Prog rock fantasy artist Roger Dean suing James Cameron over Avatar

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Did the floating mountains and otherworldly landscapes in James Cameron’s Avatar remind you of artist Roger Dean’s fantastical paintings? Dean certainly thinks there’s more than a passing resemblance. He’s suing the director and 20th Century Fox, claiming Cameron based Pandora on Dean’s artwork.

Deadline has posted Dean’s full complaint, in which the artist alleges that Cameron substantially copied elements from Dean’s paintings in creating the world of Avatar:

The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing, and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre. The infringing portions of Avatar are so similar to Plaintiff’s Works that Defendants and others employed in the preparation of the film must have had access to the Plaintiff’s Works.


The complaint cites several of Dean’s paintings it alleges Cameron copied visual elements from, including “Floating Islands,” “Arches,” and “Pathways.” The claim is that Cameron used both Dean’s various imaginary geological features (the look and feel of his paintings, not just his floating islands) and the markings on his creatures as a reference for the world of Pandora. Dean is asking for more than $50 million in damages, as well as an injunction against Avatar sequels that might include similar visuals.

Dean isn’t the first creator to sue over Avatar. Cameron and Fox have won two previous lawsuits initiated by creators claiming copyright violations, and a suit by screenwriter Bryant Moore will likely go to trial in the next few months. But we’ve certainly noticed the similarities between Pandora’s floating islands and vibrant dragons and Dean’s artwork, and Cameron has kind of, sort of admitted that Dean might have been an inspiration.


Apropos of nothing, here is an explicit tribute to Roger Dean, courtesy of The Venture Bros.:

Fox & James Cameron Slapped With $50M ‘Avatar’ Copyright Suit By Album Cover Artist [Deadline via Bleeding Cool]