The movie studio that produced the mega-blockbuster, “Avatar,” had no problem with the film’s alien race being blue — but it turns out they were initially concerned about the Na’vi being too green.
According to director James Cameron, 20th Century Fox had some initial apprehension that his $2 billion-dollar-baby delivered the wrong kind of message — the message of environmental conservation.
Cameron recollects the studio’s warning as being: “We really like the story. It’s great. But, well, is there a way to not have so much of this tree-hugging, ‘Ferngully’ stuff in it?”
The famously exacting director wasn’t going give up on the central point of the “Avatar” story. “I said, ‘Not with me making it,'” Cameron said. “Because that was my purpose in making the film. I wanted to make an environmentally conscious mainstream movie.”
“FernGully: The Last Rainforest” was a 1992 animated film — also released by 20th Century Fox — featuring the voice of Tim Curry as the villain who gains his power from pollution.
Instead of backing down, Cameron reveled in the environmental themes leading up to the climatic conclusion of “Avatar”.Â “I think there’s something amazingly satisfying when the hammerheads come out of the forest and start mowing down all the bad security enforcers. Nature gets to fight back,” he said. “It’s ‘Death Wish’ for environmentalists. When did nature ever get to fight back in a movie?”
Cameron concedes that 20th Century Fox wouldn’t have been the only studio with concerns: “To be fair…any of the other studios would have said the same thing. Fox ended up being enormously supportive and wrote this huge check. But they would have been much more comfortable if I had eliminated what they called the ‘tree-hugging’ elements.”
James Cameron’s environmental concerns can be attributed to being a parent of three young children and the fact he would like them to have a world to grow up in: “I think there’s a way to live and raise your kids with a set of values that teaches them the importance of hard work, the importance of respecting other people and the importance of respecting nature. And that it’s not this consumer society where you buy something and then throw it away when you get the next new thing, filling up huge landfills with plastic and electronics.”
Cameron’s environmentally friendly message has not, as the studio was initially concerned, negatively affected box-office receipts. “Avatar” has so far grossed over $2.2 billion worldwide — which is well over a billion ahead of the ticket sales for its closest Best Picture Oscar rival, “The Hurt Locker.” That film (which also has an arguably controversial message in its coverage of soldiers in Iraq) was directed by his former wife, Kathryn Bigelow, and has only taken in $12.6 million in domestic box-office sales.