“Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream.” – Avatar
The movie that stole our imagination and broke countless box office records in 2010, it’s time to count down some facts about James Cameron’s Avatar.
33. Not all that live
The movie is 40% live action and 60% photo-realistic CGI.
32. The wonders of language
The Na’vi language sounded so genuine for a reason – it was genuine. It was created by linguist Dr. Paul R. Frommer, who was tasked by James Cameron to create a language that can be easily pronounced by humans, yet does not resemble any existing language. Frommer ended up creating about 1,000 words in Na’vi.
31. Reaching the revenue top
It was the first film in history to cross the $2 billion mark worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time (of course, not accounting for inflation).
30. The story behind the blue
One of the alleged sources of the Na’vi’s blue skin colour comes from Cameron’s mother, who had a dream about a tall blue woman.
29. Alternatives for Jake Sully
Before Sam Worthington was cast, Jake Gyllenhaal and Matt Damon were considered for the part. Jake Gyllenhaal was too busy being the whitest Persian ever in The Prince of Persia.
28. The difficulties of the American accent
Sam Worthington revealed that it was easier for him to master the ways of the Na’vi language than to learn an American accent.
27. Lucky timing for Sam
The timing for casting Sam Worthington in the lead could not be any better; the actor was living in his car at the time.
26. One of many films in the pipe
Avatar is just the first installment out of the planned five movies to be set in that universe.
25. This could have been done in 1999
Cameron originally wanted to have the film completed for release in 1999, but the special effects the director wanted would have run the bill up by an extra $400 million and would still not complete his vision. So, he shelved it until later.
24. The leg question
Jake’s atrophied legs were actually prosthetics cast from a real paraplegic’s legs. The actor’s legs were hidden under the wheelchair and removed in post-production.
23. The most eventful three months
If you follow Jake’s logs in the film, the entire plotline of Avatar unfolds over a span of only 96 days. Those are some action-packed days!
22. Disney inspiration
James Cameron has stated that he was inspired to make Avatar after seeing Disney’s Pocahontas.
21. Hair colour changes
Sigourney Weaver dyed her hair red for her role as Grace.
20. The spirit of Pandora
The connective spirit on the planet of Pandora is based on the concept of Gaia, described in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation’s Edge.
19. High time for CGI
Cameron was finally convinced that the time is ripe to make Avatar after he saw the CGI wonder of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
18. Why Sam Worthington?
The reason Cameron cast Worthington in the lead is because he wanted a complete unknown to play Jake, someone you’d want to hang out with and grab a beer.
17. Hours of computer time
Some CGI scenes took an average of 47 hours to render. That’s more than a work week for just one scene, which explains why the film took four years to complete.
16. Struggling with the music
Composer James Horner has stated that he created the score for the film with immense difficulty, often starting work at the crack of dawn and working through until 10 pm for a year and a half!
15. Different colour scheme for Pandora
There was an idea tossed around to make the sky on Pandora purple and the plants blue, but Cameron thought working with the Na’vi being blue was difficult enough and let the plant life stay green.
14. Flipping the perception
The film at its core is about aliens (which in this case are humans), who try to take advantage of a peaceful population of inhabitants on a foreign planet – who to us look like aliens, but from the movie’s angle are not.
13. Get into the jungle spirit
To prepare his cast for their jungle-based roles, Cameron took them to Hawaii, where they spent several days trekking through the forestry as tribes. This was done because there would not be any actual jungle sets during the shooting, since everything is computer-generated.
12. Caught white-handed
In the final battle scene, Neytiri’s war paint includes a white handprint on her chest. The print has five fingers, meaning that it’s Jake’s since the Na’vi only have four digits.
11. Help from the hyenas
The cackling sound the wolf-like animals make in Avatar are recordings of the spotted hyena call.
10. The director’s pay cheque
To make 20th Century Fox happy, especially after going horribly over-budget with Titanic, James Cameron agreed to waive his director’s salary if Avatar flopped at the box office. That obviously did not happen.
9. Familiar noises
Most of the animal noises used in the film are actually recycled dinosaur sounds from Jurassic Park.
8. Horrible smoking habits
The cigarette that Sigourney Weaver is seen smoking is actually computer-generated. No unhealthy habits on the Avatar set, y’all.
7. Avatar cost a pretty penny
Don’t let your jaw drop to the floor with this one, but the film is one of the most expensive ever made – with a price tag of $280 million!
6. The difference between avatars and the Na’vi
Avatars still have five digits and sport eyebrows, whereas the Na’vi have no eyebrows and only four digits. The more you know.
5. Representin’ Stanford
Sigourney Weaver’s avatar wears a Stanford tank top for majority of the film and it so happens that the actress attended the college in the 1970s.
4. Smile for the camera
The actors playing the Na’vi had cameras attached to their heads, filming the close-ups of their faces. The dots painted on their faces allowed the framework of their expressions to be captured for the CGI artists.
3. Digital cinematography
It is the first film ever to pick up an Academy Award for Best Cinematography that was completely digitally shot.
2. Baby time
In the original ending, Neytiri was planned to be pregnant with Jake’s child.
1. Not mobile friendly
James Cameron is famous for many things – one of them is being strict on the set. The director allegedly kept a nail-gun with him to nail cellphones that would ring during production above the exit sign. Yowza!