Disney and Cameron to bring Avatar to Theme Parks
ComingSoon.net and insiders from their respective studios have confirmed that James Cameron is working with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide to bring the Avatar world of Pandora to Disney theme parks, launching first at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
Robert Iger, Pres and CEO of The Walt Disney Company seems eager: “James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible. With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
James Cameron agrees: “‘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. 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.”
So, 2 sequels planned and any number of theme park attractions in the works. Well now, that leads me to:
I have a not so secret disdain for Avatar. I don’t hate the movie, but nor do I think it rises to the echelons of other Jim Cameron films, deserves the mountains of money that it made, justifies TWO sequels or should be a natural choice for a new Disney attraction. I fear that somehow the beautifully crafted Tree of Life at the heart of The Animal Kingdom park will be bastardized in order to make it Pandora friendly.
A lot of people have tried to make the points of “Well, they put in Star Wars and Indiana Jones rides in the parks, even a Twilight Zone ride, so why complain?” and to that, I say, because all of those properties became pretty deeply seated into popular culture despite being 20, 30 and 50 years old before they got their chance as rides. They’re icons that go beyond cult status. Avatar is a mediocre movie wrapped in a shiny package. It’s a flash in the pan that won’t have any relevance in 10 years. I’ll give you an example, shift backwards precisely 10 years from today. The Matrix had already been out for 2 years and had received nearly the same critical (actually better) acclaim and popularity. If Universal Studios or even Disney turned it into a theme park attraction, would it be at all popular today? I’d wager not.
Others will say “Doesn’t the money it made prove it was a good film?” and to that I say: Hardly. It made so much because tickets were effectively and unabashedly overpriced to justify the 3D effect. If a film has to lean on a 50 year old gimmick to overcome a run-of-the-mill plot and stale acting, it can’t justify a 40% price hike.
I understand Disney’s desire to boost ticket sales to an under-performing park and I’m not lost on the mutually shared message of sustaining our natural resources and nurturing our relationship with the plants and animals of our home planet. That said, despite new a concept this is for Disney, this partnership with Cameron reeks of selling out; a money grab that will be paved with Na’vi stuffed animals, glowing Fan-Lizard toys and remote control flying Scorpion Gunships found inside the gift shop conveniently located as you exit the ride.
I should note that this is but one Geek’s opinion and not everyone at the MG offices shares it. But they’re welcome to write their own articles ;)