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China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ Rival

China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ RivalA forum to be held this week in Beijing will address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry, especially as they regard cooperation with the U.S. The state-backed China Film Association has created the International Communication Committee of CFA in an effort to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, in how to partner with China’s film entities to access the market. As Hollywood increasingly seek to establish ties to China, some thorny issues have crept up. Recently, Transformers: Age Of Extinction has faced criticism from sponsors over their portrayal, while the Chinese are understood to be concerned about foreign press coverage of reported extortion attempts on the set in Hong Kong last year. I hear folks expected to attend the forum include top execs from SAPPRFT, China Film Group, Huaxia Films, the CFA and DMG. Also expected to attend panels and presentations are former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent).

Image (2) AVATAR__140529163007-275x171.jpg for post 737462With Avatar the 2nd highest-grossing film in Chinese history, local producers are looking to cash in with their own rival take. The state-backed Xinhua news agency reports that Beijing Chinese Century Media Company is prepping 3D fantasy film Bainiaoyi to shoot in May 2015 in Hengxian County for release at the end of 2016. The tale based on Zhuang folklore follows a young … Read More »

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Official: China Has A New Box Office King As ‘Transformers: Age Of Extinction’ Tops ‘Avatar’

Official: China Has A New Box Office King As ‘Transformers: Age Of Extinction’ Tops ‘Avatar’After 12 days of release (and a bit of confusion over official numbers), Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction now has the distinction of passing Avatar as the highest-grossing film ever in China. With $225.1M (1,396M RMB), the movie has bested James Cameron’s record of $221.9M that was set in 2010. On Tuesday, Chinese research firm Ent Group reported that the Autobots had overtaken the Na’vi as of July 6 with $222.74M, but Paramount has just weighed in with its official numbers. Because of currency fluctuations, the yuan renminbi figure was key. Avatar was worth about 1.39B during its life in the Middle Kingdom. TAOE has been dogged somewhat by local sponsors who have griped about their placement in the movie. But audiences have embraced it willingly, encouraged by all the Chinese elements — including actors, locations and storyline.

Paramount Chairman and CEO, Brad Grey, said this morning, “We’re honored by the deeply passionate response from Chinese audiences – and audiences throughout the world – to Transformers: Age Of Extinction and the unique storytelling of Michael Bay. The many new relationships we have built with members of the creative community in China is a source of great pride and we look forward to collaborating with them in the future.” Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore acknowledged the “great work of China Film Group in the distribution of Transformers” and thanked partners Jiaflix, China Movie Channel, M1905, China Movie Media and Hua Hua.

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Deadline Now: Sigourney Weaver Set For ‘Avatar’ Sequels, E3 Kickoff, Stanley Cup TV Ratings (Video)

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 11:55am PDT
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Morning Report, Tuesday June 10

Sigourney Weaver will play a new character in James Cameron's three 'Avatar' sequels; game companies set stage for E3 conference that presses play today; ratings for the Stanley Cup Final Game 3 were the second-best ever for hockey on cable net NBCSN. Dominic Patten reports.

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E3: Games Frontrunner Sony To Launch $99 PlayStation TV
Fox, James Cameron Set Sigourney Weaver For ‘Avatar’ Sequels

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Fox, James Cameron Set Sigourney Weaver For Three ‘Avatar’ Sequels

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 6:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

avJames Cameron has set Sigourney Weaver to return in the three Avatar sequels that are scheduled to begin production later this year. Weaver joins previously announced cast returnees Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldana and Stephen Lang. She also becomes the second star after Lang to be resurrected for the trilogies after the characters they played died in Hollywood’s highest grossing film ever.

Cameron has long made movies with strong heroines, and that was epitomized when  he took over Aliens, the sequel to the film made by Ridley Scott, and established Weaver as one of the great female action heroes.

“Sigourney and I have a long creative history, dating back to 1985 when we made Aliens,” Cameron said. “We’re good friends who’ve always worked well together, so it just feels right that she’s coming back for the Avatar sequels. Her character of Grace Augustine, as fans know, died in the first movie, so she’s playing a different and in many ways more challenging character in the upcoming films. We’re both looking forward to this new creative challenge, the latest chapter in our long and continuing collaboration.”

The as yet untitled Avatar sequels will be filmed back-to-back. The release of the first follow-up will be in December 2016, with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later. The films are being produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment. Weaver is repped by UTA and Alan … Read More »

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James Cameron Teaming With Cirque Du Soleil For Live ‘Avatar’ Tour

By | Thursday May 29, 2014 @ 9:31am PDT
Mike Fleming

AVATARUPDATE: Got a press release with the details for Avatar, which is the first film that Cirque Du Soleil has used for a touring act. Release is below the original story.

BREAKING: How invested is James Cameron in the blue people that populate his Avatar world? Cameron, who’s readying a trio of 3D-shot sequels to Hollywood’s all time highest grossing film, has announced that he will team with Cirque du Soleil to develop an arena-tour show that is inspired by the film. The show will debut in late 2015. He announced it alongside Cirque Du Soleil president/CEO Daniel Lamarre at the C2MTL-Commerce and Creativity Conference.

The timing means the show will debut before the three sequels which, like the original, is financed and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Cameron previously worked with with Cirque Du Soleil as exec producer of the Andrew Adamson-directed 3D film Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away.

Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil and Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron announced a new partnership to develop an arena-touring show inspired by the world of Cameron’s history-making motion picture, AVATAR. This “live experience” is expected to debut late 2015 for what will become a global touring schedule.

The announcement was made in Montreal during the international business C2MTL– Commerce + Creativity Conference.

The live production will feature the creative signature drive of Cirque du Soleil in association with Cameron’s and Jon Landau’s Lightstorm Entertainment. The show is

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UPDATE: James Cameron on ‘Avatar’ Sequel Timetable Following Rupert Murdoch’s Comments

avatar_poster-200x300Update, Saturday 10:25 AM: In a Reddit AMA this morning, Avatar director James Cameron expounded on the franchise’s timetable in regards to the screenplays, writing, “The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They’re essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks. There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.”

In a Fortune interview earlier this week, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch reiterated what Deadline reported back in August: That there will be three Avatar sequels released respectively in December 2016, 2017 and 2018. Read More »

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Another ‘Avatar’ Copyright Case Tossed

By | Thursday March 20, 2014 @ 11:52am PDT

avatar_36439If you’re keeping track of these things, a Canada-based lawsuit claiming James Cameron‘s Avatar was based on someone else’s work has been thrown out. It’s the fourth legal victory since last year for Cameron, producer Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox over similar allegations again the 2009 mega blockbuster. Fox said today a federal court in Vancouver issued an order dismissing the latest complaint filed by local writer and restaurateur Emil Malak, who alleged that the pic copied elements of his script Terra Incognita. Malak was seeking $100M but dismissed the claim after the first day of hearing on Cameron’s motion for summary judgment. Malak originally filed suit in 2010 in BC Supreme Court but dropped that case too.

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UPDATE: James Cameron & Fox Victorious In $2.5B ‘Avatar’ Copyright Lawsuit

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 11:05am PST

DJP LEGAL BADGEUPDATE, 11:05 AM: James Cameron has issued a statement through Fox about last week’s Bryant Moore ruling: “Sadly, a cottage industry has arisen of fortune hunting plaintiffs seeking to ‘strike it rich’ by claiming their ideas were the basis for Avatar. As I have previously stated, Avatar was my most personal film, drawing upon themes and concepts that I had been exploring for decades. Our film was also the product of a team of some of the world’s most creative artists and designers, and it is an insult to all of them when these specious claims are made. I am grateful that Judge Titus and the other jurists who have dealt with these cases have recognized the complete lack of merit of these offensive lawsuits.”

PREVIOUS, MONDAY AM: It took over two years but the highest-grossing movie of all time, James Cameron and Fox are finally free of avatar_poster-200x300yet another Avatar lawsuit. “In conclusion, the story of Jake Sully and his exploits are the original work of the Defendants and the Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate any valid claim of a violation of his copyrights,” a federal District judge in Maryland wrote late last week of sci-fi writer Bryant Moore’s $2.5 billion lawsuit (read it here). The Memorandum Opinion and a following Order by Judge Roger Titus effectively ends the case with a summary judgment and other orders in Cameron and Fox’s favor. Moore will also have to pay all legal costs in the case.

Related: Sam Worthington & Zoe Saldana To Return For ‘Avatar’ Sequels: Fox Eyeing End Of Year Start Read More »

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UPDATED: Sam Worthington & Zoë Saldana To Return For ‘Avatar’ Sequels; Fox Eyeing End Of Year Start

Zoe Saldana Sam WorthingtonUPDATED: Avatar stars Sam Worthington and Zoë Saldana will reprise their roles in the next three sequels to James Cameron‘s 2009 sci-fi fantasy blockbuster, Fox announced today. Worthington returns to the franchise as Jake Sully, the wheelchair-bound Marine who finds new life on the alien world of Pandora with the Na’vi people and Neytiri, a Na’vi huntress, in the first $2.8 billion-scoring film. Saldana will reprise her Neytiri role joining Worthington in Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4 which Cameron and Jon Landau will produce via Lightstorm Entertainment. These are new deals for Worthington and Saldana but are basically in line with their previous deals, Deadline is hearing. When a third sequel was added to Cameron’s grand plan, renegotiations were in order.

Avatar sequelsThe currently untitled sequels will be filmed back to back with Avatar 2 set to release in December 2016. The subsequent sequels will follow in December 2017 and 2018, respectively. A start date is still TBA but Fox is eyeing December 2014/January 2015 to begin filming through March 2015. They have to give the actors four months of prep. Deadline hears the plan is to shoot the films’ extensive motion capture scenes first, then film all the live-action footage. But a source with knowledge of the production says it’s ultimately up to … Read More »

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Disney Breaks Ground On ‘Avatar’ Attraction In Orlando: Video

By | Friday January 10, 2014 @ 1:14pm PST

AvatarLandDisney announced its deal to add Avatar-licensed attractions to its parks two years ago, and today it officially kicked off construction on Pandora at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The plan is to have it finished in 2017, complete with a bioluminescent jungle cruise, floating mountains, a new nighttime spectacular, and a flying Banshee simulator attraction among other “surprises.” On hand for shovel duty was Avatar producer Jon Landau and a crew of Disney execs including Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs. Check it out:

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Global Showbiz Watch 19: The Long List Is Getting Short Podcast

Global Showbiz Watch podcast 19Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione talks with host David Bloom about the imminent shakeout in the mammoth list of 76 films vying to join a nine-title shortlist for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Feature category, a list that includes such highly regarded notables as The Hunt, The Grandmaster, The Past, and The Grand BeautyThey also take a tour around the week’s international box office returns, which were dominated by a halfling’s hot date with a fire-breathing dragon and livened by a suddenly voracious German market; discuss what impact big new tax breaks may have had in encouraging Jim Cameron to take his Na’vi to New Zealand for three Avatar sequels; and celebrate the recent rediscovery of two short films featuring Peter Sellers at a crucial transition early in his extraordinary career.

Global Showbiz Watch episode 19 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch episode 19 (.M4A version)
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James Cameron To Make ‘Avatar’ Sequels In New Zealand; Government Unveils New Tax Breaks For International Productions

james cameronAfter making Avatar in Wellington, James Cameron’s three sequels are now also lined up to shoot in New Zealand. The Kiwi government says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox to see the director make each of the next Avatar installments locally. The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise given Cameron/Avatar‘s history Down Under, along with the helmer’s 2012 purchase of oodles of land in South Wairarapa, near Wellington. The news coincides with changes to the tax incentive structure in New Zealand which were also unveiled today. Under the new regs, the new Avatars could qualify for a total rebate of 25%.

avatarWhen the first Avatar was made in New Zealand, it delivered more than NZ$307M in spend for the local economy. The memo of understanding on the new movies includes several commitments inlcuding a spend of at least NZ$500M ($413.1M) on local production activity – ie, most of the live action shooting and VFX. There’s also an engagement to hire Kiwis in Head of Department roles with about 90% of the live action crew expected to be local. New Zealand will also get to host “at least one” official red carpet premiere. (The original film world premiered in London.) James Cameron and John Landau have also offered to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board. And, there is language on marketing and promotion of New Zealand and its film industry alongside the three Avatar films; the transfer of technological know-how to New Zealanders; retaining screen production infrastructure in New Zealand that could be used for industry training; and a commitment by both parties to grow the screen sector in New Zealand and to building a long term and productive relationship between the Crown and Lightstorm/Twentieth Century Fox.

Meanwhile, changes to the tax incentive scheme announced by the local government today will see a hike in the rebate from 15% to 20% for international film and television productions. A further 5% will be available for international productions that deliver significant economic benefits to New Zealand. An as-yet undefined points system will determine eligibility. Read More »

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Fox Denied ‘Avatar’ Clothing Line Trademark

By | Thursday November 14, 2013 @ 1:46pm PST

James Cameron has won a string of Avatar legal battles recently but it looks like The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board isn’t going to be one of them. Already turned down once, 20th Century Fox was again refused its request to register the “Pandorapedia” name as a trademark on a planned Avatar-related clothing line of tagged T-shirts, PJs and more. The TTAB denied the studio’s appeal on the trademark earlier this month, saying it was too close to the trademark already used by Pandora Sportswear Corp. “We find that the marks PANDORA and PANDORAPEDIA are similar and thus…favors a finding of likelihood of confusion,” said the TTAB in its 8-page opinion (read it here). The opinion was sent out to Fox on November 8. Read More »

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‘Avatar’ Theft Plaintiff Loses Bid To Disqualify Judge

By | Monday October 28, 2013 @ 12:39pm PDT

That’s the second Avatar legal loss in a row for Eric Ryder and another win for James Cameron. Three weeks after LA Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason granted the director’s motion for summary judgment, Ryder’s efforts to have her dismissed from the case have now also failed. Ryder wanted the judge pulled from the case because her husband is a line producer who has worked on Fox projects such as We Bought A Zoo. The plaintiff claimed in a 2011 complaint that Cameron ripped off the 2009 blockbuster from an environmental themed story of his entitled K.R.Z. 2068. Ryder said that execs at Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment had read the story back in the ’90s. Having taken a hit in early October in the case, two weeks ago Ryder’s lawyers alleged a lack of impartiality on the part of Bryant-Deason. Funny thing is Fox aren’t even a defendant in the suit, only Cameron and Lightstorm are. On October 23, the court gave tossed Ryder’s latest maneuver too. “A party simply can’t wait to see what happens in a case, before deciding to investigate or assert known facts as a basic for disqualification for cause. By not filing a timely motion to disqualify, objections to the assigned judge are waived,” wrote Bryant-Deason herself in the 11-page order (read it here). Beside Fox not being … Read More »

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Disney Previews ‘Avatar’ Land; Expansion To Open In 2017

By | Saturday October 12, 2013 @ 7:59pm PDT

It’s been two years since Disney announced its deal to add Avatar-licensed attractions to its parks, but over the weekend at D23 in Tokyo the company finally jumpstarted the countdown clock to 2017. Here’s a peek at Disney’s plans to bring James Cameron‘s Pandora to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom by 2017 complete with a bioluminescent jungle cruise, floating mountains, a new nighttime spectacular, and a flying Banshee simulator attraction:

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Another James Cameron ‘Avatar’ Lawsuit Dismissed

By | Thursday October 3, 2013 @ 9:19am PDT

Score another victory for James Cameron in his slew of Avatar lawsuits. The writer-director of the 2009 blockbuster yesterday prevailed in a suit brought against him by Eric Ryder, who claimed that Cameron had used his ideas in the film. LA Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason granted Cameron’s motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing Ryder’s suit in its entirety. The judge ruled that it was undisputed that Avatar was independently created by Cameron. “Sadly, it seems that whenever a successful motion picture is produced, there are people who try to ‘get rich quick’ by claiming their ideas were used”, Cameron said in a statement today released by Fox. “Several such claims have been asserted in connection with Avatar. I am grateful that our courts have consistently found these claims to be meritless.” In February, Cameron won a case against Gerald Morawski, who accused Cameron of ripping off his ideas for the pic. Among the lawsuits pending though is Bryant Moore’s $2.5 billion lawsuit against Cameron and Fox claiming that Avatar was stolen from his scripts. A federal judge in March granted a motion to dismiss the breach of implied contract claim in Moore’s 2011 suit but he did not dismiss Moore’s copyright claims. That trial date is pending.

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Fox & James Cameron Announce ‘Avatar’ Novels Based On Movie & Upcoming Sequels

By | Thursday August 22, 2013 @ 11:46am PDT

They won’t be in 3-D but you can hold them in your hand in either tablet or hardcover. Fox and James Cameron said today that Jumper author Steven Charles Gould has been brought on board to pen four Avatar novels based on and expanding on the blockbuster 2009 movie and its three upcoming sequels. The sequels are expected in December 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Read the release here: 

LOS ANGELES, August 22, 2013: Filmmaker James Cameron has tapped noted science fiction author Steven Charles Gould (Jumper) to write four stand-alone novels based upon – and expanding — Cameron’s history-making 2009 film Avatar, and Cameron’s stories for his three upcoming Avatar sequels.

Cameron commented, “Steven Gould is one of the shining lights in contemporary science fiction, and I’ve long admired the worlds and characters he’s created in his books and stories.  We’re very fortunate to have Steven bring his formidable talents to the Avatar universe.  He is already working closely with me and the screenwriters to flesh out the expanding world of Avatar.”

While Gould is best known for his 1992 novel Jumper, which Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency turned into a motion picture in 2008, he has been acclaimed for his short fiction, including his

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Fox Vamps James Cameron’s Triple ‘Avatar’ Sequels To Analysts

By | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 9:12am PDT

Deadline last Thursday revealed Fox’s plans to prepare three Avatar sequels that can be shot in succession, and here’s what Fox Filmed Entertainment chief Jim Gianopulos just told analysts: “Of course, Jim Cameron is finalizing the scripts– yes, that was plural– for the continuation of the saga that began with the highest grossing film in history– Avatar. The growing breadth and scale of Jim’s magnificent fantasy world will come to life through three films, scheduled for release in December 2016, December 2017, and December 2018. We’re confident these major cinematic events will amaze and enthrall audiences around the world.” The comments came in a presentation where the exec argued that Fox will continue to lead the industry in profitability due to its focus on franchises and global scale.

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Fox & James Cameron Slapped With $50M ‘Avatar’ Copyright Suit By Album Cover Artist

By | Friday June 28, 2013 @ 7:24pm PDT

The highest-grossing movie of all time is again the subject of a copyright legal battle. Artist William Roger Dean filed a complaint against James Cameron and 20th Century Fox on Thursday seeking more than $50 million in damages over Avatar. Unlike past Avatar plaintiffs, Dean has an established pedigree. He is a well known artist who has created album covers for such big-selling bands as Yes and Asia and exhibited his fantasy landscapes and other work around the world. In fact, it is the ubiquity of his work, as well as a movie proposal based on it that he took at the 2005 Cannes Film Fest, that has Dean convinced the look of the 2009 3D sci-fi film were derived from his images. “The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing, and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre. The infringing portions of Avatar are so similar to Plaintiffs Works that Defendants and others employed in the preparation of the film must have had access to the Plaintiffs Works,” says his 17-page complaint (read it here) filed June 27 in U.S District Court in New York. The filing cites numerous specific examples from the world of Pandora to the foliage and creatures that populate it where Dean sees his own work. Along with copyright infringement, Dean also is claiming contributory infringement, breach of implied contact, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

Related: James Cameron & Fox Denied Dismissal Of Latest ‘Avatar’ Suit

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