James Cameron Compares Plans For Avatar Universe To Star Trek Franchise

James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi movie Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time, and on Friday a special edition of Avatar will be back in theaters to scoop up some more cash. But Cameron has even higher aspirations, saying that he hopes to build a franchise fan following akin to Star Wars…and Star Trek.

 

James Cameron wants his own Trekkies (Avataries? – Pandorians?)   

On Friday select theaters will open Avatar: Special Edition, an extended version of the film with nine minutes of additional footage, which should add a few bucks to the $2.4 Billion total it already has. However, Cameron and his team are said to be looking at Avatar as much more than just a popular movie, but more like the beginning of a franchise.

Cameron has said he plans to develop two additional feature films set in the Avatar universe, but those will not come for a few years. In the short term Cameron is now finishing a companion novel that will provide more backstory for the characters in Avatar. The writer/director sees the book as just the beginning of an extended universe, but thinks it will be even better than another familiar franchise’s, telling the LA Times.

[The novel] will also be the bible for any future publication, a look-up guide for future writers who can come in and work within the world…. Think about all the ‘Star Trek’ novels and how they contradicted each other for a few years and it made it tricky to be a Trekkie for a while.

Beyond the novel, Cameron makes it clear that he is hoping to build a fan following for Avatar like George Lucas did for Star Wars and Gene Roddenberry did for Star Trek, telling the LA Times:

You’ve got to compete head on with these other epic works of fantasy and fiction, the Tolkiens and the ‘Star Wars’ and the ‘Star Treks. People want a persistent alternate reality to invest themselves in and they want the detail that makes it rich and worth their time. They want to live somewhere else. Like Pandora.

Cameron’s comparisons Star Trek are nothing new. Back when Avatar was release he spoke about the Na’vi language developed for the film and once again contrasted his work with Star Trek, telling EW the goal for him and linguist Paul Froemer was to "out-Klingon Klingon".


Director James Cameron with some Avatar fans

So what do you think? Can James Cameron’s Avatar eventually grow into a multi-media extended universe like Star Wars and Star Trek, inspiring a devoting following, conventions, and the rest? Or will it just end up being a popular series of films like say the Matrix? Only time will tell.

Avatar: Special Edition opens Friday August 27th. More info at the official site. Here is the trailer.

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NuFan

Why would he want a bunch of whiny old guys dogging his every move? You’ll be sorry, James. ;-)

Lore

In his dreams………….

Lore

This is the guy who wanted to turn Titanic into a weekly series. Unfortunately every finale script kept coming up with the same ending.

Horatio

Yawn.

Derf

…and Oasis is bigger than the Beatles.

Allen Williams

stay away from star trek. You’ve already ruined way too many movies by insisting on making everything 3D. I just hope the star trek crew are smart enough not to make it 3D and keep you off the set.

kesseljunkie

Yeah, not so much. I call Avatar the ‘Invisible Blockbuster’ because, despite the ticket returns, I’ve met only one person who saw it more than once or was anywhere near ‘fanatical’ about it. Most reactions I’ve come across have been ‘hey, that looked neat.’

Best of luck, Mr. Cameron. I don’t think you’ve hit quite the same vein as our venerable Star franchises.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Well. He has a chance. It did make Billions. But. the Lord of the Rings made a lot of money and so did the Matrix. It takes a very Special Show to make it. Outside of Star Trek and Star wars theres not a lot of shows that made it. the X Files and Babylon 5 did make it somewhat. But those shows have not done anything in a while like Star Wars and Star Trek have. for a Show to make it like Trek and Wars they have to continue to produce shows and not just a couple of Movies no matter how much money they make at the box office.

kiki

James Cameron you’re an egotistical jerk

Sharra

To me, Avatar would fit well into the pre-existing Alien/Predator universe.

He would have to change the name “Avatar” is too specific to that situation, in which once guy is using an alien avatar.

A guy in a spaceship in the same universe couldn´t bear to have a name series based on a gadget, it would be like “MSN” or “Twitter”.

Maybe it could be “Adventures of spaceship SULACO”, so they could visit other planets on the Cameronverse. Like “LV-426” or the future Earth taken by Terminators, or a water planet with the aliens from “The Abyss”.

“When Cameron was in Egypt land, let my Cameron go”.

raza

To be honest its just a matter of time till he grows bored of it and eventually returns back to making documentaries about the sea.

That One Guy

Avatar isn’t even a franchise. It’s a single movie….

TOTAL HOURS:
—————————————–
AVATAR: 3 hours in one movie

STAR TREK: 600+ hours spread over 5 series, 11 movies. It also has 600+ books.

Dee

Uhmmmm!!!

Today is CP’s birthday, remember guys!!!!…… Happy Niver Chris!!!!

weyoun_9

Nope. Not likely.

DavidFuchs

Well, that’s laughable. I think Cameron might have been snorting some of those hundred dollar bills he’s got lying around :P

Even if Avatar was a good story (and it wasn’t), it’s not sustainable in a dynamic, franchise-expanding universe way. No one is going to watch lots of Na’vi yammering on screen about fighting X and Y as a spinoff series.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Avatar was a great Movie and im sure he will make a couple of more. But for it to reach then Status of Wars and Trek needs to have a series and lots of Books. If he can do that then he would have a chance.

ElwoodJD

Slapping blue paint on Dances With Wolves is no way to make a franchise. I get that it’s easy, slap blue paint on as many meaningful Oscar winners as possible and then put “Avatar [x]: [subtitle]” on the poster, and with the $30trillion they charge to see a 3D movie, it will make money. But I just don’t see a devoted following for this franchise long-term.

At the end of the movie I thought, okay, now I hope I never see these characters or locations again because they never once connected with me beyond the “I’ve seen this movie with less special effects before.”

Thought it already wuz’ a series/franchise set up long agos… all them azure aliens livin’ in mushrooms bein’ hunted by some ugly monk and his cat…

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

Jilly

Cameron: The Search for Avatards

trekprincess

Happy Birthday Chris Pine I hope he has a great day love you so much

Charlie

The “Matrix” films make an apt and cautionary analogy — one good movie that captured imaginations, two more than made most people shrug.

The movie wasn’t deep enough for a franchise to be anything more than movies with neat special effects.

All those other films, people LOVE. It’s from their heart that they watch and follow them.

I don’t feel like Avatar is loved by that many people.

Good movie, and marketing genius of course. I just can’t see it going further than neat movies to watch a couple of times.

I’ve seen Star Wars probably almost 200 times so far. It’s like a religion to me. (I’ve lost track on Wrath of Khan)

Avatar will get only about 10 total in my life.

Of course, with all that money, he can just force us to love the franchise.

From now on, all restaurants are Navi Burger!

(oh, and I also think/hope all the other good, quality film makers will buck the 3D trend)

Avatar was fun, but too preachy. If you thought the children cartoon series “Captain Planet” was heavy handed, imagine a series of this enviroactivist diatribe… A sequel would be worth a look, but really, I think his ambitions for cultural impact may be a bit unhinged.

Speaking of Cameron and unhinged….

James Cameron, Mega-Climate Creationist, Chickens Out On Debate

http://tinyurl.com/2uo3wsf

Alec

The only thing remotely comparable with the Star Trek phenomenon is the James Bond phenomenon. Nothing else has the history, cultural significance, success and longevity of Star Trek. (Not even Star Wars: there are only six films, only three of which are worth watching and only two of which are good, and a cartoon series. Whereas, Star Trek has had a pretty constant presence from the sixties with 11 films (so far), 6 TV shows, and countless books, etc., having being made since then.)

Avatar looked good but was distinctly average in all other respects: this is no franchise. Besides, it takes him so long to make a film. There is much better sci-fi than this; hopefully, J.J. & co. are about to make some more of it…

Thorny

Avatar was all effects and no heart. The characters were entirely one dimensional and the story cliched. Not exactly a strong foundation on which to build a franchise, mega-box office notwithstanding.

Vultan

Oh please… the Smurfs already have the blue franchise. And they’ve better dialogue to boot!

I am not Herbert

Avatar has as good a chance (of becoming a franchise) as ST09… =P

Capt. of the USS Anduril

The movie was pretty. That’s about all that was “fantastic” about it. The actors were fairly good, but IMO, were outshone by the effects and were pulled down by the far too predictable story. I don’t think I’ll be seeing the special edition until the Blu Ray release. No sense wasting 10 bucks at the theater for 9 minutes of extra footage.

John from Cincinnati

It won’t happen. People aren’t into overgrown Smurfs. It was a nice gimmick when it came out but it doesn’t have legs.

Captain Otter

I will say I was one of those who enjoyed watching Avatar.

The problem was, as soon as the house lights went up and I actually took a few seconds to THINK about what I’d been watching, Ferngully 2.0, that I realized what I had experienced was not a motion picture, but an amusement park ride.

So while I’m glad I saw Avatar, I have no real desire to go back into that universe. I certainly wouldn’t read a novel about Pandora.

BTW- if you STILL haven’t seen Mr. Plinkett’s review of Avatar, use the link below. It will kill any desire you have for sequels or an avatar-based universe.
http://redlettermedia.com/avatar.html

izmunuti

I think a franchise could happen, but Cameron would need a lot more output than three movies and a few books. An affordable animated tv series might do the trick.

Some people have a problem that Avatar has a message. Well, many Star Trek episodes did as well, and that’s why they are so memorable and involving. To me, a movie without a message is eventually forgettable, even if it dazzles with effects.

Further, I found Avatar quite moving regarding the ideas about difficulties in being “the other” and misunderstanding between cultures, and yes, in its approach toward the shared loss of our environmental heritage if we are not good caretakers. I don’t know why some don’t feel that, but we are all different. Perhaps there are biases and “shields up” feelings in some viewers regarding Cameron, not allowing themselves to immerse fully in the experience.

kc

Avatar was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on a movie screen visually. I don’t understand how anyone that saw the film could walk away not being awestruck by the amount of detail that was shown. And as a whole I enjoyed the movie.

I think Avatar certainly could have a chance to become a major franchise that spawns movies, shows, books, games, etc… Will it? Who knows. At one time Trek was just a canceled TV series – creating a cultural phenomenon takes a bit of magic.

OneBuckFilms

Actually, I think he’s got the possibility of doing that.

It’s certainly a world that can be expanded to tell all kinds of stories, especially with the strained relations beteen the humans and the Na’vi tribe, the diplomatic minefields, the other clans on Pandora, the scientific and cultural details that can be revealed, new characters can come and go, the backstory of what’s happening on Earth, or the corporation behind the Unobtanium mining, more about the technology humans are utilizing, etc.

Avatar provides an expandable, detailed, and potentially very varied backdrop for stories, characters and ideas.

The seeds are there for a long running franchise ala Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Star Trek.

Desstruxion

Haven’t seen it. Probably won’t. It just doesn’t seem that interesting to me.

Trek Nerd Central

“. . . made it tricky to be a Trekkie for a while.”

Sounds like a line from a country tune, doesn’t it?

All them novels, all them years
All them authors, all them tears
First Spock Must Die, then Spock’s the Messiah
I was feelin’ like my universe was under fire.
Lookin’ back, I can see, ‘n I can say it with a smile:
All them books made it tricky for a Trekkie for a while.

rm10019

Honestly, not that good a movie in my opinion. I wanted it to change my life like all the hype promised, but it just didn’t. Classic story of tech killing nature but that’s not enough to build a franchise on.

Phil

The expanded version of Avatar? Wasn’t the first go round something like 2 1/2 days long to begin with? How much CGI “save the earth” preaching can you pack into a day without your head exploding, anyway….

There is a reason TOS is the benchmark of the series – the sequel series strayed from “wagon train to the stars”, and while that “holier then thou” preaching works on the small screen for a bit, there is no way you can build a movie franchise around it. Star Wars, Star Trek, and for that matter 007 gives people a little escape for some action and adventure. Somehow, I just don’t see a franchise growing around “Captain Planet and his adventures on Pandora”.

OLLEY OLLEY OLLEY

Avatar was an entertaining movie but it got slated as a Preachy Liberal Eco movie by the Faux News channel and the reputation stuck to it like Shit to a blanket.

Now a lot of people who previously enjoyed the movie have had their thoughts reprogrammed by teh Palinite Teabagger Cult to dislike it.

Simple as…….

Cameron states, “Think about all the ‘Star Trek’ novels and how they contradicted each other for a few years and it made it tricky to be a Trekkie for a while.” Star Trek novels were not canon. (Wiki link below.) So one could enjoy a novel but ignore it as conflicting with the series or films.

However the link below notes exceptions such as Jeri Taylor’s novels, that provided background on ST: Voyager. This brings us to the excellent graphic novel “Star Trek: Countdown.” I’ll start the movement now to make that canon. You get a lot of background information that explains Star Trek ’09 such as a fleshing out of Nero’s motivations,and the Narada has been enhanced with Borg technology. Regardless, fellow Trekkers, check out the graphic novel with a story by Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, Trek ’09 and ’12 writers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_(Star_Trek)#Fiction_novels

et

The big differences between “Avatar” and “Star Trek”

– “Star Trek” at its best was (and is) driven by interesting characters. “Avatar” was driven by a blank lead character the audience could project themselves into and a couple of broad-stroke stereotypes. (Not that I’m against broad-stroke stereotypes in fun-and-dumb action movies.)

– “Star Trek” proposed an interesting, vital universe you wanted to know more about. “Avatar” propose a future where the earth is dying and the only people having fun are humorless blue tree elves.

Where would you rather spend more time?

John

No he didn’t! In before the all the Trek fans get threatened! :p

FarStrider

They seriously butchered that song in the trailer. . . :( “Avatar” worked because it was spectacle. . . the next movies will have to have much more going for them to succeed. We’ll see how that goes. . .

~FS

Lt. Bailey

While I have no problem wearing my Star Trek uniforms and going to ST CONs…. I refuse to go to an Avatar CON if I have paint myself blue!!!

I love Andorians (April bieng my favorite) don’t get me wrong, as I think that is the reason a person should go around in blue face paint.

As far as a franchise….that reamins to be seen. I really doubt there will come a time when I am in Las Vegas palying an Avatar slot machine as I do with that highly addictive Star Trek slot machine… the most fun I have loosing money. SHIELDS!!!!

Calb

I love it how nearly everyone compares avatar to another film: “Then i realized i was watching ‘Dances with Wolves’, ‘Ferngully’, ‘Pocahontas’ etc, etc.

Nothing is completely original with films now. Nothing really can be since film and cinema has been going as long as it has. You’ve got to realise that yes the messages will seem similar and stories are the same. Some important messages were conveyed in Star Trek yet we still have similar problems in the real world as there were 50 years ago.

Avatar really was blatent in the whole eco-warrior image but it wasn’t made to educate us. It was made to educate a younger generation who are not aware of this. It told a story and sent a message. Science fiction is about inspiring people for the future, granted Avatar has a message we have all heard before, especially in Star Trek. But i find it amazing people on here are so ignorant that they think once is enough.

If anything the fact that Avatar was seen by SO many people with such a strong message should be appreciated by Star Trek fans not torn to shreds. If they is what Trek fans are like then maybe it’s time another franchise takes over.

Trekkies are unique. You can’t just go get some.

Captain Otter

@ Calb (post #45)

Let me be clear. I’m not picking on Avatar for being somehwat like Ferngully and Dancing With Wolves.

I’m picking on Avatar for being a one-dimensional, poorly-written rehash of those films.

I realize that themes and even basic plot concepts and story progressions come in a finite number of permutations and that you will get similarities especially in genre films.

But Avatar is just a lazy freakin’ script.

Amazing visuals. Fun ride. Best special effects I’ve ever seen. And so long as you don’t bother to think, Avatar is fun.

But God forbid any of your brain matter other than your optic nerves come to the party with you- because the story plays out like it was written by a 12 year old. I’ve seen long-distance telephone commercials from the 80s which do a better job of character development and plot complexity.

Michael Hall

#45–word. Though you left out the irony of those who thought Trek ’09 was just the most awesome thing ever savaging Avatar for its lack of originality. But then, some jokes just write themselves.

Sebastian

Star Trek did not open with a $300 million dollar movie; it began as a modestly budgeted TV series (complete with foam rocks and cheesy spaceships) and built it’s way up VERY slowly. It was a 40 year overnight success! ; )

Much of that was due to the emphasis on character over spectacle (it’s lower budgets actually proved a mixed blessing, IMO). And part of the reason the show has endured in one form or another, is that we grew accustomed to this family of characters and felt comfortable exploring this fictional universe with them (even when new family members came aboard).

Avatar is a beautiful, wondrous, visual experience, and I loved it on those terms; but to be honest, I just don’t see it as a franchise. The spectacle will get to be old hat in time (ala Matrix). Star Wars is another example of that problem; by it’s third movie (in 1983) it began to show signs of fatigue (re-use of familiar planetary vistas, another Death Star, etc) and by the prequel era, it has become a victim of it’s own good fortune. The “lived in universe” of the originals had a distinctive sheen to it now, and looked so polished and inorganic with layers of CGI slickness that much of the visual appeal of the earlier films was gone.
George Lucas had become his own Emperor!

I hope James Cameron invests his energies in other arenas. To Cameron, I’d say please don’t put so many eggs in the Avatar basket; it’s a good-looking basket but it doesn’t hold a lot of eggs, really.

Thorny

39… Yeah, that’s it. Fox News told me to not like “Avatar”. Nevermind that I said the week it came out that the effects were superb and everything else mediocre at best. Nevermind that the main villain was little more developed than Boris Badenov, that the acting was awful (working against bluescreens usually has that effect), and that the dialogue made the Star Wars prequels look like MacBeth…