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Disney bringing Avatar to Animal Kingdom

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http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/09/details-emerge-about-disneys-plans-to-bring-avatar-to-its-parks.html The Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal to bring the fantasy world of "Avatar" to Disney Parks, starting with a multi-attraction themed land at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla. Director James Cameron and his producing partner Jon Landau -- the team behind the 2009 cinematic blockbuster "Avatar" -- will serve as creative consultants, working with Walt Disney Imagineering to bring the fantasy world of Pandora and the broader Avatar universe to Disney's parks throughout the world. Ground-breaking at Animal Kingdom, the newest of four theme parks at the city-sized Walt Disney World in Orlando, is planned for 2013. "I'm chomping at the bit to start work with Disney's legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life," Cameron said in a statement announcing the deal Tuesday morning. "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." Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Jim Gianopulos, whose movie studio financed, marketed and distributed "Avatar," said Disney was a natural choice as a licensing partner because of its global reach and stature. He said the world Cameron envisioned, starting with Pandora and stretching out to include other creatures and settings, is a natural fit for a theme-park experience. "It lends itself very well, not only to subsequent films, but to be imagined and realized in the parks," Gianopulos said. "Yes, it's creative content. But what it really is is an immersive world. And that's what Disney intends to create." Cameron's earlier hit film, "Terminator 2," served as the basis for an attraction at several Universal Studios theme parks. Universal was believed to be interested in creating an "Avatar" 4D movie for its parks. Disney's deal with Cameron grants the entertainment giant exclusive global theme park rights to the "Avatar" franchise. The first film set the box office record for the highest grossing movie, bringing in $2.8 billion in worldwide ticket sales. Cameron and Fox have already announced they are planning two sequels, the first expected in 2014. Tuesday's news comes in response to Universal Studios' success with "Wizarding World of Harry Potter," the themed land based on the popular J.K. Rowling books and Warner Bros. movies. The addition to Universal's Orlando park has boosted attendance and merchandise sales. "Avatar" is also a fantasy film with similar broad appeal to children and adults. Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement, "Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney." Disney originally had planned to create a land of mythical creatures like dragons as part of Disney's Animal Kingdom, but those plans never materialized and the land remains undeveloped. Although aliens would seem an unlikely addition to Disney's elaborate zoo, the entertainment conglomerate said the Avatar land will emphsize the film's theme of "living in harmony with nature." Disney has embarked on an aggressive global expansion of its parks in recent years. It is expanding Hong Kong Disneyland with the addition of a Toy Story land, remaking Fantasyland in Orlando and building a 13-acre Cars Land attraction to Disney California Adventure in Anaheim. The company also is planning a new theme park in Shanghai, its first in mainland China.

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My thoughts on this.... I don't like it. I was not a fan of the movie (the only amazing thing was the 3D) and although it is the highest grossing film of all time Disney better have something amazing in store. Some people are taking this news as the "potter killer" and others (like myself) don't really see what the fuss ie about. I am like a few of the other writers I have read this morning who believe a Lord of the Rings or Star Wars land have a lot more story telling opportunities. Avatars story of respecting nature suits AK well, but without seeing what they actually have planned, I remain sceptical. Nathan

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It's a shame they are doing this. I wish they would just let pocohontas avatar go. I never liked pocahontas avatar and I really can't see it working well in a theme park. They will have to be careful if they make a ride where you ride one of the avatars, if the made the hair the handles, wasn't their hair also their genitals?

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Ok, not everyone is thrilled by this. But, Cameron has said that the first movie was just the tip of a much bigger iceberg. He's worked on the concept for over a decade, the sequel is due around 2013 and a third film about the time this park expansion is due to be finished. What he would be looking to do is something largely inspired by the world of the films, not necessarily a direct adaptation. That's what they've done with Potter over at Universal, and I'm sure this announcement is partially due to Disney thinking "why didn't we do that?" and finding another movie property that they could work with. It may have been Pocahontas with giant cat smurfs, but the setting itself is powerful and different enough to make something quite special if it's handled right - and the Imagineers are a great fit in that regard.

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Screamscape is reporting that the themed area might have a budget of up to $500 million:

That said, the budget is going to be huge… and while nothing is off the table at this point, I'm hearing that the estimated budget limit to create the world of Pandora is sitting around the $500 million mark. It's hard to imagine any kind of limits with that much money at your disposal, which is a fantastic place to begin.

In comparison, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was reported to cost about $200 million.

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