Avatar the Novel: Cameron Vowed if Pandora Made Money, ‘I’d Write a Book’

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Point out the flaws in his films, pick at his public relations snafus, but always remember this: Never bet against James Cameron.

The man who launched the Terminator franchise, who rebuilt the Titanic, who dared to make the sequel to Alien – the most brilliant sci-fi horror film ever conceived – and who brought you face to face with underwater aliens in The Abyss, made it official at a New York City gala last night that his next foray will be into publishing. He plans to write a novelization of Avatar. (Read our Avatar interview with Cameron)

“There are things you can do in books that you can’t do with films,” the director said, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report of the evening’s festivities, going on to elaborate that he is constructing a novel that will follow Avatar’s basic plot, including numerous inner monologues. “I told myself, if it made money, I’d write a book,” he said.

I’ve been about as big a fan of Avatar as you will find on this planet. I firmly believe it represents the future of filmmaking, not only in terms of must-see 3D experiences, but also in terms of creating immersive moments (rather than Transformers-like special effects crescendos). I believe than another Avatar film – prequel or sequel – will prove fruitful both financially and creatively. (Freeze-Frame: Avatar’s Deep Horizons)

But a novel? For a film that is so much about the big-screen experience? That loses so much of its luster if viewed in traditional 2D?

I have to admit, Mr. Cameron: I don’t really see the point.

If Avatar had a weak element, it was a story that was slightly too derivative and familiar; A plot line that resembled everything from Dances With Wolves to FernGully. In the movie theater, Cameron’s groundbreaking 3D techniques overshadowed this tendency to skew shallow with the story. But on the printed page, by straining the film’s story down to its rough essentials, does Cameron risk underscoring his film’s biggest flaws?

Whatever the outcome, the news is official: Avatar the novel is coming soon to a bookstore near you, sure to be chock full of prequel or sequel details that will soon inundate us ad nauseum.

Don’t bet against Cameron, true, but also don’t bet against Hollywood’s capacity to ruin a good thing.

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