Cameron's 'Avatar' launches in London

Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington attend gala premiere

LONDON -- James Cameron's sci-fi extravaganza "Avatar" was getting its public premiere in London on Thursday, and the movie industry is watching intently to see whether it will match the success of the director's blockbuster "Titanic."

Stars Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana joined the crowds in London's Leicester Square before Thursday's gala screening at two massive side-by-side movie theaters.

The 3D epic about humans taking extraterrestrial form as they explore a distant world is reportedly one of the most expensive movies ever made, with a price tag well in excess of the $200 million spent to make "Titanic." It uses cutting-edge digital technology to create dizzying special effects.

Cameron said the movie, which is set in the future on an alien planet being pillaged by humans for natural resources, deals with how indigenous people are treated by newcomers.

"It's a way of connecting a thread through history. I take that thread further back to the 16th and 17th centuries and to how the Europeans pretty much took over South and Central America and displaced and marginalized the indigenous peoples there," he said.

"There's just this long, wonderful history of the human race written in blood going back as far as we can remember, where we have this tendency to just take what we want without asking," he said.

Weaver said she didn't consider the film a sci-fi movie. "I consider it an old-fashioned, epic swashbuckling romance," she said.

Cameron conceived the story for "Avatar" in 1995 then waited a decade for technology to catch up so he could film it. The film mixes live action and computer animation to create an eye-poppingly vivid alien world.

The industry is watching closely to see how audiences respond to Cameron's first narrative film since 1997's "Titanic," which won 11 Academy Awards and has taken $1.8 billion worldwide at the boxoffice.

"Avatar" opens worldwide on Dec. 18.

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