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Avatar (franchise)

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Avatar
The second logo of the franchise.
Created byJames Cameron
Original workAvatar (2009)
Owner20th Century Studios
Years2009–present
Print publications
Book(s)List of books
ComicsList of comics
Graphic novel(s)Avatar: The High Ground (2022–2023)
Films and television
Film(s)
Games
Video game(s)
Audio
Soundtrack(s)
Original music
Miscellaneous
Toy(s)Lego Avatar
Theme park attraction(s)
Official website
www.avatar.com Edit this at Wikidata

Avatar is an American epic science fiction media franchise created by James Cameron, which began with the eponymous 2009 film. Produced by Lightstorm Entertainment and distributed by 20th Century Studios, and consists of associated merchandise, video games, and theme park attractions.[1] Avatar is set in the mid-22nd century on Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system. The film's central conflict is between the indigenous Na'vi led by Jake Sully and Neytiri, and humans led by Colonel Miles Quaritch from the Resources Development Administration (RDA), a megacorp which has arrived on Pandora to colonize and pillage it for its natural resources. The title of the series refers to the genetically engineered Na'vi body operated from the brain that humans pilot to interact with on Pandora.

The first installment, Avatar, was released on December 18, 2009, and is the highest grossing film of all-time. The second installment, The Way of Water, was released on December 16, 2022. The planned sequel series was announced by 20th Century Fox on December 11, 2009, one week before Avatar was released to theaters. 20th Century Fox had confirmed the series on January 15, 2010. The Avatar franchise is one of the most expensive franchises undertaken, with the combined budget of the first film and its four sequels estimated at $1 billion. The franchise has grossed over $5.2 billion worldwide; it is the 14th-highest-grossing film series of all time.

Like the original film, the four sequels have "fully encapsulated" stand-alone plots that "come to their own conclusions". The four films have an overarching meta-narrative that connects them to create a large interconnected saga.[2] Cameron described the sequels as "a natural extension of all the themes, and the characters, and the spiritual undercurrents" of the first film. However, Cameron eventually acknowledged that series co-producer Jon Landau, who Cameron developed a working relationship with in 1993, was in fact "the heart of the Avatar family" and "the center of gravity of our bubble universe."[3]

Films[edit]

Overview of Avatar films
Film U.S. release date Director Written by Produced by Status
Screenwriter(s) Story by
Avatar December 18, 2009 (2009-12-18) James Cameron James Cameron James Cameron and Jon Landau Released
Avatar: The Way of Water December 16, 2022 (2022-12-16) James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver James Cameron
& Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
& Josh Friedman & Shane Salerno[4]
Avatar 3 December 19, 2025 (2025-12-19) Post-production
Avatar 4 December 21, 2029 (2029-12-21) James Cameron & Josh Friedman Filming
Avatar 5 December 19, 2031 (2031-12-19) James Cameron & Shane Salerno James Cameron Pre-production

Avatar (2009)[edit]

Avatar was written and directed by James Cameron, The cast includes Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi, CCH Pounder, Dileep Rao, Matt Gerald, Laz Alonso, and Wes Studi, and was set in the year 2154.

The story focuses on an epic conflict on Pandora, an inhabited Earth-sized moon of Polyphemus, one of three 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 (such as unobtanium) 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.[5] The protagonist, Jake Sully, is a paraplegic young man who travels to Pandora from Earth. Assisting the corporate monolith known as the Resources Development Administration (RDA), he is given an avatar which he uses to interact with the story's heroine, Neytiri, as well as her clan known as the Omatikaya.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)[edit]

Avatar: The Way of Water was written and directed by James Cameron, The cast includes Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Joel David Moore, Sigourney Weaver, CCH Pounder, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Trinity Bliss, Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, and Jack Champion, and was set 16 years after the first film in the year 2170.

Set over a decade after the events of the first film, The Way of Water focuses on the return of the RDA, which prompts Jake's family to seek refuge in the water regions of Pandora in an effort to keep one another safe. Cameron said in an interview that while the first film was about the "awe and wonder", the sequel focuses more on the characters. The film was originally planned for a December 2014 release, but was delayed several times and released on December 16, 2022. Production began in August 2017. It wrapped in September 2020.[6][7][8]

Avatar 3 (2025)[edit]

A third film is planned for release on December 19, 2025.[9] Interviews in mid-2010 suggested that the third film would explore more of the Alpha Centauri system, but the script was not completed until late 2015. Avatar 3 started shooting simultaneously with Avatar: The Way of Water in New Zealand on September 25, 2017; filming was completed in late December 2020. The third film will introduce a new aggressive Na'vi Clan known as 'Ash People' who reside near volcanoes.[9][10] Cameron stated that Avatar: The Seed Bearer is being considered as a possible title for the film,[11] but Landau debunked the rumor in December 2023.[12]

Avatar 4 (2029)[edit]

A fourth film is planned for release on December 21, 2029.[9] Jon Landau said that, due to a six-year time skip in the first act, a third of Avatar 4 has already been filmed to account for the aging of the child actors, and on September 9, 2022, it was announced at the D23 Expo that principal photography had officially begun for Avatar 4.[9][10] Cameron stated that Avatar: The Tulkun Rider is being considered as a possible title for the film.[11]

Avatar 5 (2031)[edit]

A fifth film has been announced and is scheduled for December 19, 2031.[9] Jon Landau had stated that part of Avatar 5 will take place on Earth, with Neytiri visiting the planet.[13][14][9][10] Cameron stated that Avatar: The Quest for Eywa is being considered as a possible title for the film.[11][15][16]

Future[edit]

In December 2022, Cameron revealed that he has plans for a potential sixth and seventh film and would make them if there was demand.[15][16] In February 2024, Cameron reiterated his plans for the sixth and seventh film and admitted that he would probably pass the baton off to another director.[17]

Cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)

This section includes characters who will appear or have appeared in the franchise.

  • An empty, dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film, or that the character's official presence has not yet been confirmed.
  •  U indicates an uncredited appearance.
  •  V indicates a voice-only role.
  •  Y indicates a younger version of the character.
Character
Films Video game
Avatar Avatar: The Way of Water Avatar 3 Avatar 4 Avatar 5 Avatar: The Game
2009 2022 2025 2029 2031 2009
Jake Sully Sam Worthington
Neytiri Zoe Saldaña
Colonel Miles Quaritch Stephen Lang Stephen LangV
Parker Selfridge Giovanni Ribisi Giovanni RibisiV
Dr. Norm Spellman Joel David Moore
Dr. Max Patel Dileep Rao
Corporal Lyle Wainfleet Matt Gerald
Mo'at CCH Pounder
Dr. Grace Augustine Sigourney Weaver Sigourney WeaverV
Trudy Chacón Michelle Rodriguez Michelle RodriguezV
Eytukan Wes Studi
Tsu'tey Laz Alonso
Kiri Sigourney Weaver
Ronal Kate Winslet
Tonowari Cliff Curtis
General Frances Ardmore Edie Falco
Captain Mick Scoresby Brendan Cowell
Dr. Ian Garvin Jemaine Clement
Lo'ak Britain Dalton
Chloe ColemanY
Britain Dalton
Miles "Spider" Socorro Jack Champion
Neteyam Jamie Flatters
Tuktirey "Tuk" Trinity Jo-Li Bliss
Tsireya "Reya" Bailey Bass
Aonung Filip Geljo
Rotxo Duane Evans Jr.
Metkayina Interpreter CJ JonesU
Dr. Karina Mogue Michelle Yeoh
Varang Oona Chaplin
Peylak David Thewlis

Production details[edit]

Production details of Avatar films
Film Composer Cinematographer Editors Production companies Distributor Running time
Avatar James Horner Mauro Fiore Stephen E. Rivkin
John Refoua
James Cameron
Lightstorm Entertainment
Dune Entertainment
Ingenious Film Partners
20th Century Fox 162 min. (original theatrical cut),
170 min. (special edition cut),
178 min. (collector's extended cut)
Avatar: The Way of Water Simon Franglen Russell Carpenter David Brenner
Stephen E. Rivkin
John Refoua
James Cameron
Lightstorm Entertainment
TSG Entertainment
20th Century Studios
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
192 min.
Avatar 3 Lightstorm Entertainment TBA
Avatar 4 Mauro Fiore Stephen E. Rivkin
James Cameron
Avatar 5

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

The first film grossed $2.92 billion worldwide and is the highest-grossing film in history. The second film, The Way of Water, has grossed $2.32 billion worldwide and currently ranks as the third highest-grossing film. The third, fourth, and fifth films in the series are expected to have a budget of $250 million.[18]

Box office performance for Avatar films
Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref.
North America Other territories Worldwide North America Worldwide
Avatar December 18, 2009 $785,221,649 $2,138,484,377 $2,923,706,026 4 1 $237 million [19][20]
Avatar: The Way of Water December 16, 2022 $684,075,767 $1,636,174,514 $2,320,250,281 7 3 $350 million [21][22][23]
Avatar 3 December 19, 2025 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD $250 million [18]
Avatar 4 December 21, 2029 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD $250 million [18]
Avatar 5 December 19, 2031 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD $250 million [18]
Total $1,469,297,416 $3,774,658,891 $5,243,956,307 17[24] 14[24] $1.337 billion

Critical and public response[edit]

Critical and public response to the Avatar films
Film Critical Public
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore PostTrak
Avatar 82% (336 reviews)[25] 83 (38 reviews)[26] A[27]
Avatar: The Way of Water 76% (449 reviews)[28] 67 (68 reviews)[29] A[27] 91%[27]

Accolades[edit]

Academy Awards received by the Avatar franchise
Category 2010[30] 2023[31]
Avatar The Way of Water
Best Picture Nominated Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Cinematography Won
Best Film Editing Nominated
Best Original Score Nominated
Best Production Design[a] Won Nominated
Best Sound[b] Editing Nominated Nominated
Mixing Nominated
Best Visual Effects Won Won

Music[edit]

Singles[edit]

Other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

Title Details

Original release date(s):[32][33]
  • WW: December 1, 2009
Release years by system:
2009 – PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, iPhone
2010 – iPad, Android
Notes:
Avatar: Pandora Rising

Original release date:[34][35]
  • US: January 22, 2020
Release years by system:
2020 – iOS, Android
Notes:
  • Developed by FoxNext Games Los Angeles and published by FoxNext Games
  • Game was soft launched but never received a full release
  • Real-time strategy game
  • On February 11, 2022, it was announced the game would cease production and servers would be shut down April 4, 2022.[36]

Original release date(s):[37][38][39]
  • WW: December 7, 2023
Release years by system:
2023 – PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X/S, Amazon Luna
Notes:
Avatar: Reckoning

Original release date(s):[40]
TBA
Release years by system:
TBA – iOS, Android
Notes:
  • Developed by Archosaur Games and published by Level Infinite
  • MMO role-playing third-person shooter game

Novels[edit]

Following the release of Avatar, Cameron initially planned to write a novel based on the film, "telling the story of the movie, but [going] into much more depth about all the stories that we didn't have time to deal with."[41]

In 2013, this plan was superseded by the announcement of four new novels set within the "Avatar expanded universe", to be written by Steven Gould.[42] The books were due to be published by Penguin Random House, although since 2017, but there has been no update on the planned book series.[43]

In July 2022, the first graphic novel based on the Avatar franchise was announced.

Title Release date Age category Media type Ref.
Avatar: The High Ground December 6, 2022 – January 10, 2023 12+ Graphic Novel [44][45][46][47][48][49]
  • Based on James Cameron original screenplay for Avatar: The Way of Water and serves as a prequel to the film.[50]
  • Written by Sherri L. Smith and Augustin Padilla
  • Illustrated by Guilherme Balbi, Michael Altiyeh, Wes Dzioba, Michael Angel Ruiz, Diego Galindo, George Quadros, Gabriel Guzman, DC Alonso
  • Published by Dark Horse Comics and Penguin Random House
  • Three part series
    • Volume 1, released on December 6, 2022
    • Volume 2, released on January 10, 2023
    • Volume 3, released on January 10, 2023
  • During the development process of creating the four Avatar sequels, a lot of new ideas and stories were created and discussed. One such original story idea that did not make it into the sequels was James Cameron's original story—"The High Ground." Cameron shared what he had written with Dark Horse Comics and it was then adapted into a graphic novel.

Books[edit]

The Art of Avatar is a film production art book released on November 30, 2009, by Abrams Books.

The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration Is a book that celebrates, explores, and explains the spectacular world of Pandora. The book was released on May 31, 2022, by DK Books

The Art of Avatar The Way of Water takes an exclusive look behind-the-scenes on the production and creative process of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. It was released on December 16, 2022, by DK Books

Avatar The Way of Water The Visual Dictionary is a visual guide that showcases characters, vehicles, weapons, locations, and more from the movie, as well as many stunning exclusive details. This book was released on December 16, 2022, by DK Books

Comic books[edit]

In October 2015, Dark Horse Comics signed a 10-year partnership to publish Avatar comics.[51]

On May 6, 2017, Dark Horse Comics published a Free Comic Book Day one-shot entitled FCBD 2017: James Cameron's Avatar / Briggs Land, which included a short story set in the world of Avatar entitled "Brothers".[52][53] From January to August 2019, Dark Horse published a six-issue miniseries called Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path.[54][55][56][57][58][59][53] Tsu'tey's Path was collected in trade paperback format on November 27, 2019, with "Brothers" included as supplementary material.[53]

Title No. of
Issues
Issue No. Release date Story Art Colors Covers
"Brothers" 1 FCBD 2017 May 6, 2017 Sherri L. Smith Doug Wheatley Wes Dzioba Dave Wilkins
Tsu'tey's Path 6 1 January 16, 2019 Sherri L. Smith Jan Duursema (pencils)
Dan Parson (inks)
Wes Dzioba Doug Wheatley
Shea Standefer (variants)
2 February 13, 2019
3 March 20, 2019
4 May 1, 2019
5 June 26, 2019
6 August 21, 2019
The Next Shadow 4 1 January 6, 2021 Jeremy Barlow Josh Hood Wes Dzioba Guilherme Balbi
with Wes Dzioba
2 February 3, 2021
3 March 3, 2021
4 April 7, 2021
Adapt or Die 6 1 May 4, 2022 Corinna Bechko Beni Lobel Mark Molchan Wes Dzioba
2 June 1, 2022
3 July 6, 2022
4 August 1, 2022
5 September 9, 2022
6 October 5, 2022
The Next Shadow 4 1 January 6, 2021 Jeremy Barlow Josh Hood Wes Dzioba Guilherme Balbi
with Wes Dzioba
2 February 3, 2021
3 March 3, 2021
4 April 7, 2021
Frontiers of Pandora - So'lek's Journey 6 1 February 28, 2024 Ray Fawkes Gabriel Guzman Michael Atiyeh Gabriel Guzmán
2 March 27, 2024
3 April 24, 2024
4 May 29, 2024
5 July 17, 2024
6 August 21, 2024

Collected editions[edit]

Title Release date ISBN
Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path November 27, 2019 9781506706702
Avatar: The Next Shadow August 11, 2021 9781506722429
Avatar: Adapt or Die February 22, 2023 9781506730714
Avatar: The High Ground Library Edition May 10, 2023 9781506710440
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora - So'lek's Journey December 18, 2024 9781506732237

Live show[edit]

Toruk – The First Flight is an original stage production by the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil which ran between December 2015 and June 2019. Inspired by Avatar, the story is set in Pandora's past, involving a prophecy concerning a threat to the Tree of Souls and a quest for totems from different tribes. Audience members could download an app in order to participate in show effects. On January 18, 2016, it was announced via the Toruk Facebook page that filming for a DVD release had been completed and was undergoing editing.[60]

Exhibition[edit]

Avatar The Exhibition is a touring exhibition based on the first film. It opened in Chengdu, China on May 1, 2021, and closed on December 31, 2021.[61][62] It is currently touring Asia with future stops planned around the globe.[63]

Theme park attractions[edit]

In 2011, Cameron, Lightstorm, and Fox entered an exclusive licensing agreement with The Walt Disney Company to feature Avatar-themed attractions at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide, including a themed land for Disney's Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The area, known as Pandora – The World of Avatar, opened on May 27, 2017.[64][65] The themed land is set generations after the events of the films and features two attractions: Avatar Flight of Passage, a flying simulator attraction, and Na'vi River Journey, a boat dark ride.[citation needed]

In February 2023, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that a new attraction based on the Avatar films, named the Avatar Experience, would open at Disneyland.[66]

Cultural considerations[edit]

Some indigenous groups, including Native Americans, have called for a boycott of the franchise over "tone-deaf" handling of indigenous cultures and cultural appropriation. Both Avatar films have drawn criticism for casting several white and other non-indigenous actors in the roles of the alien native people. Cameron said he tried to move away from a white savior narrative.[67][68][69] The film series was criticized for "romanticization of colonization" and putting forward a monolithic portrayal of Indigenous people.[70]

Cameron faced criticism for comments made after the release of the first film.[67][68][69] In 2010, Cameron and Avatar actors supported the Xingu peoples in opposing the construction of the Belo Monte Dam.[71]

In 2012, Cameron said Avatar is a fictional retelling of the history of North and South America in the early Colonial period, "with all its conflict and bloodshed between the military aggressors from Europe and the indigenous peoples".[72][73]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Starting with the 85th Academy Awards (2012), the Best Art Direction category was renamed Best Production Design.
  2. ^ Starting with the 93rd Academy Awards (2021), the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing categories were consolidated into a single Best Sound category.

References[edit]

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