‘Avatar’ premiere rolls out the blue carpet for sci-fi epic

Dec. 17, 2009 | 8:01 a.m.


Amy Kaufman, one of the newer members of the entertainment coverage team at the Los Angeles Times, braved the madness of the “Avatar” premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Wednesday. This is a longer version of her story, which will appear in today’s editions of the paper. She also shot the video.

Hundreds of fans crowded behind barricades along Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday hoping for a glimpse of celebrities walking down a Pandora-blue carpet rolled out to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of James Cameron’s sci-fi epic “Avatar” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

The adventure film — hailed by some in Hollywood as “the game changer” for its special-effects wizardry and 3-D approach — is winning over critics and appears poised for a strong opening weekend. The film’s stars, including Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington, as well as interested celebrities such as Bill Paxton and Tom Arnold, came out to support the movie. Also among the interested observers: Fox co-Chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, who have plenty riding on the most expensive film in Hollywood history with a budget somewhere north of $310 million.

The biggest star in the film never appears on the screen — “Avatar” is the first feature film by Cameron since “Titanic” broke box-office records in Hollywood with its theatrical run in 1997 and 1998. The director — who has been called a visionary, a crowd-pleaser or a tyrant (it depends on whom you ask)  — stood clutching the hand of his wife, Suzy Amis, and talked to reporters nearly 30 minutes after the film was scheduled to screen. With a big grin, he said he found the early acclaim from critics especially exciting.

The 55-year-old director also said he hoped any success the film has will help the emerging technologies — though he also considers himself an innovative storyteller.

“I’m a techno geek and I love the innovative processes, but I never put that before telling a story,” Cameron said. “I spent a lot of time in the writing, I spent a lot of time thinking about the characters. I love working with the actors finding the characters. I love the casting process, finding the actors that will bring those characters to life.”

Zoe Saldana, who plays the blue-skinned alien princess Neytiri, said she hopes her role will encourage other actors to work with Cameron’s refined performance-capture technology.

“I think as actors, besides the fact that you want to play roles that are unique and are very different from the ones you’ve played before, you also want to continue challenging yourself,” she said. “And part of that is also challenging technology and working with it. And when technology works in your favor and gives a filmmaker or an artist an ability to continue growing and capturing his vision, as opposed to limiting it, that can only be a good thing in my eyes.”

Saldana blew kisses to fans while Michelle Rodriguez, who plays a tough military pilot, stopped to pose for photographs with those who called out her name. One reporter standing on the press line had painted his face dark blue and tousled his hair to resemble the Na’vi tribe members in the film.

Aussie actor Sam Worthington, “Avatar’s” hero Jake Sully, was accompanied by a petite brunette he introduced to others as “his girl.” Worthington, who stars next in “Clash of the Titans,” said he first met Cameron in the summer of 2006, long before he had any idea of the phenomenon the film would turn into.

“Like any actor, you fear unemployment, you get the opportunity to go for a job and you do the best you can. You know stepping into Jim Cameron’s world it’s gonna be quite monumental and that’s an understatement. But you do your best. That’s all you can really do.”

— Amy Kaufman



LAT REVIEW: “Avatar” restores a sense of wonder to moviegoing

Sigourney Weaver, queen of sci-fi: “Outer space has been good to me”

Meet the USC professor who created an entire language for Avatar

Avatar” designer on Jim Cameron, banshees and ‘Delgo’ comparisons

Michelle Rodriguez says “Avatar” was like making “Star Wars”

Jon Landau on wild budget reports: “They’re all false” 

“Avatar” star Zoe Saldana says movie will match the hype: “This is big”

Jim Cameron, cinema prophet? “Moving a mountain is nothing” 

Sam Worthington looks for “Avatar’s” humanity: “I don’t want to be a cartoon”

Giovanni Ribisi pretty much loves Jim Cameron

James Cameron on “Avatar”: Like “Matrix,” it opens doorways

VIDEO: “Avatar” interviews with Sigourney Weaver and Jon Landau


— Amy Kaufman


7 Responses to ‘Avatar’ premiere rolls out the blue carpet for sci-fi epic

  1. Jon Gillenwater says:

    Looking forward to seeing more work by the talented and Beautiful Zoe Saldana… She even looks great as a 10-foot, Blue, Feline-esque Alien…MEOW!!!

  2. Tanmay says:

    Watched AVATAR in 3D 2day at Premier Show on Thursday, 17th DEcember, 2009 at 4:00 PM (IST) at Fame Cinemas (famecinemas.com).
    This is an Ultimate Movie Expirence ever in my whole Life ever.
    Jaw dropping, amazing, outstanding, Gr8t in3D
    can't imagine the whole movie in 3D of 2Hrs 46mins seat grasping (sitting on the same chair for)
    Wathed thrice on the same day

  3. Tanmay says:

    Watched AVATAR in 3D 2day at Premier Show on Thursday, 17th December, 2009 at 4:00 PM (IST) at Fame Cinemas (famecinemas.com), Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
    This is an Ultimate Movie Expirence ever in my whole Life ever.
    Jaw dropping, amazing, outstanding, Gr8t in3D
    can't imagine the whole movie in 3D of 2Hrs 46mins seat grasping (sitting on the same chair for)
    Wathed thrice on the same day

  4. mark hunter says:

    Best film i have ever seen by far!!
    the emotion the story and the characters bring out in you is incredible

  5. Tanmay says:

    the Blue Mokeys were of 10 foots in height with great facial expresions. There GOD Ewya awesome. There hair style and hair tip connector to any animal was awoesome

  6. Steve Real says:

    Avatar is a classic scenario you've seen in Hollywood epics from Dances With Wolves, Dune, District 9 and The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member.
    If we think of Avatar and its ilk as white fantasies about race, what kinds of patterns do we see emerging in these fantasies?
    A white man who was one of the oppressors switches sides at the last minute, assimilating into the alien culture and becoming its savior.
    These are movies about white guilt. Our main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color – their cultures, their habitats, and their populations.
    The whites realize this when they begin to assimilate into the "alien" cultures and see things from a new perspective. To purge their overwhelming sense of guilt, they switch sides, become "race traitors," and fight against their old comrades. But then they go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed.
    This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It's not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it's not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It's a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside.

  7. Scott White says:

    A new dawn(and an assortmant of planets) has arisen in movie making. Avatar has raised the bar and not in a cartoonish way. This movie should open up a few new Oscar catagories as well. Best planet, biggest earth(other planet)movers and other heavy equipment, best alien little things like the seedlings of the Tree of Life and Past Spirits.
    Watch out Hobbits here come the Navi.
    Watch our Mr. Jackson here comes Mr. Cameron.
    Ohhh it's gonna be great.

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