James Cameron Compares Avatar To Another Billion-Dollar Franchise

James Cameron had an interesting comp for his Avatar franchise and it goes to show that he is setting his sights as high as possible here.

By Doug Norrie | Updated

james cameron

When you are fixing to spend significantly more than a billion dollars on a franchise of films, I think it’s okay to start making some pretty huge comparisons to other massive franchises that have come before. In this way, money talks and if you are going to swing big, then swing all the way. That seems to be the case with James Cameron who has taken to comparing his Avatar franchise to one of the biggest fantasy franchises around as a comp for what they are trying to do with these films. In a recent interview, discussing what the plans were for Avatar and how they view it in the grand scheme of epic stories, Cameron made the comp to The Lord of the Rings for what they were trying to do with their scope and story. Like I said, at this level, you need to see yourself in the elite conversation of franchises.

James Cameron was talking with Empire Magazine (via MovieWeb) and was relaying how his discussions with the studio about making more Avatar movies led to some comparisons to other huge franchises. Cameron was adamant that if they were going to move forward with more films, it couldn’t just be in a one-off style with a flick coming out every few years to satiate the fanbase or just sell some tickets. Cameron, instead, wanted a vision of how the larger story and world would take shape, comparing it to adapting epic novels into movies. Except in this case, as James Cameron references, there was no actual source material for Avatar. They had to create that themselves. Check out what James Cameron had to say about it:

“What I said to Fox regime at the time was, ‘I’ll do it, but we’ve got to play a larger game here. I don’t want to just do a movie and do a movie and do a movie. I want to tell a bigger story.’ I said, ‘Imagine a series of novels like The Lord of the Rings existed, and we’re adapting them.’ Now that was great in theory, but then I had to create the fricken’ novels from which to adapt it.”

It’s now been nearly 13 years since Avatar first hit screens back in 2013. To say it was a success would be a massive understatement. James Cameron put together a vision for a movie unlike almost anything we’d seen up until that point and it ended up paying the highest dividends possible. The movie remains the highest-grossing film of all time at $2.85 billion in box office sales. Rescreenings have helped the number over the years and, as of this writing, it’s narrowly edging out Avengers: Endgame. 

The sequel Avatar: The Way of Water is due out on December 16th of this year. And though it isn’t likely to eclipse its predecessor in terms of box office performance, it is projected to be a massive flick based on the popularity of the first and the continued story fans have been waiting patiently for going on more than a decade. The story will pick up after the first and returns Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana as Jake Sully and Neytiri respectively. With similar themes to the first time around, the two are tasked with helping to save their planet from a threat. And from the looks of things, The Way of Water will grow the world considerably from the first.

Dreaming huge is just what James Cameron has done with Avatar and it’s great to hear he’s setting his story comp alongside one of the best ever. It lends a lot of confidence for what’s slated to come next in Avatar considering there are five movies planned in total for this franchise.