UPDATE, 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 yet 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 »
UPDATED: 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 … Read More »
Deadline 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 Beauty. They 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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After 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%.
When 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 »
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 »
A fatal accident back in February 2012 on the documentary DeepSea Challenge has ended up in LA Superior Court. The estate of Michael deGruy on Monday filed a wrongful death and survival claims complaint (read it here) naming James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment as well as Earthship Productions and Cameron Pace Group as defendants. The Oscar-winning director is not named as a defendant. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified punitive damages as well as pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to be determined in a 20-day jury trial. DeGruy was on a helicopter that crashed on February 4, 2012, off the coast of Australia during the filming of Cameron’s documentary. Both deGruy and pilot Andrew Wright were killed in the crash and resulting fire. DeGruy had hopped on the chopper to go to a nearby location to film the ocean decent of the specially equipped submarine. The plaintiffs are very clear whose fault they believe that accident was. “The Cameron Defendants, GWP and Does 51-100 knew or should have known that Andrew Wight was incompetent or unfit to fly the subject helicopter and that the subject helicopter was not crashworthy and its design posed a risk of severe injury and/or death in the event of a crash,” the 45-page complaint says.
Related: ‘Avatar’ Theft Plaintiff Loses Bid To Disqualify Judge
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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, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Even though Stephen Lang‘s Col. Miles Quaritch character seemed to have run his course in 20th Century Fox’s Avatar, director James Cameron has revealed that Lang is not only returning for the sequel, he’s going to be part of the next three films. It sounds like he’s the closest thing to a mix between Star Wars‘ Darth Vader and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character. “Steven was so memorable in the first film, we’re privileged to have him back,” Cameron said. “I’m not going to say exactly how we’re bringing him back, but it’s a science fiction story, after all. His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who’s also become a good friend.”
Cameron has been working out brainy plot details throughout his career — how many times has the time travel concept from the original Terminator film been swiped over the years — so I’ll bet he’s come up with something thrilling. As for Lang, he’s been turning in memorable performances since going back to the Michael Mann TV series Crime Story and in character roles in films like White Irish Drinkers. Good on Lang, who’s repped by Innovative.
Related: ‘Avatar’ Sequels Upped To 3; Trio Of Writers Set To Spearhead
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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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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, … Read More »
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 … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have upped the number of Avatar sequels they’ll make from two to three, and they’ve set three high-level screenwriters (one is a team) to get the movies in shape to be shot simultaneously. That is easily a recipe for the most expensive set of pictures ever made, and an ambitious production plan not seen since New Line and Peter Jackson made three The Lord Of The Rings films back to back. Back then, Jackson was coming off The Frighteners. Fox at least has the confidence of knowing Cameron’s last two films are the biggest-grossing pictures in movie history, with Avatar at the top by a wide margin. It’s still a gutsy play; it is not unimaginable that three Avatar installments could cost close to $1 billion. The original grossed $2.8 billion.
Cameron has set War Of The Worlds scribe Josh Friedman to write one film; Rise Of Planet Of The Apes‘ Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver to write another; with the third to be written by Shane Salerno, who wrote and directed the upcoming documentary Salinger and who previously worked with Cameron on a remake of Fantastic Voyage at Fox. The writers will collaborate with Cameron separately and co-write three separate movies with him.
The three pictures will be filmed simultaneously with production beginning next year. The release of the first sequel will be in December 2016, with the second to follow in December 2017, and the third a year later. Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Lightstorm will work once again with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital on the three films.
The choice of writers came after Cameron and Landau spent weeks meeting with A-list screenwriters vying for the job. They’ve been working with Cameron from his Manhattan Beach studio. Read More »
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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The fallout from Digital Domain Media Group’s bankruptcy continues with investors in the troubled special effects and 3D conversion firm taking the former CEO, the company’s auditors and other executives to court for fraud. Having lost millions in the James Cameron-founded company just before it went under last September, Iroquois Master Fund and Kingsbrook Opportunities Master Fund late last week filed a six claim complaint (read it here) against John Textor, his wife Deborah, various DDMG directors and auditors SingerLewak LLP. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages as well as interest, legal fees and “such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.” The complaint in New York State Supreme Court alleges common law fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, negligent misrepresentations and omissions, negligence, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and civil conspiracy. Read More »
Producer Jon Landau revealed today at the 2013 NAB Technology Summit on Cinema that Jim Cameron “will do performance capture in water” on the sequels to his 2009 Fox megahit. “We want to take advantage of the technologies brilliant people are putting out to make the next two movies even more emotionally engaging and visually tantalizing, and to really wrap up the story arc of our two main characters”, Landau said in his keynote chat today. The filmmakers are currently exploring technologies to allow for underwater capture of actors’ performances “because we can simulate it visually but can’t simulate it experientially for them”.
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A year ago this week, James Cameron was seven miles beneath the ocean’s surface for the Deepsea Challenge. The unique research and exploration project took him to the bottom of the Challenger Deep — the … Read More »
James Cameron and Fox today did not get their request for a total dismissal of Bryant Moore’s $2.5 billion lawsuit claiming that Avatar was stolen from his scripts. The defendants did get some legal traction when federal Judge Roger W. Titus granted a motion Monday to dismiss the breach of implied contract claim in Moore’s 2011 suit. However, he did not dismiss Moore’s copyright claims in the hearing in the Southern District of Maryland over the 3D blockbuster. The ruling means the jury trial-requested case will go forward, with discovery to occur next during the next four to six months.
Moore sued the director, his Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation on December 19, 2011. The writer claimed that copies of his Aquatica and Descendants: The Pollination screenplays made their way to Cameron in 1993 and 1994 through Lightstorm production assistants. Though Moore says he was eventually told the company did not accept the submissions, he found “striking substantial similarities” between his scripts and 2009’s Avatar. Cameron has said in court filings that he had Avatar mapped out in a detailed scriptment before any such materials by Moore were submitted to his company. Moore is seeking $1.5 billion in profits and another $1 billion in punitive damages. Read More »
“Clear, undisputed evidence” reveals director James Cameron came up with the concept for Avatar, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in Los Angeles. Late last week, Judge Margaret Murrow granted (read the … Read More »