Avatar: James Cameron rejects plagiarism claims
James Cameron, the director of the 3D blockbuster Avatar, has been accused of ripping off ideas from two popular Soviet Union science fiction writers.
The film, which has grossed more than £800m (€898m) worldwide, is similar to parts of The World of Noon, or Noon Universe, a series of 10 bestselling fantasy novels written by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky in the mid-1960s.
Pandora, which features in Avatar as a green and lushly forested planet, also appears in the books. The film and the books both take place in the 22nd century.
On top of that both Pandoras are home to a similarly named bunch of humanoids - the Na'vi in Cameron's epic, and the Nave in the Strugatsky novels.
Arkady Strugatsky died in 1991. Last week Boris, 76, the surviving brother, said he had not yet seen Avatar, although he appeared to shrug off suggestions of similarities between Avatar and his Noon Universe. He also denied reports that he was accusing Cameron of plagiarism.
Writing on Monday in Russia's leading liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the author and journalist Dmitry Bykov pointed out there were a lot of similarities.
"The Na'vi are unequivocally reminiscent of the [Strugatskys'] Nave," wrote Mr Bykov. Cameron has insisted that the idea for Avatar is an original one. He wrote an 80-page screenplay for the film back in 1994.
The brothers' work sold millions of copies, with many reading their fantasies as a thinly disguised satire on the KGB communist system.
20th Century Fox, Avatar’s UK distributors, declined to comment. The film was released last month and has already become the second most successful film of all time in terms of box office taking, behind Titanic.
Some critics have accused the film of racism, saying the story of a white US Marine who saves an alien race perpetuates the "white Messiah fable" and suggests that non-whites are primitives incapable of helping themselves.