James Cameron makes good, and sometimes even great, movies. Terminator 2 was groundbreaking, special effects wise, and Avatar also succeeded in setting a high tide mark when it comes to computer generated wizardry. But does Avatar help, or hurt, the Disney brand? Let's face it: Disney has Star Wars and a growing vault of intellectual property that would make even the James Cameron film collection look puny. Plus there is one big controversy that is hard to get around: smoking was prominently featured in Avatar . . . even though the film is set in the future. Sigourney Weaver's character complains, "Where’s my damn cigarette?"
More than just allowing smoking in the film (Disney doesn't do this), the character in question is a hero, cigarettes are viewed as an acceptable way to relieve stress and are sexy to a degree.
On top of the smoking in the film (something which Disney no longer portrays in their films due to the fact that kids, obviously, frequently watch Disney films with great frequency and that smoking in films glamorize smoking and lead to more addictions), there is the macho fight scenes between the aliens and the military. Really, due to the smoking and violence, Avatar should have been rated R.
But it wasn't.
What are parents supposed to say when they take their kids to Animal Kingdom, experience Avatarland . . . and their 10 year old son demands to see Avatar? What if Avatar dulls his wariness about smoking and encourages him to seek out other violent films?
Avatar is similar to a Star Trek episode, in terms of the Sci-Fi, but with grittier characters and lots more action. Does anybody remember the name of the hero? Do little kids play out the Avatar story like Star Wars? Or is Avatar just a violent video game with 17+ material packaged as a movie?
It is obvious why Disney will try to add the possessive, "James Cameron's Avatar: World of Pandora" to the new land's name, to distance itself from a controversial film, while benefitting behind the scenes.
Disney dumped Merida's new image due to fan protest, if you've had a relative die of lung cancer due to smoking (I have) then I would hope that you would write letters to Disney to scrap Avatarland as they are only setting themselves up for a long struggle. Fans were luke warm to the idea to begin with, and companies that pride themselves on doing what is right for kids shouldn't touch this property.