Viewers surely still remember that time Saturday Night Live took some jabs at James Cameron’s Avatar via a short starring Ryan Gosling. Truth be told, it still stands as one of the great SNL sketches featuring an A-list host. The 2017 skit hilariously started discussions about the blockbuster franchise using the font “Papyrus” as its logo. With that, Cameron himself is now recalling how he and his collaborators subsequently faced a bit of a “dilemma” with The Way of Water due to the joke.
In the sketch, Ryan Gosling plays a character who becomes super intense about his realization of Avatar’s font. He talks about it in therapy, calling the graphic designer who chose the design “a thoughtless child, just wandering by a garden, just yanking leaves along the way." Gosling’s character resorts to stalking the designer and yelling about the whole situation while in the rain, saying “I know what you did!” It was hilarious, to say the least, and James Cameron can see the humor in it -- even if it did stoke up an internal discussion:
I mean, the thing is, we actually now had a dilemma on movie two. It's like, 'Are we going to keep the same font, the highest-grossing film in history, or are we going to change it?' Mess with the formula. It's like, 'Fuck it, we're using the font. If Ryan gets his panties in a bunch over it, then so be it.
While speaking to People about Ryan Gosling’s comedic bit, the Oscar-winning director shared that he thought “the font thing’s funny” before sharing that the sketch did lead to a conversation behind the scenes regarding whether Avatar: The Way of Water should lean into its branding or go into another direction. Today, the font is mostly the same, except it’s somewhat bolder than the OG design. Back in 2020, people noticed the change to the logo for the first Avatar movie on Disney+, which somewhat strayed away from Papyrus. You can check out the sketch that arguably initiated all of this down below:
The filmmaker hilariously reacted to the sketch when he was promoting The Way Of Water last December. He said “it haunted me,” quoting Ryan Gosling's character, before sharing that he was only joking. In his latest interview on the subject, James Cameron also said this about the skit:
I love Saturday Night Live. You've got to be able to laugh with and at yourself on Saturday Night Live. They had me light a cigar off a hundred-dollar bill after Titanic became the highest-grossing film in history. First of all, I don't smoke cigars... and I'd never light a hundred-dollar bill on fire. It'd be a bad thing for my kids to see, but it's funny.
This man gets it. It’s all in good fun. Along with the visionary director finding space to laugh about the SNL sketch, the creator of Papyrus font once said that the viral video was “one of the best things” he’d seen. He watched it the Sunday morning after it aired, and an influx of people were asking him if he’d seen it at the time. The sketch is just so oddly specific that it’s too clever not to love!
After James Cameron’s first Avatar film becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time at $2.9 billion worldwide, The Way of Water did numbers rather close as it grossed $2.3 billion at the global box office. One can't truly say whether or not the fonts of the respective logos played into that success. What can be said though is that the subject made for a truly memorable SNL sketch.