After the tragic passing of James Horner in 2015 we wondered who would, who could, replace his work on the Avatar sequels. We now have official word from Jon Landau that it will be Simon Franglen. If you aren’t familiar with Simon’s work or are worried how he will stack up to the legendary music Horner produced, look no further than Pandora-The World of Avatar. Simon co-composed the soundtrack that plays in the park with James Horner, and it is incredible. He may not be the flashy name of the most well known music composers some fans hoped for, but I truly think Simon is the best choice for Avatar, I am really excited to have this officially confirmed.
Check out his work on the Pandora soundtrack for yourself-
Simon worked closely with James Horner on Titanic before Avatar, this is what he had to say about the first time they met, which was to work on titanic.
He asked me to come work with him on Titanic because I had a skill set that included the way I used synthesizers at the time — it was somewhat different than most people. He had a longtime collaborator, Ian Underwood, who is one of the heroes of film music as far as I’m concerned, who had been his synthesist. I feel I brought in a slightly different feel — coming from pop music, it had a record-based edge to it.
The next time was when he asked me to come see five minutes of another film … which was Avatar. I looked at that and decided it was going to change the world and I ought to be involved. And from that point on we just worked very closely. In recent years I became his score producer and arranger and that was an evolution that happened because we had a really good working relationship and became really close friends. We had a great team as well. Teams are underrated in music and I think in this case there was an incredible set of people who enjoyed each others’ company and James was crucial to that.
I trust Jon Landau and James Cameron’s vision for Avatar, by selecting someone who has worked with closely with James Horner on multiple projects including the first Avatar I think we can feel assured we are in good hands moving forward. Congratulations to Simon Franglen, I can’t wait to hear what you come up with when we revisit Pandora in 472 days.
Back in May of 2019 a new Avatar book showed up on Amazon titled, The World of Avatar: A Visual Celebration. At that time it was slated to be released October 1st, 2019. That was later pushed back to October of 2020 due to an Avatar 2 delay. The book has now been updated on Amazon with a current release date of March 1st, 2022. It also has been updated with a three new photos of the books pages, if you’d like to see the original photos and book summary posted on Amazon, check out our previous post from 2019- The World of Avatar: A Visual Celebration
The new book summary has also changed ever so slightly from the previous listing-
Celebrate the first decade of James Cameron’s Avatar and the beginnings of an epic cinematic journey.
Delve into the majestic world of Pandora and discover the incredible wealth of creativity that led this story to become the highest-grossing film of all time and the winner of three Academy Awards.
The World of Avatar celebrates, explores and explains the spectacular world of Pandora – its extraordinary geology, flora and fauna, and the customs and beliefs of its people, the mysterious Na’vi. The book uniquely covers key content from all aspects of the burgeoning franchise. It combines original movie stills and artwork with stunning imagery from Cirque du Soleil’s Avatar-inspired show Toruk: The First Flight; Disney World’s Pandora–The World of Avatar; and the Dark Horse comic book series Tsu’tey’s Path.
Concluding with a preview of a new Avatar era, this rich, in-world guide will fuel excitement for the long-awaited release of Avatar 2 in December 2022.
As it did back in 2019, this book looks like it will be filled with Avatar goodness, I can’t wait to learn more about all things Avatar. I highly suggest pre-ordering now, the price was originally $19.99 back in 2019 but has now gone up to $21.99. You can pre-order from Amazon here- The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration
The Spector Creative YouTube channel run by Scott “ToyGuru” Neitlich, breaks down the Avatar toy line created by Mattel. Scott worked for Mattel for several years and was the brand manager over the DC Universe line, MOTU Classics, and others during his time at Mattel. I’ve heard Scott on various podcasts over the years and always find him insightful and interesting, and I am a fan of his work. From a customer and collector stand point I respectfully disagree with some of his points in his video, however I still think it’s interesting and very much worth a watch.
The first thing Scott mentions is that Avatar didn’t leave a large cultural impact. This is something we’ve all heard and is the general narrative about Avatar. I don’t really buy into that and here is why. Avatar released without a lot of collectibles compared to most sci-fi type blockbusters, see Star Wars for the other end of the spectrum. However that never seemed to be the focus for the brand, the focus was a movie that needed to be seen in theaters to fully appreciate it. They excelled with that singular focus and became the highest grossing movie. After Avatar released and the popularity grew the movie proved it had real staying power at the box office. As a fan I noticed the desire from others to own a piece of the movie by way of collectibles. Over the next couple of years the higher end market tried to capitalize on that, there was a Hot Toys Jake released, Sideshow Collectibles released Colonel Quaritch, Jake Sully, and 3 different Neytiri statue offerings. Before the movie opened Avatar had a video game for the PC and consoles for that generation, and had the Mattel action figure line. For a brand new property that no one knew exactly what to expect I think this was more than adequate for major consumer goods. You don’t want to flood the market and also have the movie flop. To further my point of Avatar actually having a lasting impact, Avatar inspired a succesful Cirque du Soleil show, their own land at Animal Kingdom, a mobile game, and most recently comic books. Avatar has left quite an impact, but for whatever reason that impact seems to be brushed aside because the fans of the movie may not be the biggest consumer of collectibles.
I agree with Scott, Avatar didn’t dominate the toy aisle or have 6 feet of space like Star Wars does, but Star Wars is very established, has lots of collectors, and no one knew how well Avatar would do before the movie released. My small town has 3 Wal-Marts, one Target, and at the time one Toys R Us. The only store that carried Avatar was Toys R Us and I never found the Avatar/Na’vi figures there, they normally had some of the various humans and some creatures or vehicles. So as a huge fan of the movie who wanted to collect this line I was left with the option of eBay or Amazon. Judging from the prices on eBay I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t get my hands on these figures. The 7″ Movie Masters Neytiri was $100 for awhile. So there absolutely was demand for these figures from this movie. I have no idea how long that high demand lasted or if they flew off the shelves everywhere, but from what I saw as a fan it was in high demand for a decent amount of time. However as with anything, once the movie has been out a few months, the hype dies down and people move on. Without comics, tv shows, and other new media to keep the story lines of those characters going, peoples interest moves to other things. It’s hard to compare 1977 to 2021 but Star Wars didn’t have any figures when it first released, but they eventually came and Star Wars has been great about getting additional media out there to keep people spending money. I’ve never been under the impression that was the Avatar goal, as I mentioned earlier, the true goal was to get people in the theater to watch the movie.
The line had two main scales for the figures, it can be a bit confusing, however at the same time it worked pretty well. There were the smaller figures that made up the vast majority of the line. Humans were 3.75″ and the Na’vi/Avatars were 4.25″. The humans and Na’vi/Avatars didn’t work together well in this scale with an average human male being around 6′, and a Na’vi/Avatar being around 10′. By having both the humans and Na’vi/Avatar figures this size they were able to make accurate sized creatures and vehicles for them. Creatures and vehicles would have been very cost prohibitive at the larger scale. There was also the 7″ scale figures, called the Movie Masters line. They consisted of a few versions of Jake, Neytiri, and Colonel Quaritch. The Colonel didn’t scale with the larger Na’vi as he was about 6.25″, but it gave you a chance to have a larger sized figure. The 7″ Na’vi/Avatars scale almost perfectly with the 3.75″ humans and their vehicles. Further proof of this lies in the fact that in 2010 Mattel released an SDCC set called “The Final Battle,” includind in it a 3.75″ Colonel Quaritch with Amp Suit, and a 7″ Jake Sully. This set recreated the finale fight between Jake and Quaritch at the end of Avatar.
Scott also mentions the iTag stands the figures came with, and I can only speak for myself on this. Back in 2009/2010 my internet wasn’t great, it had horrible slow speeds. I wasn’t able to even use the iTag feature because the internet just wasn’t up to it. I’ve seen online videos of how it was supposed to work but I can only imagine how many other people couldn’t ever get their iTags to work due to internet speeds. So personally that’s something I’ve never factored into the line. From what I’ve seen it looked like it could have been a really fun feature.
In regards to figures selling better if the good guys are humans and the bad guys the aliens, I believe Scott and trust the logic behind it. Maybe that helped keep sales down below what Mattel wanted from the line. I’d love to see some actual numbers on how the line did in sales, because that’s something I’ve never seen. Also touching on the role play items, maybe role play items for kids would have encouraged further buying of the main line, but I was never under the impression the action figure line did poorly. To me it looked like it was out, sold with the hype of the movie and then went away, as most all movie lines do. Even with the later success of Avatar having a Cirque show, and a land within Disney, I never expected another mass retail release until we get within a couple months of Avatar 2. The merchandise at Pandora: The World of Avatar seems to sell very well from what I’ve seen, again I don’t have sales numbers on that, but if you visit you’ll feel the same way. On the secondary market Avatar figures prices are really solid, and have only risen over the years as the sequels get closer to releasing.
I have a lot of respect for Scott and his toy knowledge and these are just my thoughts and counterpoints to his feelings on the line. As a collector of this line and someone who has collected the entire line, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge of how it was early on and in the secondary market since.
This is an old behind the scenes video I came across again recently. I love footage like this that shows some of what was happening behind the camera, and even scenes that never made it to the final cut. It’s also enjoyable seeing James Cameron and others actively working behind the camera. Even if you’ve seen it before give it another watch.
We are now 522 days away from the release of Avatar 2…
The Youtube channel FilmIsNow posted three Avatar behind the scenes videos this past week. I’ve seen a lot of the footage but there was some footage was new to me. I love anything “behind the scenes and making of” that involves Avatar, so I wanted to share.
This is a letter that was shared by James Cameron back on July 23, 2020. I never posted or spoke on it at the time, what else was there to say? We were in the middle of a pandemic with no end in sight, the sequels were going to suffer yet another delay, and it was a frightening time for many. Almost a year later as I look back I can say I’m glad this delay happened. I want James Cameron, Jon Landau, and the rest of the crew working on these sequels to be able to make them the best possible version that they can. I also want them to be safe, and at that time there were so many questions and very few answers in regards to Covid. I’m thankful with time they were able to overcome and complete the live action and motion capture to Avatar 2 and 3. It’s also nice to see improvements in the fight against Covid-19 with mass roll outs of vaccines. I realize there are places and countries still struggling mightily with the virus and many people have been deeply affected. My heart and my prayers go out to those people affected. I hope by December 16, 2022 that Covid will be a thing of the past and we can gather together in our theaters and watch Avatar 2 in celebration of Avatars arrival and Covid-19s departure.
Yesterday Avatar.com, the official website for Avatar, released a stunning new update. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. You can do a bit of everything on there now, from learning Na’vi words from Paul Frommer himself, to planning a trip to Pandora: The World of Avatar, to exploring the fan communities of Learn Na’vi, Kelutral, and Avatar Meet. It’s becoming a truly centralized location of where fans can go to check out everything going on in the Avatar universe, I think it’s fantastic! It’s great seeing the Avatar franchise move closer to relaunching itself in the build up to Avatar 2.
Don’t forget you can follow Avatar at their official channels on-
There is some really exciting news for those of us who have been patiently waiting for Avatar: Pandora Rising to launch. This week a new update was sent to current users and it included some very interesting details. The update shared that on Wednesday June 9th, the current game will be removed from app stores for new players, and the ability to make in-app purchases will be disabled. Following that the next phase of development will be implemented, making some major changes to the game. There is a plan to bring the current players into the next phase of the game, although it’s not specific if you will be able to keep your current progress or not. It is highly encouraged you link your Facebook account and take a picture of your PID in your player profile as a precaution against losing progress. That leads me to believe you will keep your current progress when the game gets it’s official global launch. It sounds like we are getting really close to a point where everyone will soon be able to play Pandora Rising together.
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) released an article today I found very interesting. First of all I’ve been seeing lots of comments about how Avatar was only released again in China to recapture the box office throne, that is false. THR had this to say about the re-release:
James Cameron only found out a few days beforehand that Avatar would be rereleased March 12 in China in a move that pushed his 2009 science-fiction epic back into the highest-grossing-film-of-all-time slot, not adjusted for inflation.
The China Film Board first reached out to Cameron and Disney in March 2020 about the possibility of rereleasing some older films as a way of encouraging theatergoing in a period when new product from both Hollywood and Chinese studios has been scant. Cameron offered Avatar and Titanic, both of which had been produced by Fox and are now owned by Disney.
While I had previously read about the plan to release Avatar last year, it’s very interesting there was almost no advance notice of the film be re-released by even James Cameron himself. It also speaks volumes how Avatar, a film that is over 11 years old, can go to the front of the worlds largest movie market with no promotion and be the countries #1 film it’s first weekend.
“Sure, it’s nice to reclaim the No. 1 spot, but what the rerelease signifies is that a 12-year-old title with no advance notice could open at No. 1 in the marketplace.”
Jon said it best, this bodes very well for the future of the Avatar sequels, and says a lot about the power on the first movie over a decade after it’s release. The movie is amazing in 3D and I’m glad the people of China are getting a chance to see it in all it’s glory once again.
The official numbers in so far is Avatar made 23.9 million from Fri-Mon, with no new numbers being available past Monday. 6.2 million were from IMAX theaters, and all showings were in 3D. I am very excited to see what Avatar can do this coming weekend, and happy to share some information to clear up some misconceptions about it’s return to Chinese theaters.
As expected with the Friday China re-release, Avatar has retaken its crown of highest grossing movie of all time. Currently the unofficial box office numbers have Avatar with $2,798,579,794 and Endgame with $2,797,501,328. Avatar is currently projected to make $58 million off this reissue alone and is expected to release to 20,000 3D screens, of which 700 are IMAX. When Avatar first launched in China in 2009 there were only 14 IMAX screens in the entire country.
“I’m honored that ‘Avatar’ is a part of that reemergence of the cinema experience in China. We got to get the rest of the world caught up as well.”