James Cameron compares ‘Avatar’ to ‘Lord of the Rings,’ except he had to ‘create the frickin’ novels’

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It would be one of the largest understatements imaginable to say that James Cameron has poured everything he’s got into the Avatar franchise, and not just because he’ll likely be spending the remainder of his career on Pandora given that we could be getting another four sequels after The Way of Water lands in December.

Not only has the filmmaker pioneered groundbreaking performance capture technology twice over for the first and second installments, but he also created an entire language for the Na’vi from the ground up, which has since been expanded to include a bespoke form of sign language.

That’s without even mentioning the history, lore, mythology, topography, and various other minutiae he’s helped develop for the sci-fi series, which could definitely be described as Tolkien-esque. With that in mind, Cameron comparing Avatar to The Lord of the Rings in an interview with Empire makes total sense, even if he had to create the source material himself before bringing it to the screen.

“What I said to the Fox regime at the time was, ‘I’ll do it, but we’ve got to play a larger game here. I don’t want to just do a movie and do a movie and do a movie. I want to tell a bigger story’. I said, ‘Imagine a series of novels like The Lord Of The Rings existed, and we’re adapting them.’ Now, that was great in theory, but then I had to go create the frickin’ novels from which to adapt it.”

While that hardly sounds like an easy or particularly enviable task, we’ll finally be finding out if the fruits of Cameron’s labors have been worth it in the end when Avatar: The Way of Water comes to theaters, where the only person to have directed the highest-grossing film in history twice over will be looking to complete a remarkable hat-trick.