James Cameron included an elaborate dolphin show during the Japanese premiere of Avatar 2: The Way of Water. And people are both shocked and disgusted.
The Oscar-winning director hosted the premiere alongside stars Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Sam Worthington. To kick off the festivities, he sat for a live display that showed the dolphins and trainers performing to Avatar 2’s score with clips from the film playing in the backdrop.
Yahoo News reported that Cameron was recorded saying “I’m sure everybody asked their permission to be in the show. I love these animals, I love their intelligence.”
People were initially in literal disbelief over the spectacle. Multiple sources said that they first thought the animals were the result of some special effects “movie magic.” James Cameron is a vegan and an animal rights activist. And Avatar actually preaches against concepts like a trained dolphin show.
Activists are Calling on James Cameron to Apologize for the Live Dolphin Spectacle
So once fans realized that there were real, live dolphins in the tank, they were livid.
“To see James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver, and Sam Worthington sitting there applauding was shocking,” Lisa Lange, senior vice president of communications for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told Yahoo News. “The trainers were treating those dolphins like circus clowns. They were riding on the noses of the dolphins, I mean, that’s as bad as it gets.”
But Cameron didn’t see the irony in the situation. When the dolphins finished their performance, he waved at them, and they waved back. Then he later said that he would like to be involved in a similar show one day.
Avatar: The Way of Water is currently doing better than expected at the box office. It doesn’t debut in the United States until tomorrow (Dec. 16), but it has already raked in nearly $16 million in 15 countries during its opening days, which means it surpassed “the original Avatar and Top Gun: Maverick,” according to Variety.
However, animal rights activists are calling on people to slow the movie’s success in the domestic market. Some are simply asking James Cameron to apologize for supporting the dolphin show. Others are saying that’s not enough, and they want people to skip seeing the film altogether.
“I would love to see James Cameron pledge to never attend a dolphin show ever again and to denounce the cruel capture and slaughter of dolphins happening in Taiji, [Japan],” Warriors For Animals activist Bailey Mason wrote on Instagram.