Fox Hedges James Cameron’s Avatar, Price Tag Nears $500 Million

James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar is terrifying for studio executives, and not just because Cameron himself designed the thanator, the scariest monster in the film which makes the queen from Alien look like a bunny rabbit. Executives at 20th Century Fox and its parent company News Corp. are scared because the movie has no big-name stars and is becoming one of the most expensive feature films ever made. Well, at least they were scared until they hedged hard: turning over a significant part of the films production costs, which could climb as high as $500 million, to other companies and putting Cameron under a contract that holds his share of the film’s income until the studio and others have been paid back.

There’s also one “super secret” hedge:

Taking no chances, Fox is backing up Mr. Cameron’s movie with what an executive recently called the studio’s “secret weapon.” That would be “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel,” set to open just a week after studio marketers get “Avatar” into theaters. It is the relatively safe sequel to a chipper family comedy that cost about $60 million and took in $217 million at the domestic box office when it was released two years ago.

All of these hedges will most likely just spread out the wealth because James Cameron, the man behind Titanic’s $1.8 billion box office, is money in the bank. That said, the thanator is going to be really scary. It has two sets of jaws!

Eyepopping, in Many Ways [NYT]

Related: The Truth About James Cameron

Fox Hedges James Cameron’s Avatar, Price Tag Nears $500 Million