The movie satisfies the requirement that ‘the producer must be Canadian,’ but fails a complex checklist of other metrics by which Ottawa officially denotes a program’s Canadianness
Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.
By all indications, Avatar: The Way of Water is well on its way to ranking as the most explosively successful movie in cinematic history. As of Sunday, the film has pulled in US$1.4 billion worldwide, meaning it has already hit 14th place on the list of highest ticket sellers in movie history.
You are reading: Why Avatar — a movie conceived, written, directed by a Canadian — is not considered Canadian by Ottawa
It’s a film that was conceived, written, directed, produced and edited by a Canadian, James Cameron. It’s also shot using IMAX technology, which is a Canadian invention.
And yet, in the view of the Canadian government, Avatar: The Way of Water doesn’t even come close to qualifying as a piece of official “Canadian content.”
This is set to become particularly relevant given that the Senate is close to passing Bill C-11, a far-reaching piece of legislation that would impose mandatory Canadian content requirements on much of the Canadian internet.
Readmore : New ‘Lord of the Rings’ films in the works at Warner Bros.
Streaming platforms such as Netflix and Disney+ would be forced to tweak their algorithms to artificially give greater exposure to Canadian films and TV shows. Conversely, any “non-Canadian” content would be punished by getting bumped to the back of users’ recommendations — or hidden entirely.
Avatar only meets one of the four criteria by which the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) officially certifies a film as “Canadian content.”
The movie satisfies the requirement that “the producer must be Canadian,” but fails a complex checklist of other metrics by which Ottawa officially denotes a program’s Canadianness.
Among other things, one of the lead actors must have a Canadian passport and 75 per cent of the film’s production expenses must be put up by Canadians. Cameron would also have needed to track down a Canadian citizen to act as the film’s composer, production designer or director of photography.
This includes virtually the entire oeuvre of Canadian actors such as Jim Carrey, Mike Myers or Ryan Reynolds. Even Reynolds’ decision to shoot much of Deadpool 2 in Vancouver didn’t get it past CRTC scrutiny.
Readmore : Woman files $5M lawsuit accusing Mike Tyson of rape in early ’90s
The same treatment was given to Pixar’s Turning Red. Despite taking place in Canada, being written by a Canadian and starring a heavily Canadian cast, the movies’ largely foreign financing is what lost it Cancon status.
Conversely, plenty of films with no Canadian plotlines or characters whatsoever technically qualify as Canadian content. This includes the 2014 documentary Monsoon, which profiles a weather phenomenon that doesn’t occur in Canada, but gets the Cancon designation anyway thanks to the composition of its funding and production staff.
Born in Kapuskasing, Ont., Cameron spent much of his childhood in Chippawa, just outside Niagara Falls.
Among Canadians who relocate to Hollywood, it’s common to secure joint U.S. citizenship or abandon their Canadian passport altogether.
Avatar: The Way of Water is poised to be the third time that the Canadian filmmaker has written, produced and directed a movie that went on to become the highest-grossing in history. Cameron first did it with 1997’s Titanic and then again with the original Avatar, released in 2009.