Delgo Creators Hint at Lawsuit Over Avatar Connection


The phrase "Delgo vs. Avatar" has taken on multiple meanings over the last week, from the uncanny comparisons between Hollywood's biggest animated flop and its most ambitious film ever, to my inner masochist praying for a big-screen, Alien vs. Predator-style showdown between the two somewhere down the line. But I much prefer the latest interpretation, with Delgo's downmarket animation studio alluding to legal action against James Cameron and Fox.

A press release headlined "James Cameron's Big Budget Avatar Compared to Animated Indie Film Produced by Fathom Studios" arrived last night at Movieline HQ, laying out a number of Web sites and critics who had pointed out visual parallels, thematic overlaps, and other odd similarities between the films. Apparently not understanding that Avatar's connections to Delgo were in fact a criticism of Cameron's high-tech blockbuster, the Fathom gang commenced saber-rattling anyway:

A spokesperson for the studio said, "From what we have seen, we are amazed by the visual similarities between the two films and we are reviewing what legal options may be available to us."

Delgo is an independent film that took over a decade from conception to release. The initial proof-of-concept was available on in 1998 with work-in-progress from the feature production accessible via the website's Digital Dailies since 2000. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Avatar began production in 2006 after a rewrite of the script.

Look, I was as eager as the rest of you to let this go after a few funny comparisons. But now, considering the utterly misconceived failure that Delgo was, I am all about seeing how Fathom would prove its veiled allegations in court.

I want to meet the crackpot copyright lawyer who would take Fox on. I want to see Freddie Prinze Jr. on the witness stand, pointing to Sam Worthington when asked if he saw the man who manipulated his character as a giant blue Nav'i, then breaking down under withering cross-examination ("Isn't it true, Mr. Prinze, that you scalped no fewer than 10 tickets to 'Avatar Day' previews at the Bridge? Isn't it?") while Jennifer Love Hewitt's attorney strikes a deal in the hallway outside. I want to see Cameron show up spitting mad, wearing military fatigues that probably cost more than Delgo earned per screen. And ultimately, of course, I want to be a fly on the wall at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Delgo v. Avatar lands after several years of litigation, and where Chief Justice John Roberts dispatches one clerk to research precedent and another to research his query, "Delgo? What the fuck is Delgo?"

Anyway, it's not like Fox isn't loving this; their home-video side is currently distributing Delgo on DVD, which is probably as popular now as it will ever be. Here's hoping they continue to take advantage of it; the exploitation game is surely big enough for both parties.

· James Cameron's Big Budget 'Avatar' ...[PR Newswire]


  • Furious D says:

    Talking points in Fox's defense case:
    Nav'i: Look like blue cat/Robert Pattinson hybrids with clean hair.
    Delgo: Looks like a monkey with 3rd degree burns.
    Fox can't steal from a movie that they, or anyone else, haven't seen.

  • Blackcapricorn says:

    As an entertainment lawyer all I can say is "game on!". Can't wait for this one to be filed in court.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    In hindsight, maybe James Cameron shouldn't have had the Avatar website built by Delgo Website Construction, Inc.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    It is hard to imagine James Cameron (suffering from creative block) trolling the web for ideas only to then stumble across the Delgo website and think to himself- "BINGO! If I am going to spend $400 million this is what I want to spend it on!!"

  • Old No.7 says:

    Didn't Cameron already have the script treatment done when he was finishing Titanic? Wasn't that 1996?
    Fucking lawyers.

  • AvatardVsDelgoloid says:

    I think Cameron was sued by Harlan Ellison after Terminator (Demon with a Glass hand?). Don't know if Hienlien or his estate went after him for Aliens borrowings from Starship Troopers. The Abyss was very similar to Crichton's Sphere with a dose of CE3rdK and I'm pretty sure the whole idea of an unsinkable ship being taken down by an iceberg wasn't original either.
    JC isn't above lifting ideas from other creators, but that said - both Delgo and Avatar are both fishing from a very shallow well of generic SF/Fantasy ideas. That's one of the problems with the absolute creative freedom afforded by CGI, it just reveals how bland and samey a lot of story ideas really are.
    For what it's worth, that floating island image from Delgo looks like The Never Ending Story after The Nothing has rolled through town anyway, while the floating islands in the Avatar trailer just look like every generic floating island image you see in countless online concept art portfolios.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Instead of spending their money on attorney's, they should save it for "Delgo 2: This Time it's Personal".

  • Tai Nguyen says:

    Just curious what in Aliens could possibly be considered stolen from Starship Troopers. The premises are vastly different, as are the characters and even the aliens themselves.

  • From AvatardVsDelgoloid says:

    Many similarities - look into it. Cameron himself said upon hearing about Verhoeven's film adaptation: "Why bother? I already made it."
    Why do you think the grunts keep calling the Aliens "Bugs"?

  • Aleric says:

    I think Cameron has more to worry about from "Battle For Terra" as well.

  • EmeraldAl says:

    The audience's reaction was stolen from MST3K.

  • shroud says:

    avatar is a rip off of a shrek rip off?

  • [...] “Avatar,” but surprisingly features many similarities with the $2.7 billion grosser (a lawsuit was even considered). “Delgo” opened with just $511,920 from 2,160 theater and had a per-screen average of [...]