James Cameron Says Avatar Came to Him in a Dream, and His Drawings Stopped ‘Tinfoil Freaks’ Suing Him

The inspiration for some of the biggest movie franchises have come from books, or personal experiences. When it comes to Avatar, James Cameron says it all came to him in a dream as a teenager, and sketches he made soon after have helped him avoid a lot of lawsuits. With Avatar: The Way of Water heading into cinemas soon, Cameron spoke to GQ about the franchise, including how the original conception of the world of Avatar came to him while he was sleeping.

“I woke up after dreaming of this kind of bioluminescent forest with these trees that look kind of like fibre-optic lamps and this river that was glowing bioluminescent particles and kind of purple moss on the ground that lit up when you walked on it. And these kinds of lizards that didn’t look like much until they took off. And then they turned into these rotating fans, kind of like living Frisbees, and they come down and land on something.”

Of course, the process of bringing Avatar to life took many years. After his original dream as a 19-year-old, Cameron drew some sketches. As it turned out, those sketches turned out be his only line of defense against what he called “freaks with tinfoil under their wigs” who attempted to claim Avatar as their idea. He continued:


“It was all in the dream. I woke up super excited and I actually drew it. So I actually have a drawing. It saved us from about 10 lawsuits. Any successful film, there’s always some freak with tinfoil under the wig that thinks you’ve beamed the idea out of their head. And it turned out were 10 or 11 of them. And so I pointed at this drawing I did when I was 19, when I was going to Fullerton Junior College, and said, ‘See this? See these growing trees? See this growing lizard that spins around, that’s orange? See the purple moss?’ And everybody went away.”

Why Are The Avatar Movies So Long?

20th Century Studios

James Cameron is well known for making movies that test the bladders of moviegoers, and his Avatar movies are certainly no exception. Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the longest movies ever made by Hollywood, but Cameron has already defended the movie’s runtime, saying it is necessary to tell the story he needed to. He previously said:

“The goal is to tell an extremely compelling story on an emotional basis. I would say the emphasis in the new film is more on character, more on story, more on relationships, more on emotion. We didn’t spend as much time on relationship and emotion in the first film as we do in the second film, and it’s a longer film, because there’s more characters to service. There’s more story to service.”

Avatar: The Way of Water comes with a lot of expectation and a huge mountain to climb if it is going to be a financial success. With the sequel reportedly needing to become at least the fifth biggest movie of all time to break even, it could be a nervous time for some studios. However, with the movie already looking to produce one of the biggest opening weekends of the year, it doesn’t seem like there will be too much to worry about it that respect.