Now this is surprising, but not entirely unexpected...
The Walt Disney Company has licensed James Cameron's "Avatar" for an attraction based in Disney's Animal Kingdom for debut after the release of the next film. So, Universal has Spielberg and now Disney has Cameron helping design themed attractions? Here's the press release:
BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.
“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. “I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”
The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.
“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”
“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”
In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.
This new venture complements Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ strategic efforts to continue to invest in its core theme park businesses around the world while simultaneously expanding into other parts of the family vacation business.
More commentary to follow...
Hat Tip to Deadline Hollywood.
This is interesting. Cameron is a notorious control freak (which is one of the reasons why he is so successful). He also has no tolerance for cutting corners or doing ANY creative venture on the cheap; or for crony-culture (recruiting unqualified, but connected "talent" for a project). So let's review: here you have the most notorious and articulate control freak in Hollywood partnering with Hollywood's most notoriously penny-pinching and dysfunctional "entertainment" company (that wouldn't even sign off on giveing J.K. Rowling creative control over a proposed ill-fated Harry Potter attraction).
I will be amazed if this project makes it past the initial design phase.
So they are going to buid a Pocahontas attraction, paint the characters blue an set it in a bio-luminescent forest, right?
Something about this leaves me feeling disturbed. I'd rather see imagineers tackle something more 'original' or Disney-based for the future of the parks.
However that is just my personal preference. If you loved the films, then you'll probably be happy to hear this piece of news.
not just a ride.. a land! AVATARland! =(
HONOR?! What does this mean for any kind of TRON ride?? Is it as good as dead now? Since TRON: Legacy was supposed to be Disney's AVATAR... And well.. It didn't quite do as well.
Are we forever left with the, pretty cool at first, awesome at night, UGLY BY DAY EelecTRONica??
What does this venture mean for John Carter (of mars)?? Hath Disney no faith in tharr selfs Space Adventures??
Finally, my dream of a Stephen Lang audio-animatronic is coming true!
In all the talk of Disney coming up with something on-par to Harry Potter, Avatar never ever crossed my mind. But... I'm surprised, and I like it!
One has to wonder if they ran into a snafu that prevented this from popping up at D23.
Pandora could translate into a beautiful land - I'd say it's less beastly kingdom and more 'alien' kingdom. Hopefully beastly kingdom is still coming down the pipe in the future, but I totally understand why Disney wants to put this out first.
This is exciting news. I remember on his podcast Jim Hill saying Universal was in talks with Fox to get Avatar in their parks. I guess Disney didn't want to miss out on this one like they did with HP.
Avatar 2 comes out in 2014 so hopefully the new attraction/land will coincide.
I'm excited! Don't think the movie was that good, but these plans could turn out very, very good. And they may even incorporate the REAL Pocahontas ;-)
Will they finally tear down Dino-Rama now? :D
Maybe the success of their missed venture has changed their minds.
While the announcement is that first appearance of AVATAR is for AK, it is no coincidence that AVATAR was/is huge in China.
Wow a shocker and not sure what to think. Perhaps they can rework Dinosaur into avatar and bring the whole thing to life. Common guys.. the parks need the money to rejuvinate Disney themes and less outside garbage. Disney have lots of interesting possibilites. Tron for example. James Cameron must be laughing all the way to the bank.
Harry Potter as a theme park attraction completely made sense (from the beginning). But I don't get this at all. I just don't see how it is going to work.
Kind of strange that Disney is going all in on a franchise that hasn't proven itself.
A Star Wars area at the Studios or as a whole New Park would have been the better bet.
I can see this working well with Animal Kingdom. I'd assume we'll be getting a Star Tours style helicopter battle ride and then an animatronic Dinosaur style journey through Pandora. The nice thing is that having a scifi animal themed land would allow the park to carry slightly more Tommorrow Land style rides.
On the other hand this super bothers me. Avatar? Really? I know it's a huge movie but it doesn't feel like something with staying power and no matter how much they try there's no way in hell it'll get people over from Potter in the way I assume they intended.
Why didn't they just ask Lucas for a Star Wars park? Like a legit new gate of Star Wars. It's had 30+ years of staying power, two TV shows in active development, one on the air with no signs of slowing down, six planned years of movie rereleases, a massive Cars level amount of toy sales, and is STAR WARS. They could even put a mini park in Animal Kingdom and have it be Endor, or Felucia, or however you spell Chewie's world.
I wonder if the ultimate success of any individual attractions that are developed under an Avatar theme will come down to the Imagineers assigned to overseeing the project (in which case I would hope for someone like Kathy Rogers serving as show producer and not Kathy Mangum or Tom Fitzgerald)- though I suspect that James Cameron won't tolerate things if it doesn't meet his demanding specifications.
I thought this was a joke until I realized it is no where near April 1st. Is this really the Disney answer to Harry Potter? Universal opens a land based on a franchise, Disney opens a land based on a franchise, who's the leader in the industry? Avitar fits into Animal Kingdom the same way Arizona based Cars Land fits into a theme park about California, it fits because Disney and their PR machine says so and we all say yes it's brilliant because its a sin to question Disney. I can't wait for the ticked price hike, the plethora of spinning flat rides and yet another 3-D attraction based on Spiderman and by that time Transformers. Disney is so, innovative.
I would like it if Disney released Avatar. But they didn't.
People you should really leave your comments to yourself until you see what Disney is planning to do with this land. This partnership makes just as much sense as Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Muppets (now owned by Disney but not when first introduced to the parks). There is so much potential with the next two movies for tremendous growth and a continued and increased following by fans. The technology that James Cameron utilizes and Disney's innovation track record are proof enough that this will be a beautiful, richly detailed, fun and innovative land.
I wouldn't focus too much on the branding but the world. If Disney were to create a land based on possible human colony planet with tones of conservation and biological harmony... would people be disappointed?
Whether or not you care for the story, James Cameron created an amazing locale, and that's what we are getting - so is that really a bad thing?
I'm hoping for a HP esque ride AND a dive coaster. One that is shaped like that big pterodactyl from the movie that everyone loads onto. It would fly through those floating mountains... Throw in a show scene or two with a big dive finale over the cliff towards the ocean culminating in a splash down element.
*fingers crossed for two decent rides*
THIS IS GODDAMN NUTS.
IGER MUST GO!
One thing I like about the choice of Avatar is that it breaks the "kiddie" ride stigma that's been going on at the Disney Theme Parks for the past few years.
As entertaining as Toy Story Midway Mania and Little Mermaid are, they're both based on Disney properties and thus need to play it a little safe. You can't have thrills on a ride with Woody and Buzz.
Avatar, on the other hand, is a PG-13 sci-fi epic. This gives the imagineers an opportunity to cut loose and focus on thrills and action. They can build an exciting E-ticket attraction and not have to worry about complaints from parents. It's Avatar, it's not for little kids.
And I imagine after doing cartoon-based attractions for years, it's a nice change of pace to start designing weird sci-fi landscapes and creatures.
To me Avatar was not that great, it was just a cross between Return of the Jedi and Aliens (The second movie). I think they were just looking at the fact that Avatar is the highest grossing film, but you have to consider other factors, like characters, merchandise, staying power, etc.
I think Star Wars is a much richer, longer lasting franchise to build a theme park around. For Disney to do Avatar instead of Star Wars is a big mistake. Maybe they just didn't want to lose Avatar like they lost Harry Potter, but it doesn't matter, you already have the best franchise in Star Wars, you just have to make the most of it.
My only hope is that they still have plans for Star Wars to come...
I think another reason why Disney bought the "Avatar rights is because if they didn't, somebody else would. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Universal got them?
"I guess Disney was too lame to go after Avatar."
"Once again Disney has lost out on an exciting franchise."
"20 years from Avatar is going to be far more popular than it is now, and Disney's going to be kicking itself."
Seriously, it would Harry Potter all over again.
"This is exciting news. I remember on his podcast Jim Hill saying Universal was in talks with Fox to get Avatar in their parks. I guess Disney didn't want to miss out on this one like they did with HP."
Well, it looks like Universal was able to draw Disney into making a deal on Avatar with Cameron. BIG MISTAKE.
Bet Universal is getting a big laugh out of this. While they work on their next outstanding attraction, Disney will be mired in trying to come up with anything viable under the Avatar theme.
Isn't Disney going to have mud on their face again when Universal Studios in Florida opens a Lord or the Rings Middle Earth Land? Go to Islands for Potter and Studios for Rings. Avatar will be a snore fest when Universal breaks this on the mouse. The saddest thing about this whole situation is Disney could have spent their money on Middle Earth and really competed with Potter.
This is what happens when you have the former CFO now running Parks & Resorts.
An economist now having "creative epiphanies" and driving those decisions.
CHRIS, you should leave YOUR COMMENTS about others comments to yourself. If you want to stifle the voices of others, then you would have a place in Iran or North Korea or... Mouschwitz. Oh wait, is that it? Do you work for the draconian, tight-fisted and talentless corporate suits in Burbank/Glendale?
I have admired the fact that Honor has remained impartial to ALL opinions expressed on this blog. It is this kind of diversified exchange that promotes eventual change and, ideally, innovation.
BTW, the clumsy Screamscape happily reports that the allotted budget for the project is around half a billion.
I once worked with a former imagineer that worked on the original ToT. He told me the design phase on that attraction usurped almost ALL of the allotted 40 million budget, resulting in less than half of the planned attraction in the end.
I am certain we can expect the same bloated and indulgent waste preceding diminished results on this project as well. Our only hope hope that this will go well is that Cameron has complete creative and budgetary control of the project and that WDI is basically his contractor. Id that is the plan, then this might meet everyones aspiritions.
Disney DID plan a Harry Potter attraction. But the idiots refused J.K Rowling's insistence that she have creative control over the project. So the "geniuses" at WDC declined.
However Universal agreed to those terms resulting in a far greater attraction than what would have been spoon-fed to us by the mouse.
I'm in agreement with the numerous comments here that a Star Wars park would be a much bet for Disney. This is a very questionable move by the mouse.
Disney should be using the money to build Beastly Kingdomme and designing original fantasy creatures and concepts for it, rather than buying a movie concept it didn't create and won't even be relevant anymore once the stupid ride is built.
And who likes Avatar? Families? Kids? NO, mostly geeks. Avatar doesn't have the broad appeal of Potter, much less Disney, so Iger's already shot himself in the foot. What an ass.
My favorite part of this whole thing has been reading the reactions to it.
Some people take theme parks way too seriously. I mean like, they feel personally offended by this. How is that possible?
I have to say, you come to a blog by a Disney fan, that is read and commented on by Disneyphiles, and you really have to ask that question?
You must not understand any geek or fan culture at all, or just like to poke fun at it. Go do some research; it happens everywhere.
Anon at 6:11pm, it is extremely odd. Look at micechat... there are users on there that are downright masochistic lunatics.
I've long figured that these people have serious mental conditions. No, I'm not joking or being sarcastic.
These people have been big Disney fans all their lives, and then something happened. They got dumped, fired, etc. and essentially formed massive inferiority complexes. They now spend all their time lashing out their anger in a medium with no consequences, the internet. All they do is spend their time whining about things so as to feel important and different. The more they are upset about things, the better it makes them feel about themselves because it gives them purpose. They thrive upon conflict and negativity because it is all they have left.
Places like micechat give them asylum and even encourage the practice as the conflicting discussions do nothing but add more hits to their website (they themselves have said it's a business).
Their 'leader' al lutz has been recorded to be mentally unstable. Any trip back into the history of Disney internet fandom will find him lashing out at people, campaigns to cause professional and social harm to singled out Disney workers, and there's the time he personally sought out a child's address and went to the kids home so as to confront him and his family for what had been said online.
Everything is there plain as day when it comes to unhealthy negative Disney people... they are not sound.
"BTW, the clumsy Screamscape happily reports that the allotted budget for the project is around half a billion." Uh.....yeah. $500 million won't buy much, certainly not with Mr. Cameron.
""Some people take theme parks way too seriously. I mean like, they feel personally offended by this. How is that possible?""
Might it be due to Disney's whole campaigns surrounding people's celebrations, Memories and Dreams. Disney parks ARE personal for many many many people. From celebrating birthdays to getting engaged. People experience magical and memorable experiences in their parks that stay with them for their entire lives. If that isn't personal then I don't know what is.
Disney is more then a theme-park for a lot of people.
Hey, this is Anon 6:11
Might it be due to Disney's whole campaigns surrounding people's celebrations, Memories and Dreams.
That's an excellent point. For whatever reason, internet people seem to take a little more seriously than normal people, so when something doesn't live up to their expectations, the disappointment is magnified.
Look at micechat... there are users on there that are downright masochistic lunatics.
My favorite poster on MiceChat is Mr. Wiggins. He insists he's been boycotting the Disney Theme Parks for over a decade yet he posts on the website every day about how he hates the Walt Disney Company. It can be healthy to be that obsessed with hating something.
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