James Cameron hits an Avatar delay

His latest epic slice o’ sci won’t hit until 2009

If any other director made us wait so long for their next film, we’d label them a slacker and make with the pointing and the laughing. But this is James Cameron, and he’d probably hit us. So we’ll restrict our laughter to Terrence Malick and just report that Jim has decided to delay the release of Avatar.

Chatting to The Independent, JC gassed about the status of his latest, an ambitious little film he’s been dreaming up for years that finds a paraplegic future war veteran pressed back into service to help out on a battle-torn alien planet.

"Avatar is a very ambitious sci-fi movie,” says Cameron. "It's a futuristic tale set on a planet 200 years hence. It's an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience. It aspires to a mythic level of storytelling. The film requires me to create an entirely new alien culture and language, and for that I want 'photo-real' CGI characters. Sophisticated enough performance-capture animation technology is only coming on stream now. I've spent the last 14 months doing performance-capture work - the actor performs the character and then we animate it.”

With such heavy tech needed to bring the film to life, that now means that the film won’t arrive until a year later than the promised 2008 release date… "I always want to find something mentally engaging. I'll spend many months completing the special effects on Avatar, and it will not be released until the summer of 2009. It's quite a challenge - and for that reason, I embrace it."

That sound you hear is studio executives nervously checking their wallets.