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Although the Avatar movie is not going to be released until the end of this year, it has been floating around in director James Cameron's head for over a decade now. Read more about the history of Avatar and the long journey it has undergone to get where it is today.1995James Cameron puts his idea for the Avatar movie to paper. He creates an 80-page scriptment that's half-script, half-treatment and that represents everything he's ever enjoyed about science fiction.August 1996After completing the blockbuster Titanic, James Cameron announces that he will begin work on the Avatar movie with a budget of $100 million. He plans to heavily rely on CGI, including completely replacing some actors with computer-generated actors.1997Cameron believed that production would start by the end of the year with the help from new partner to the project, Digital Domain. Instead, the project gets put on the back burner for the time being.December 2001The Lord of the Rings movies begin to be released, including the character Gollum. In the movies, Gollum was portrayed by actor Andy Serkis, then CG was rotoscoped over his scenes.June 2005James Cameron announces that he will start two new projects concurrently; Battle Angel (based on a manga of the same name) and the tentatively titled Project 880. Of the two projects, he plans to release Battle Angel first.December 2005Peter Jackson's King Kong is released, whose namesake is a CG character. Like the Lord of the Rings movies, King Kong was first portrayed by Andy Serkis, then rotoscoped to produce the final effect. The CG in this movie is highly praised as believable and emotional and the movie received much acclaim.February 2006After announcing his intent to switch the release Project 880 to 2007 and Battle Angel to 2009, James Cameron reveals that Project 880 is really just a "retooled version of Avatar." Although he had difficulties getting the film off the ground in previous years, he cites the CG characters Gollum, King Kong, and the upcoming Davy Jones as proof that the technology has reached a satisfactory level to complete his projects.June 2006If the production of Avatar is successful, Cameron says that he would like to make a trilogy from the film. Meanwhile, he continues to work on the script, creating a language for an alien race, the Na'vi.July 2006Disney's Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest is released to theatres, featuring the motion-captured Bill Nighy as the CG character Davy Jones. The character was so realistic, many moviegoers did not even realize that Davy Jones was CG in the first place. At this point, Cameron hopes to release Avatar in summer of 2008 and begin principle photography in early 2007.August 2006Weta Digital, a visual effects studio, and Stan Winston, a make-up artist and visual effects supervisor, sign on to help produce Avatar. September 2006
Cameron announces his decision to use the Reality Camera System to film the movie in 3D.January 2007A live-action adaptation of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender is set to be directed by M. Night Shyamalan for Paramount Pictures. There is a dispute as to who owns the rights to the movie title Avatar, Cameron or Shymalan. Paramount eventually concedes, renaming their project simply The Last Airbender.April 2007Principal photography for Avatar begins in Los Angeles and New Zealand. Read more about all known Avatar filming locations.June 2007Production designers for Avatar visit the Gulf of Mexico to photograph, measure, and film a drilling rig as an inspiration for the alien planet Pandora.March 2008Composer James Horner records parts of the film score, including a chorus singing in the Na'vi alien language. A tagline for the movie is chosen: "An All New World Awaits"May 2009James Cameron licenses Avatar to be made into an MMORPG (like World of Warcraft) by computer game publisher Ubisoft.June 23, 2009James Cameron previews 24 minutes of Avatar movie to over 1,000 industry professionals at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive.October 2009Mattel debuts a line of Avatar action figures that can be used to unlock related content on a user's computer.November 24, 2009Ubisoft releases the new action-adventure Avatar video game.December 18, 2009Avatar is released to theaters nationwide.