With worldwide box-office returns of almost $2.8bn, James Cameron's Avatar is by some distance the highest-grossing film of all time, which may explain why so many people are keen to take credit for it.
In the latest lawsuit against the director and his production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, since the sci-fi epic's release in 2009, visual effects designer Gerald Morawski alleges he pitched a movie to Mr Cameron in 1991, after the director bought some of his artwork. Mr Morawski says his idea – entitled Guardians of Eden – featured an indigenous tribe living at one with the rainforest and their struggle against the evil mining corporation intent on destroying their planet. The hero was a war veteran with a debilitating illness, healed by the rainforest's power.
Mr Cameron has responded by filing a 45-page sworn declaration, recounting the details of how he'd been personally developing the idea for Avatar ever since he was a boy. The document, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, is a potted memoir of what the director calls his "most personal film".
Growing up in Ontario, Canada, writes Mr Cameron, he had ambitions of becoming a scientist. He "made collections of leaves and flowers", and formed a nature club with other children in his neighbourhood. Later, he became president of his high school science club. His favourite boyhood movie was 2001: A Space Odyssey, and he was an avid reader of sci-fi stories by the likes of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke and Ray Bradbury.
As a teenager, Cameron made a drawing that he still owns, entitled "Spring on Planet Flora". The landscape depicted is essentially the same in concept and detail to the alien jungle landscape on Pandora, on which much of the action in Avatar takes place."
Cameron was inspired to make a US Marine his Avatar hero after his brother fought in Iraq: "Thankfully he returned in one piece, but my anxiety over his wellbeing left an indelible impression…"Reuse content