Comic-Con 2009 Live: James Cameron Presents Avatar
by Alex Billington
July 23, 2009
This is the moment we've all been waiting for and it's 10 years in the making. James Cameron is coming to Comic-Con to finally present the first ever glimpse at Avatar, his first movie since Titanic in 1997. We obviously won't be able to take any photos or really explain in complete detail any of what we're about to see, but we'll do our best to provide some quotes from Cameron and our own reaction to what we're shown. With that introduction, let's get on with this, as we're waiting for the panel to start and things to kick off. Follow on below as we live blog the panel and head directly into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read on!
3:08PM - We're still waiting for the panel to start here in Hall H, so stay tuned.
3:13PM - Still waiting to pack this in and get the show on the road… I am getting very nervous, very anxious, and very excited.
3:22PM - Well our host for the evening is the infamous Tom Rothman. And his introductory speech was obviously not written by him. "Pack your bags," he says, we've got a one way ticket to Pandora!
3:24PM - "There has been much talk today about the technology invented to make this possible." "But I can tell you that this is being used in the service of story and character." Rothman says that although this should be experienced in 3D, it is also going to be shown in 2D as well everywhere. Introduces the legendary James Cameron to the stage!
3:26PM - Cameron is "honored" to be able to unveil the first footage here at Comic-Con. I share with you my love for science fiction and fantasy and other worlds. He's not going to "waste our time" because we're here to see stuff. We're going to see 24 or 25 minutes of stuff
3:28PM - He's closing this introduction with two questions that we need to answer loudly so that others out there in the universe know we exist. They are:
-How many of you have ever wanted to go to another planet?
-Are you ready to go to Pandora?
3:55PM - Just finished watching a full 25 minutes and holy shit it was phenomenal, just amazing. It does indeed look like nothing you've ever seen, it is groundbreaking, it looks incredible. Every single second in this looked real. And most of it was a completely CGI created universe that does not at all look CGI. It is truly amazing!
3:56PM - Sigourney Weaver: "This is the movie you've been waiting for." Describing her character in the movie:
1000 foot tall trees, mountains, creatures, some beautiful, some terrifying. Grace loves Pandora with all its heart and hopes to protect the Na'vi from "industrial Earth." And to do this, they project their consciousness into their Avatars, which are living, breathing biological bodies which resemble the Na'vi.
3:58PM - Just brought out Zoe Saldana as well plays the primary lead character named… well I don't know how to spell her name. Her character is the "most physically demanding role" she's ever done. I want her to be a female action character at least equal to the others in Jim's movies. She hates the humans and what they're doing in their world but finds herself completely fascinated by Jake.
4:01PM - "Working with Jim is not like anything else I've ever experienced because no one cares as much as he does," Sigourney says.
4:02PM - Zoe says the "language was amazing." It was hard, like picking up French. "It was very interesting." It sounds like she can't exactly describe how hard it was to speak a lanaguage that doesn't exist and even learn to speak with an accent in English as well.
4:04PM - Dr. Paul Frommer (of USC) spent two years working on developing the language. They learned about various things to "de-humanize" themselves to become a part of the Na'vi culture, like simple things like saying yes and no.
4:06 - First question from the attendees for a Q&A. Do you have any projects in mind for Arnold when he's out of office? "Well Arnold and I have discussed the possibility of him returning to action, I wouldn't rule that out." But he'll let him do the announcing.
4:08PM - What sparked the idea of creating this movie? The "super honest answer" is that I was the CEO of the visual effects company Digital Domain at the time and we were really good at 2D composite but not good at 3D characters. So I decided to write a story full of creatures and characters that would push the art of 3D. So I stuck the treatment in a drawer and got it our four years ago and it's now more timely than ever. References how Gollum looked in Lord of the Rings and that was the "door opening" on the possibility of making this movie. But we had a lot of work to develop the performance technology to capture the work. "Our technology needs to live up to what they can do."
4:14PM - About knowing this was the right time. "Knowing that the rain cloud is ready to rain," Cameron says. It has all the action and all the adventure and also do something that has a conscious. And while enjoying it, also makes you think about interacting with nature. "We make science fiction as human beings for human consumption." The humans in the film kind of represent that part of ourselves that is trashing the world and taking us to a grim future.
4:16PM - Cameron wanted to do something special unveiling the film so he chose to do that at Comic-Con. So he is wondering how he can get this out to the international audiences not at Comic-Con.
Going to take over IMAX 3D and digital 3D theaters worldwide on August 21st and let a global audience come to see 15 minutes of Avatar for free. "Avatar Day"
4:19PM - Unfortunately they have to wrap things up due to time constraints so that's all from the world of Pandora today!