'Avatar': Backlash Builds Against Film and Filmmaker James Cameron

Russians, conservatives, blacks, disabled swipe at "Avatar," James Cameron.

ByABC News
January 17, 2010, 6:14 PM

Jan. 19, 2010— -- When you have the second-highest grossing movie of all time, you can expect a few potshots.

These days, folks are standing in line to take a swipe at James Cameron and his movie "Avatar."

While the film was busy breaking box-office records -- passing $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide in 17 days, putting it just behind Cameron's other blockbuster, "Titanic" -- a backlash aimed at the writer-director and the film has been building. The criticism comes from every corner: conservatives, people of color, paraplegics and atheists.

"I don't think it's a need to take the movie down," Greg Kilday, the Hollywood Reporter's film editor, said. "At this point, there's not much anyone can do to stop its success."

At Sunday's Golden Globes, the film took home two of the biggest prizes, best picture and best director for Cameron. And it's poised to win big at the Academy Awards in March.

Indeed, it's the film's success on which, Kilday says, different interest groups are hoping to capitalize. "'Avatar is a big mother whale," he said, "and a lot of smaller fish are swimming along in its wake hoping to pick up some of its momentum."

Neither Cameron nor Fox, the film's distributor, responded to multiple requests for comment from ABCNews.com.

Kilday says he believes Cameron is unfazed by all the back talk. "This time around he has the luxury of perspective," he said. "He went through the whole ramp up of to the release of 'Titanic' and people saying it was going to be an enormous flop. He came out on other side the most successful commercial film director."

The latest complaint lodged against the director is that he ripped off a series of Soviet sci-fi novels.

A Russian journalist wrote that Cameron copied elements in "Avatar" from brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's 10-book "Noon Universe" series. Most notably, the name of the lush, green planet where the film takes place, Pandora, is the same name of the utopian setting that the Strugatskys wrote about.

Both "Avatar" and "Noon Universe" take place in the 22nd century. Then, there's the name of the humanoids inhabiting Pandora: in "Avatar," they're the Na'vi; in "Noon Universe," the Nave.

"Cameron steals from the Strugatskys generously, using not only the planet Pandora which was invented by them," author and journalist Dmitry Bykov wrote in Russia's independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper. "The Na'vi are unequivocally reminiscent of the Nave."