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Turning An Old Idea Into $1B+!

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James Cameron has already raked in more than $1.6 billion for Fox with "Avatar", and the cash register just keeps ringing.

The sci-fi movie just picked up the top prize at the Golden Globes, and it's on track to surpass the top-selling film of all time—"Titanic"—directed by, uh, James Cameron.

How does he do it?

One person on the Internet is suggesting, tongue-in-cheek, that Cameron just rewrote the script for Disney's "Pocahontas". See his plot summary here. In the summary, someone calling himself Matt Bateman "rewrites" the Pocahontas script from: "In 1607, a ship carrying John Smith arrives in the lush 'new world' of North America," to "In 2154, a ship carrying Jake Sully arrives in the lush 'new world' of Pandora." Notice John Smith and Jake Sully have the same initials! Ah ha! The similarities continues: Smith's greedy boss is seeking gold in the New World, Sully's greedy boss is seeking more "unobtanium" on Pandora. Smith, I mean Sully, runs into a beautiful local native woman, their cultures clash, they fall in love, he takes her side, yada yada yada. Even "Grandmother Willow" becomes "The Tree of Souls".

Whoever Bateman is, his rewrite is a hit with blogs about filmmaking. One blog says that "Like your favorite stripper, 'Avatar' looks fantastic, but the story feels cliché...We've thrown around lots of comparisons, from 'Dances With Wolves' to 'Ferngully', but none have seemed as damning as this rewrite of Disney's 'Pocahontas' from a guy on Reddit calling himself Matt Bateman."

The posting on Reddit has generated more than 1,200 comments (some of the language is a little too colorful to reprint here).

Here are three comments which caught my eye by suggesting any number of inspirations for "Avatar":

"Avatar: A young man down on his luck, through extraordinary circumstances, is cast into an exotic world that is completely foreign to him. In this world, he falls in love with a princess, who teaches him about her ways and how to live in her world. At first she is annoyed by him, but she eventually falls in love with him too. The two make love in a special place that is a symbol of her world, and they commit themselves to stay together forever.

Just then, the ship hits an iceberg...

PSYCH!

Cameron basically copies his all-time-top-grossing successful 6-act structure... both 'Avatar' and 'Titanic' each comprise two separate 3-act movies in one. The structure of the first half of each movie is virtually identical to one another."

Another comment:

"You know, the space marines were basically the same as in 'Aliens', another James Cameron flick. It could be the same universe! Aliens vs Predator vs Na'vi, anyone? I'd pay to see it in IMAX 3d."

Finally: "It was about Iraq. And Pocahontas. And The Bible?"

Perhaps it was just a sci-fi "Romeo and Juliet" meets "An Inconvenient Truth". Or "West Side Story" meets "The Abyss" meets "Star Trek".

I could go on and on and on.

Still, there is that tree thing. Name me another movie besides "Pocahontas" and "Avatar" where a tree plays such a central spiritual role? "Ents" don't count.

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