$200m Avatar starts filming in Wellington

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Oscar-winning director James Cameron has arrived in Wellington in time for the world's first sneak peek at his new movie Avatar.
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The Dominion Post understands Cameron is in Wellington to start shooting scenes for the $US200 million science fiction film.

A secret Wellington location was uncovered yesterday where 80 imitation-gun-toting, camo-wearing stuntpeople and actors had gathered for days of rehearsals.

The men and women had split into pairs to learn how to provide covering fire for their partner. The manoeuvres included plenty of macho shouting and wide-legged posturing.

Cameron is shooting the film using a new 3D process and will feature a blend of live-action photography and virtual photorealistic production techniques invented by his team.

The film will also feature six computer-generated actors known as "synthespians".


Some work on the film has already been done in Los Angeles and Hawaii.

Peter Jackson's Weta Digital is supervising the special effects, and 31 days of additional live photography will be carried out on Weta's soundstages. The cast includes Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Zoe Saldana and Michelle Rodriguez.

The film, written by Cameron, is about an ex-marine who finds himself amid hostilities on an alien planet.

As an Avatar - a human mind in an alien body - he falls in love with a local girl and joins resistance fighters in a battle for survival.

Cameron's blockbuster, Titanic, holds the world box office record for a film, at $US1.8 billion. It won 11 Oscars in 1998, a record it shares with Ben-Hur and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The Dominion Post