references for CG and to provide useful eyelines for the actors.
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In an obvious nod to Alien (1979), James Cameron has an early long shot showing the company ship, ISV Venture Star, approaching Pandora. This is identical to the long shot in Alien (1979), when the Nostromo is approaching LV-426, the planetoid where they are receiving the signal from.
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James Cameron considers "Avatar" different from anything he's made before. He said making the film was "a complete leap into the unknown. Like a jump off a cliff and madly fabricating a parachute on the way down. It's a lot of fun to be out on the edge and know that you're doing something nobody's ever done before."
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The concept of lower gravity on Pandora was the justifcation for the evolution of giant fliers like banshee or the great leonopteryx. Both creatures were conceived as bird-like four-winged aerial predators, extremely colorful and very bright. The references and inspiration for the banshee (and the giant leonopteryx, too) came from sea creatures such as manta rays, skates and the great white shark. While sea-creature biology informed the profiles and bodies of the flying creatures, their aerodynamic and hydrodynamic characteristics incorporated the most current thinking of the way extinct species such as plesiosaurs and pterosaurs moved through water and air. But the most unique feature of the banshee was the articulation and mechanics of its mouth and teeth. Skin of both the banshee and the great leonopteryx has a wide range of complex color schemes based on Earth animals, like poison dart frogs and monarch butterflies. Their wings were a mixture of bird and bat wings. And while banshee has only vestigial legs, the great leonopteryx legs are not vestigial at all!
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The first attack uses a gas called CN20, the same gas the Marines wanted to use in Aliens.
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Avatar is Sigourney Weaver's seventh science fiction film. The film was released 30 years after Sigourney Weaver's breakthrough film Alien (1979). James Cameron directed Sigourney Weaver in the sequel Aliens (1986). Avatar is the second film which Cameron and Weaver have worked together on.
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Na'vi have only hints of eyebrows which made the facial animation a bit more difficult, since eyebrow movements are often a critical part of human emotional expression.
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James Cameron wanted Mauro Fiore to photograph this film because he admired Fiore's lush jungle photography in Tears of the Sun (2003). Fiore agreed after a 30-minute meeting with Cameron, followed by a two-hour guided tour of the constructed sets with Jon Landau.
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Mo'at, the spiritual leader of the Na'vi tribe, is referred to by the title "tsahik". It sounds similar to the Hebrew "tsaddik", meaning an individual of outstanding virtue and piety. The term is often applied to an especially knowledgeable interpreter of Biblical law and scriptures.
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The Na'vi people have four fingers on each hand, while the avatars have five fingers. This is how you can tell them apart.
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When the woodsprites land on Jake's avatar, they cover every part of his body apart from his legs. It is as if they know his real body is paraplegic.
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In the original draft, Jake's name was Josh, while Neytiri's was Zuleika (a real female name of Arabic origin, meaning "fair", "brilliant" and "lovely"). Grace Augustine was named Shipley in earlier drafts.
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The concept of a network of trees, in which minds of the deceased continue to exist, appears in several novels of the "Ender" series by Orson Scott Card, most prominently in "Speaker for the Dead." Just like in the movie, the trees in the novel are sacred to the native (remotely humanoid) inhabitants, who tolerate the presence of a small human colony on their world until cultural misunderstandings lead to conflict.
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There are two sound effects borrowed from Jurassic Park (1993) creatures. During Jake's run from the panther-like Thanator, it roars at him, using a T-Rex roar. Later, when Jake is learning to ride the horse-creature, Pale, she makes a barking noise, like that of the Velociraptors in the kitchen scene.
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James Cameron said "some of the design choices were about colors affecting us psychologically, which is why the film has such a striking color palette, like the early days of color cinematography where everything had to be bright and vibrant."
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Another early concept was that Pandora's animals would have six limbs rather than the Earthly norm of four. ILM successfully animated a six-legged viperwolf hunting. The extra legs looked appropriately graceful and powerful in motion, so all of the terrestrial creatures got six limbs and these extra limbs led the design team to incorporate an extra pair of wings on the flying creatures.
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James Cameron felt it was remarkable that 25 years into his career, he was making a film and not knowing what to do.
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According to director James Cameron, Pandora is a moon in the planetary system of the star Alpha Centauri A. In Pandora's night sky the Earth's sun, just four light years away, would then be the brightest star in the constellation Cassiopeia.
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The film takes place from 2148 to 2154.
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Jake's atrophied legs were prosthetics created by Stan Winston Studio. John Rosengrant took a mold from the legs of a paraplegic who was approximately Sam's skeletal size, and then created rubber legs. Sam's actual legs were tucked down through the chair and digitally removed in post-production.
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Jake Sully's initials (J.S.) are the same as John Smith, a central figure in the historical and often romanticized story of Pocahontas. This film shares many similarities with the Pocahontas story in plot and theme. Like John Smith, Sully is a member of an invading force who falls in love with a tribal princess, after learning her customs.
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In designing Neytiri, one of the challenges was making her look sufficiently alien but with enough familiar and appealing aspects to make Jake's attraction to her seem natural and convincing. Her lithe but powerful athleticism was central to her characterization.
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James Cameron based the design of Neytiri's costumes on a taparrabo, a loincloth thing worn by Mayan peoples.
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On one of the posters for the film, an image of the right side of Neytiri's face is shown. If you look very closely at her eyeball, you can see a reflection of the forest trees of Pandora on it.
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English surrealist Roger Dean is not credited in the film, although several locations look very similar to his paintings, most notably "Floating Islands" and "Arches".
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In the UK, the film was shipped in two parts, under the code name "Redbird." Reels 1-5 were delivered first; 6-10 came the following day.
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Production on the movie began in 2002.
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The lean body and graceful motion of the mink inspired the design of the viperwolf. Jim Charmatz rendered the concept artwork in Photoshop, then Scott Patton did a 3D model of the head in ZBrush. Stan Winston Studio created a viperwolf puppet scaled to human proportions used for the scene in which viperwolves chase Jake through the forest. The puppet was strapped to calibrators and had patterns that the mocap system could recognize for integration into the scene and to guide the animation. This puppet had the necessary "viperwolf weight" to help sell the illustion of weight and actual impact with actor Sam Worthington in the scene when this beast knocks Jake down.
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The joystick and throttle, used to remote-control the bulldozer, is a set of modified Saitek X52 Pro. Those are designed to control airplanes in flight and combat simulator programs.
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The first (and only, as of 2010) science fiction feature film by James Cameron that does not involve or mention nuclear weapons.
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The first film to gross $700 million domestically in the US. James Cameron's previous film, Titanic (1997), was the first film to gross $500 and $600 million domestically.
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Was the most pirated film of 2010 (16.58 million downloads on BitTorrent), ahead of Kick-Ass (2010) at #2 (11.4 million downloads) and Inception (2010) at #3 (9.72 million downloads).
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An early idea for Pandora was that the sky would be purple and the plants would be blue, but James Cameron felt the Na'vi being blue was challenge enough and just let the greenery be green.
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Zoe Saldana's Star Trek (2009) co-star Chris Pine and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) co-star Chris Pratt auditioned for Jake Sully. Pine has said it was his worst audition ever.
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James Cameron claimed that he cast Sam Worthington as Jake Sully over other actors who auditioned for the role on the strength of his delivery of the "This is our land!" speech. His only reservation was that Worthington spoke in a thick Australian accent, and was inexperienced playing an American character. Cameron took the chance that Worthington would be able to trained by the dialect coach to speak in a colloquial American accent in time for filming.
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On May 27th, 2017, the long anticipated Pandora: World of Avatar opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom to good reviews and large crowds. The main attraction, Flight of Passage, has been reported to be reaching lines averaging two hours.... four hours most days - April 2019
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Before James Cameron left for his 1995 undersea expedition to the Titanic, his 80-page treatment for AVATAR was already complete, but the necessary technology did not exist to achieve his story and vision. AVATAR gathered dust till early 2005, when advances in digital technology made it possible to tell the story the way he imagined. Under the code name of "Project 880" which was a "retooled version of AVATAR," the conceptual process began, along with the technical research and development.
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Matt Damon once revealed that he turned down an offer from James Cameron to star in Avatar, which would have netted him 10% of the movie's profits (an estimated $290m as of 2022). He said it was due to him still working on The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) at the time.
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Calling the sizable pallets of explosives on-board the shuttle "Daisy Cutters" refers to the BLU-82B, a 15,000-lb. bomb and the largest non-nuclear weapon the US Air Force had at its disposal (until 2008, when the MOAB was deployed), designed to flatten landing areas in jungle zones.
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The direhorse was intended to be a creature that Na'vi warriors use for riding and hunting. Conceived as a sort of horse crossed with a dinosaur, it had to incorporate reptilian aspects while maintaining a horse's natural grace and glory. The main terrestrial inspiration for the designers was the Clydesdale horse with its massive scale and strength. Based on Wayne Barlowe's concept, Christopher Swift sculpted the final direhorse maquette. Joseph C. Pepe did design modifications and color designs in Photoshop that ended up serving as the final design scheme for the movie. As with all the terrestrial creatures, getting the six legs to work together and make them seem natural and still beautiful and graceful was one of the greatest challenges. The animators ultimately achieved a natural-looking gallop by coupling the front four legs, but off-setting the movement of the first pair by a few degrees.
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The Extended Collector's Edition DVD/Blu-Ray set has a collection of deleted scenes. The last one, titled "New Life", shows Neytiri pregnant. It also shows the starship Venture Star leaving Pandora. The music score heard in this short deleted scene is a snippet from the track "Civilisations Brought By Sea" from the soundtrack of the 2006 movie "Apocalypto". That movie also features a plot about native warriors encountering an advanced civilization and James Horner, the composer for "Avatar", also scored that film.
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The tree, Eh'wa, also bears a resemblance to the Hindi/Aramic/Urdu word "Hewa," which, in English, means "Eve." "Eve" in Hebrew means "The Giver of Life," an entity from which all life arises. Also, in the Bible, Eve is tempted to eat from the Tree. The word na'vi bears close resemblance to the Arabic/Hindi/Urdu word for Nabi, meaning "prophet." "Avatar" is Hindi for the "incarnated one." Lord Krishna was one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. Some Hindus believe that Lord Buddha was also an avatar of Vishnu, preceding Krishna.
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Neytiri's warpaint has a human handprint, implying Jake helped her apply it.
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Weta Digital and ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) had previously worked together on Contact (1997), Van Helsing (2004), and Eragon (2006), making "Avatar" their fourth collaboration.
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In the Thai version, Jake Sully is a "Navi" who becomes a "Na'vi." The Thai word for Marine is "Na-vig-ga-yo-tin," but the translator shortened it to make the voice-over sync.
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The brand of Jake's wheelchair is "Grunt", which is another term for a marine infantryman.
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It was the highest grossing movie for ten years with $2,789,700,000 until Avengers: Endgame (2019) beat it with $2,790,216,193.
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The highest-grossing film in post-communist Russia. It earned $111,411,877 there and a total of 13.3 million tickets was sold (as of March 2010).
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Some of Avatar's story was actually based on one of James Cameron's other past projects: a futuristic action thriller titled Screaming Steel. Originally, the story was written by Cameron around 1981, and in 1991, after massive success of Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Cameron and his writing partner Randall Frakes, who also wrote novelizations of Cameron's both Terminator films, started working on it again. Frakes wrote the first version of the screenplay which Cameron thought was good, but he still decided to hired several other screenwriters to write their own versions. One of them was J.F. Lawton, who was hired after lot of positive reactions he got for his original spec for Under Siege (1992) titled Dreadnought which he sold to Warner Bros. for $1 million. The story of Screaming Steel took place in run down future inside walled-off Los Angeles full of rich elites, with violent street gangs riding flying motor bikes and ruling the areas outside in what's left of destroyed streets. One of the teenagers inside the city, who's also a son of one of the top elites of it, meets and saves the female gang member from brutal army-like police force and they both have to escape out of the city, and after she shows him how police and elites are killing hundreds of poor and homeless people and forcing others be their slaves, he agrees to join her gang and after helping them battle other gangs and police, he fights his way to become their new leader thanks to his intelligence with planning hit and run attacks and his skills with riding flying motor bikes, and they declare war to L.A. and police force. However, Screaming Steel never passed writing stages and was left unproduced. When asked about this project around late 2010's, Frakes said how the story was something which he always found interesting and how he tried to get Cameron interested in it, but he was already busy working on all Avatar sequels. Lawton's version of the script can often be found online, and remains as the only version which is available.
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Yunjin Kim appeared as Neytiri in an early test footage.
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The film was thrown into an unwanted spotlight when several filmmakers, including Canadian director John Greyson, put out a press release stating that James Cameron had blocked the movie from being released in Israel, in accordance with the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement (which calls for all Israeli activities to be shunned until Israel acceded to all Palestinian demands to end their conflict). Cameron found out about this when his top producing partner called him, and he was furious about it, as he had no intention of boycotting Israel (or any other nation that wanted to show the film) and Greyson and his colleagues admitted that their original press release was "a joke" that amounted to "wishful thinking" on their part.
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Sigourney Weaver dyed her hair red for the film.
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All of the animals on Pandora have 6 limbs, yet the Na'vi only have 4. James included a scene showcasing the Prolemuris, the link between the Na'vi and the rest of the Animal kingdom, to demonstrate how their shoulders/arms evolved.
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In the extended version, when Jake lies in the gutter having been thrown out of the bar, there's an ad flashing by that says "Discover a new world".
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James Cameron wanted elegant, slender, blue-skinned cat creatures that retained humanoid forms with human-facial characteristics. To capture the look, Jordu Schell created the first concept sculptures and James Cameron responded immediately to them. After approving a general Na'vi design, Stan Winston Studio artists lead by John Rosengrant detailed them in Photoshop to develop the final color and skin texture including stripes and a bioluminescence pattern. The crew created and presented many variations of the Na'vi look, making note, for example, that the color design should still believable as organic flesh rather than artifical body markings. Once Photoshop renderings were approved, the next step in the conceptual process involved the transference to 3D space. Stan Winston Studio took photographs of models in key poses with a variety of facial expressions. Scott Patton brought those to ZBrush to resculpt them as Na'vi characters. They were supposed to resemble their human counterparts to make it easier for audiences to recognize and relate to them. For example Sigourney Weaver's Na'vi avatar retains the actress' distinctive small nose.
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Following the idea of the allegedly derivative plot from other similar movies, two mock trailers were released on the Internet, one with lines from the movie over images from Pocahontas (1995) and the other built the other way round. Both trailers did fit quite neatly.
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The most feared land predator on Pandora is the thanator, similar to a Terrain panther. Originally thanator was called manticore. This was the only design where James Cameron did not have a complete vision in his head. Designing this animal took months and hundreds of illustrations. The name was changed to thanator; and James Cameron himself took on the final design late in the production. Neville Page fleshed-out the design and built it as a Zbrush model.
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Every drawing had to be approved by James Cameron before rendering to Photoshop. Once a rendering was approved by the director, it was transferred from a 2D concept to a 3D digital sculpt in ZBrush. In some cases, clay models were also sculpted and used for visualizing the designs and to provide lighting reference.
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James Cameron felt that after working months and months on the Na'vi and the avatars and the creatures, he stopped thinking about all the work that went into them and just enjoyed the life of those scenes with them.
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James Cameron himself made the first sketches for the different creatures that he imagined might populate Pandora, his new world. Based on those images, as well as reference from the natural world culled from National Geographic photos, botany books and nature documentaries, a core group of artists including Wayne Barlowe, Yuri Bartoli, Jordu Schell and Neville Page began producing hundreds of pencil-and-paper drawings. In mid 2005, Stan Winston Studio also joined the conceptual and character development process working on the viperwolf, direhorse and the banshee's head.
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This became the highest-grossing film of all time in 2010, and held the record until surpassed by Avengers: Endgame (2019) in 2019. This film then retook the title thanks to a 2021 re-release in China, making it the fifth film in history to break the record multiple times, after:
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In early December 2005, a casting call for the female lead was posted on the website of Mali Finn Casting. It erroneously identified the movie as James Cameron's Alita: Battle Angel (2019).
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In Korean, "Na'vi" is spelled like "nabi," the Korean word for "butterfly," and a very common name for cats.
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When Jake reassures Mo'at (the shaman) that he is "empty," it refers to his life being empty. The term "jarhead" is applied to Marines referring to their traditional "high and tight" haircut, and is used by Dr. Augustine when Sully is entering the Avatar link for the first time.
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Quaritch makes it very clear in his opening speech to the new meat that Pandora's wildlife are extremely dangerous. This is borne out at the end, when Eywa decides to send in all Pandora's wildlife to attack the Marine force. What was a rout by the Marines quickly turns into the wildlife showing them what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a battle.
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In 2014 an article entitled "The 1960s Avatar TV Show" was posted to the web, claiming that the film was actually a re-imagining of a science-fiction television series from 1963. It supposedly starred William Shatner as Jake Sully (until being replaced by Roger Ewing in season 3) and featured several images from other 1960s sci-fi films and series, with the actors' skin tinted blue. Despite claiming to be authentic, it was entirely a hoax.
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The movie was re-released in cinemas on August 27, 2010, little under 9 months after the theatrical release, in a Special Edition that featured 9 minutes of additional footage (including some exposition about the Na'vi school, a hunting scene and a longer ending). Both the Theatrical and Special Edition were later released on the Collector's Edition DVD/Blu-ray, which also included a third version, the Collector's Extended Edition, which added a total of 16 minutes to the Theatrical Edition. According to James Cameron, the 7 extra minutes on the Collector's Extended Edition mainly consist of an altered opening of the film on Earth; Cameron had felt that these Earth scenes weren't really necessary for the movie, but when fans indicated their disappointment over those missing sequences, he created the Extended Edition especially for them. He also added that finishing the additional 16 minutes of footage cost about $1 million per minute, an investment that Fox was happy to make since the Theatrical Version had been such a huge hit.
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Promotional items were shipped to cinemas under the name "Project 880."
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
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At the beginning when Col. Quaritch is briefing the men on the situation on Pandora, there are blinds, as well as a metal panel in the top-left corner of the blinds, that resemble an American flag. Oddly enough, the panel has a "50" engraved in it, as 50 is the number of stars on the American flag.
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The biggest challenge in prepping the film for production, besides developing the new 3D Fusion Camera System, was to establish a final design for the Na'vi. All of the digital work to bring the humanoid figures to life was accomplished at Weta Digital, but the designs and detail were based on the characters generated by the Stan Winston Studio. James Cameron himself made the first sketches for all the Pandoran creatures including the Na'vi. Those early sketches already featured the blue skin and feline characteristics such as cat-like eyes, broad leonine noses, large articulating ears, and tall, slender, muscular bodies. A team of artists, Wayne Barlowe, Yuri Bartoli, Jordu Schell and Neville Page, began producing hundreds of pencil-and-paper drawings based on the character sketches and in mid 2005, Stan Winston Studio also joined the AVATAR project to help with the film's designs.
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The six-legged horses introduced near the beginning make grunting noises that are the same noises made by the velociraptors in "Jurassic Park".
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This became the highest-grossing film in South Korea (grossing about $105.48 million) and the first Hollywood movie to sell over ten million tickets in South Korea.
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The 2012 Blu-ray 3D version was the last home video release to be THX certified.
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James Cameron was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, but lost to his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008).
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Can be seen as an adult science fiction version of the 1992 Children's animated movie "Fern Gully.,Last of the Rainforests"
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Was released for a third in international theaters in an attempt to overthrow 'Avengers: Endgame' which had become the highest grossing film in history upon its release in 2019.
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First narrative film directed by James Cameron to not co-star any of the cast members of The Terminator (1984). However, Sam Worthington co-starred in its sequel, Terminator Salvation (2009), which Cameron had no involvement in.
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Neytiri te Tskaha Mo'at'ite, in short Neytiri--who was originally named "Zuleika Te Kaha Polenoma" in James Cameron's Project 880--is the Na'vi princess of the Omaticaya clan, daughter of Eytukan and Mo'at.
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The color blue symbolises trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.
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Before the attack on Hometree while talking to Dr. Augustine, Jake holds a book titled "The Na'vi". The book's author is Phred Palmer, a reference to the film's props buyer.
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One of Michael Mann's favorite films.
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Alicia Vela-Bailey's debut.
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Peter Mensah had appeared in two episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) and Sam Worthington had previously starred in Terminator Salvation (2009) as Marcus Wright. Writer and director James Cameron created the "Terminator" franchise.
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This story is about aliens (the term given to humans in this film) using overwhelming strength to invade and annihilate a peaceful group of local inhabitants... similar to "Aliens".
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Jake Sully and Neytiri have a almost similar relationship to that of Hal Tara and Zita in Strings (2004). Both Jake Sully and Hal Tara goes among the Na'vi and Neytiri with a task. Both Neytiri and Zita are warriors. Neytiri teaches Jake Sully the Na'vi's way of life and Zita teaches Hal Tara the Zerith's origins and how The Zerith's leap. Jake Sully and Hal Tara both fall in love with Neytiri and Zita. Both Jake Sully and Hal Tara get rejected by Neytiri and Zita when they both learn the terrible truths about why they really came to their people and are forced to leave and Jake Sully and Hal Tara both sides with the Na'vi and the Zeriths and they fight back against the corporation and the Hebalonians whom are bent on wiping out both the Na'vi and the Zeriths.
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This is the second James Cameron film to feature an important character named Trudy. Trudy Chacon is a gunship pilot in this film; in "Titanic", Rose has a maid named Trudy Bolt. Both characters die in both films.
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Chris Evans and Channing Tatum were on the shortlist to play Jake Sully.
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The film has a similar plot to Battle for Terra (2007). Both films are about human soldiers whom goes to beautiful planets and they set out to stop their own people from wiping out it's extra terrestrial inhabitants. In both films, Earth is dying.
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Giovanni Ribisi and Wes Studi share the same birthday, December 17th.
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Brie Larson auditioned for a part, but forgets what role exactly.
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At the beginning of the extended collector's edition, Jake is seen watching a TV news report about cloned tigers. A sci-fi film released the year before "Avatar", called "Babylon A.D." starring Vin Diesel also featured cloned tigers.
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Jake's surname is also the name of a blue monster from Monsters Inc. and Monsters University James P. Sullivan aka "Sully."
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In the animated post-apocalyptic fantasy film Wizards (1977), the protagonist was called Avatar. The film was released by 20th Century Fox.
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The prolemuris bear a notable resemblance to Spidermonkey from Ben 10: Alien Force.
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Zoe Saldana's second science fiction movie of 2009, the other is Star Trek.
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One of Stephen Lang's (Quaritch) earlier roles was in Tall Tale, where he played a farmer standing-up to a mining company from developing a fertile valley.
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The CARB Combat Shotguns, were based on Norinco HP9-1/Norinco Hawk 982 shotguns.
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The active firing versions of the Standard Issue Rifle and Personal Defence Weapon contained customized Ruger Mini-14 AC-556 rifle receivers with some fitted with shortened barrels. Some of these PDW rifles almost bear resemblance to Muzzelite MZ14 Bullpups. Due to the strict weapon laws of Australia, neither of these blank firing weapons were present with the Australian filming units, however they were only used by American units regarding to availability.
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The SN-9 WASP revolver is said to have been based on the Russian revolver MP-412 REX which it also bears resemblence to but the original prop was actually assembled around a Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum using CNC machined alloy housings over top of the real weapon. Hammer tang was cut off meaning it could only be fired double action and the prop was designed to appear as though it has a break-open action, however it retains the "flip-out" cylinder of the donor weapon (at some considerable technical effort) in order for it to be able to be loaded and fired (blanks). There was only ONE hero prop, and at least one stunt prop
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Besides Sanume (who is both Tsahìk and Olo'eyktan), Ikeyni is currently the only known female clan leader.
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Ikeyni was unnamed until she was added to Pandora Rising as a Na'vi Commander. Before her official addition to the game, her name was mentioned in Tsentey and Nan'ti's biographies, though her identity as the same Tayrangi leader from the film was not.
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A piece of concept art for an unused Na'vi elder shared by artist Joseph C. Pepe, which is featured in The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure, highlights just how daunting a task it was to create all of Avatar's flora and fauna, especially the Na'vi. Pepe stated: "While working for Stan Winston Studio in late 2004, myself, Christopher Swift and Supervisor John Rosengrant visited James Cameron at Lightstorm Entertainment in Santa Monica, CA to read the Avatar scriptment and receive a download of information and artwork. This was our introduction to begin a two week "trial by fire" process to bring our take to the characters, the Na'vi, for Project 880, the working name of Avatar We were given 14 days to show Cameron "something new, further develop the characters and bring them some new life." At the time, Cameron had stated that the film would be photorealistic once completed and felt the extreme pressure to illustrate something that would impress him. Shown here is the very first image of a Na'vi that I created in a photorealistic style. At the time Cameron did not express any emotion during the review, only that he recognized the Sea Slug bioluminescence that I used on the forehead, Cameron said "That is a Pelagic Nudibranch, Phylliroe bucephala." My mouth agape in total astonishment that not only did he recognize what type of animals' bioluminescence had used, he also knew its scientific name. Fortunately, my dedicated research paid off in a way that I would only understand after working with Cameron for a number of years. He loves research about Earth, Science, Flora, Fauna, Anthropology and Ethnology. Not only is he a genius in filmmaking but also Science and Engineering."
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James Cameron shared with Variety a memorable moment when he took the cast and crew to Hawaii, involving actor Sam Worthington during his audition. "Sam Worthington was literally running around in kind of like a jockstrap, like a loincloth," director said. "He hasn't been in the sun in two years, he's just pure white ... he's got a bow and arrow and he comes around a bend in the path ... and there's a guy walking his poodle. And Sam just instinctively draws his bow and almost shoots the poodle. He was so in character." While Worthington truly embodied the fighting spirit of his character, it would understandably freak out any dog owner, as it did in this instance. Cameron continued, "And the guy said, 'What are you doing?' and Sam says, 'We're making a movie, mate!'"
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A deleted scene gives a glimpse of Jake on Earth. It shows him navigating a futuristic city full of neon billboards, holograms, and crowds of people in a setting reminiscent of Blade Runner (1982). The scene also shows Jake heading home to a small dilapidated apartment. Jake's voiceover reveals what his life is like on Earth. He describes how the economy and subpar veterans' benefits have blocked him from surgery that would repair his spine. And he explains why he joined the Marines and his desire to keep the strong from preying on the weak. Then the scene cuts to Jake's social life, showing him drinking and laughing with friends at a bar. When he sees a man abusing a woman, Jake starts a fight and gets thrown out. "All I ever wanted in my sorry-ass life," he says, "was a single thing worth fighting for." While he lies on the ground, two men in suits approach and tell Jake they need to speak with him about his brother. It's the perfect lead-up to the events that happen at the beginning of the film.
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An often criticized aspect of the film is that its plot is too reminiscent of Disney movie Pocahontas. Then Disney bought Fox and, by definition, holds the rights to the movie.
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The resemblances the Na'vi bear to the Draags from Fantastic Planet, and their role-reversal.
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Director Cameo 

James Cameron: His voice is heard over the radio shortly after the Dragon Gunship appears on screen, en route to attack the Na'vi Hometree.
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Director Trademark 

James Cameron: [feet] Close-up of Jake's feet when he moves them around in the soil; close-up of Col. Quaritch's feet in his first scene; slow-mo focus on the wolf-creature's feet as it circles around Jake's avatar, just before he first meets Neytiri.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the final battle sequence, Neytiri has a white hand print on her chest as part of her warpaint. It has five fingers, indicating that it is Jake's hand (avatars' hands have five fingers while the Na'vi's only have four).
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According to Jake's video logs, the entire film (on Pandora) takes place over a 96-day period. The first log is dated 19 May 2154 and the last is recorded on 24 August 2154, which is Jake's birthday. The final battle takes place during August 2154, 200 years from the date of James Cameron's birth.
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The film's original title was "Project 880." In the original script: Earth and its environmental problems are explored. Josh Sully (Jake) has never even seen a forest, so Grace has to practically hold his hand when they go into the woods. We witness Josh Sully's Avatar being born (he actually "births" himself), and his reaction to walking again is quite different, as it takes him a while to gain any sort of strength, and then he cries. It is revealed the Avatar program originally existed to train Na'vi to be an indigenous workforce for the Corporation, since it is so expensive to send human workers. Obviously, they did not like that; there is an Avatar controller who is burnt out because his Avatar died with him in it. He committed Avatar suicide because he had fallen in love with a Na'vi girl who had been killed by the military; the Avatars have a Na'vi guide named N'Deh, who is sleeping with Grace; Grace survives the soul transfer.
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Stephen Lang has hinted that Col. Quaritch could return for a sequel, saying, "You think those two arrows in my chest are going to stop me from coming back? Nothing's over so long as they've got my DNA."
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When Jake is examining his ponytail, Dr. Augustine states, "Don't play with that, you'll go blind." This is a common phrase that is taught to adolescent boys (referencing their genitalia) to discourage them from masturbating. It is shown later in the film that the Na'vi use their ponytails to link their minds during mating.
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In the scene that introduces the concept of the tree of souls to the viewer, Grace remarks that outsiders are forbidden to go there, but that she would "die to get samples." This turns out to be an unfortunately prophetic figure of speech as later, she is allowed to go to the tree of souls because she is dying. Her first words upon arriving are, "I need to get samples..."
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The RDA (Resources Development Administration)'s private security force members all wear French military rank badges. Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) wears the rank badge of a French colonel. When Trudy Chacón (Michelle Rodriguez) breaks Sully and Augustine out of jail and flies them to the avatar link outpost, the woman alerting Quaritch is shown wearing the three ribbons of a French captain.
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During the aftermath of Home Tree falling, James Horner employs the three-note motif used throughout Enemy at the Gates (2001) and Troy (2004), movies that he also scored.
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Grace Augustine says to Quaritch, "Or what, Ranger Rick, you going to shoot me?" Of course, he eventually does shoot Augustine.
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The first and last character shots are of Jake Sully opening his eyes.
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In the final battle sequence, Col. Quaritch sees Jake on his gunship and pushes the control stick to swerve the ship. Jake loses balance and slides down the ship, where he grabs and hangs on to a missile. This is a reference to True Lies (1994), also directed by James Cameron. In that film, Harry Tasker uses the control stick to swerve the Harrier jet he is flying. The terrorist, who is standing on the jet, loses balance and slides down the wing of the jet, and his suspenders catch on the missile.
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WILHELM SCREAM: When the gas munition hits the ground at the attack of The Home Tree.
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Jake's opening narration "I started having these dreams of flying." foreshadows Jake riding on the Ikran.
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The film bears similarities to The Last Samurai (2003). 1. Both Jake Sully and Nathan Algren are soldiers and are sent to Japan and Pandora to help The Japanese Emperor and the Resources Development Administration (RDA) to deal with Katsumoto and his rebel Samurai and the Na'vi. 2. Both, Nathan Algren and Jake Sully live among the rebel Samurai and the Na'vi and embrace their culture. 3. Both Nathan Algren and Jake Sully fall in love with Taka, a Japanese woman, and a Neytiri, a female Na'vi. Both have family members who were killed in events connected to Nathan and Jake. 4. Both Nathan Algren and Jake Sully side with the rebel Samurai and the Na'vi and they fight back against the Emperor's army and the marines. 5. Both Nathan Algren and Jake Sully kill their superior officers in the final battles: Colonel Bagley and Colonel Miles Quaritch. 6. Both films end with Nathan Algren and Jake Sully deciding to stay in Japan and on Pandora.
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In this film, Zoe Saldana's character Neytiri is an extraterrestrial who falls in love with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a human. In Saldana's earlier film Star Trek (2009), her character Nyota Uhura, a human, falls in love with Spock (Zachary Quinto), an extraterrestrial. Additionally Saldana is extraterrestrial Gamora who falls in love with human Star Lord (Chris Pratt) in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
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In the final battle, Trudy's gunship uses the call signal "Rogue One", and she also dies in the end.
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