Avatar is a 2009 American science fiction epic film written and directed byJames Cameron and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver,Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang. The film is set in the year 2154, whenhumans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on the lush moon Pandorain the Alpha Centauri star system. The colonists' expansion threatens thecontinued existence of the Na'vi—a race of humanoids who are indigenous toPandora—as well as the moon'secosystem. The film's title refers to thegenetically engineered Na'vi bodies used by several human characters to interactwith the natives of Pandora.
Development on Avatar began in 1994, when Cameron wrote an 80-pagescriptment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after thecompletion of Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, for a planned release in 1999, butaccording to Cameron, the technology was not yet available to portray his visionof the film. Work on the language for the film's extraterrestrial racebegan in summer 2005, and Cameron began developing the script and fictionaluniverse in early 2006.
Avatar was officially budgeted at $237 million. Other estimates put thecost at $280–310 million to produce and $150 million for marketing.The film was released for traditional two-dimensional projection, as well as in3-D, using the RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, and IMAX 3D formats. The film was touted as abreakthrough in filmmaking technology, for its development of 3D viewing andstereoscopic filmmaking with cameras that were specially designed for the film'sproduction.
Avatar premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was releasedinternationally on December 16, and in North America on December 18, to criticalacclaim and commercial success. The film broke several box officerecords during its release and became the highest-grossing film of all timeworldwide, surpassing Titanic, which had held the record for the previous 12years. Following the film's success, Cameron stated that there will be asequel.
In 2154, the RDA corporation is mining Pandora, a lush, Earth-like moon ofthe planet Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system, for its reservesof a valuable mineral called unobtanium.Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) headsthe mining operation, which employs private military contractors (mainly formerMarines) for security. Pandora is inhabited by the Na'vi, a ten-foot-tallblue-skinned species of sapient humanoids. The Na'vi live in harmony withnature, worshiping a mother goddesscalled Eywa.
Pandora's atmosphere is toxic to humans, forcing them to use breathingmasks. Attempting to improve relations with the natives and learn aboutPandora's biology, scientists grow Na'vi-human hybrids called avatars,controlled by genetically matched, mentally linked humans. Jake Sully (SamWorthington), a paraplegic former Marine, replaces his murdered twin brother, ascientist trained to be an avatar operator. Dr. Grace Augustine (SigourneyWeaver), head of the Avatar Program, considers Sully an inadequate replacementfor his brother and assigns him as a bodyguard.