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Anders wrote:

: Also, does anyone remember the months leading up to Titanic . . . ? Did *anyone* expect it to be a hit?

The way I remember it, that film had a fair bit of bad buzz for a while (though how much, I could not say), owing to the then-unprecedented $200 million budget (which broke the record set by Waterworld, which was itself a troubled production set at sea, and it didn't exactly set the box office on fire) plus the fact that it got bumped from its original release date (where it would have gone head-to-head with Men in Black; instead, it ended up going head-to-head with the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies). But as I recall it, the film's fortunes began to turn around a few weeks before it came out, as critics began raving about it. Its opening weekend wasn't all that remarkable -- it barely beat the James Bond film -- but as the weeks went by, word-of-mouth began to spread, and the rest, as they say, is history. In the end, the fact that it got bumped from the summer to December worked in the film's favour, as it plowed right through all the generally weak films that always come out in January and February etc., and the sheer scope and spectacle and historical-epic-ness of it led to a bunch of Academy Awards; had the film been released in the summer as originally planned, I'm sure it would have been nominated for SOMEthing, but it would have had to compete with other summer blockbusters, and it probably would have been on video by the time the Oscar campaigns kicked off, and it might not have had all that much momentum.

As for James Cameron films in general, I think The Terminator and especially Aliens are about as perfect as those kinds of films can get -- and I think just about every other Cameron film has been a less-successful reworking of those two films in some way (though admittedly, I have never seen Piranha II: The Spawning, and I have only dim memories of True Lies -- but that film was a remake of a French movie, so it already had a template to copy anyway). The Terminator was obviously reworked in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which I have always found at least somewhat disappointing, but it also has strong parallels in Titanic (the apocalyptic themes, the man who sacrifices his life to "save" a woman, the man who is misunderstood by the authority types who want to keep him away from the woman and so they lock him in a cabin/station, the cyborg/water that pursues the couple down the hallways, etc.). And The Abyss is basically Aliens redux (a bunch of people are stranded half-way through the movie by an accident, the clock is ticking on how much longer they have to live, etc.), except this time the aliens are good instead of bad.

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And The Abyss is basically Aliens redux (a bunch of people are stranded half-way through the movie by an accident, the clock is ticking on how much longer they have to live, etc.), except this time the aliens are good instead of bad.

And The Abyss has no fight scenes, whereas Aliens is almost entirely fight scenes. Apart from that, almost exactly the same...

Oh, yeah. Newt. Except for the two things, almost exactly the same.

Edited by bowen

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bowen wrote:

: And The Abyss has no fight scenes, whereas Aliens is almost entirely fight scenes. Apart from that, almost exactly the same...

Oh, The Abyss has fight scenes. But they're all between the humans. Kind of like the humans disagree -- and almost kill each other -- over how to cope with their situation in Aliens.

: Oh, yeah. Newt. Except for the two things, almost exactly the same.

Actually, that reminds me: Terminator 2 is kind of a fusion of The Terminator and Aliens, in that it obviously repeats many of the motifs of the original Terminator (time-travelling nudists, chase scenes on busy roads, etc.) but it also brings a strong mother-protector element into the picture that clearly harks back to Aliens. T2 and Aliens also both feature scenes of a man and woman running into an elevator, and then a monster (either organic or metallic) wrapping its fingers/hooks around the edges of the elevator doors and pulling them open, and then the man sticking a gun in the monster's mouth and blowing its head off. They also both feature scenes of a wounded person staying behind with a bomb (or the trigger for a bomb) in his/her hand while the main characters get away. Etc., etc.

And I haven't looked at the two faces side-by-side yet, but I could swear that Leonardo DiCaprio has the exact same haircut in Titanic that Edward Furlong had in T2.

Certainly the transportation devices in Avatar, whether walking or flying, are strongly reminiscent of the ones we have seen in Aliens and the futuristic flashbacks in the Terminator movies.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Actually, that reminds me: Terminator 2 is kind of a fusion of The Terminator and Aliens, in that it obviously repeats many of the motifs of the original Terminator (time-travelling nudists, chase scenes on busy roads, etc.) but it also brings a strong mother-protector element into the picture that clearly harks back to Aliens. T2 and Aliens also both feature scenes of a man and woman running into an elevator, and then a monster (either organic or metallic) wrapping its fingers/hooks around the edges of the elevator doors and pulling them open, and then the man sticking a gun in the monster's mouth and blowing its head off. They also both feature scenes of a wounded person staying behind with a bomb (or the trigger for a bomb) in his/her hand while the main characters get away. Etc., etc.

I think your Abyss=Aliens comparison was off the mark, but the above is pretty good stuff.

Edited by bowen

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FWIW, Jeffrey Wells linked to these tweets by Yair Raveh of Cinemascope.co.il:

  • I just saw the first 17 min of Avatar. Beware, we might have another Speed Racer on out hands here. This is total bullshit.
  • Remember those coloring books we had as kids where we painted pink dragons and blue men? Well, Avatar looks just like that.
  • (re:Avatar) What was THAT?! Oh man... that was plain ugly. Everyone walked out screeching their heads, saying- Why are we here?
  • (Re:Avatar) Good thing this is the 17 min screening. If this was the real thing, chances I would have walked out after 17 min.
Well, I liked Speed Racer, myself, but I take the guy's point.

Wells also explains why Avatar is unlikely to repeat Titanic's bad-buzz reversal.

Meanwhile, this site has some amazing side-by-side comparisons of Avatar and Delgo, e.g.:

Delgotar1.jpg

Delgotar2.jpg

Delgotar4.jpg

Delgotar5.jpg

And there are a few other examples at that site, too. Wow.

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Overstreet wrote:

: Ahem.

A whole different website, with a whole different set of images (though some of them do overlap, thematically). A nice addition to the collection, though.

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Did the people that watched the 17 minutes get to see it in 3-D?

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/Film has been collecting testimonies from the previews here. Last I checked, most of them were saying that the trailer doesn't give us any idea of just how amazing the 3-D experience is.

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Jeffrey Wells:

The Avatar footage, projected onto the huge IMAX screen inside Leows Lincoln Square, wasn't quite as vivid and needle-sharp looking as the 3D San Diego reel. And yet LLS projects "real" IMAX (i.e., on super-sized film) vs. the digital "fake" IMAX-on-smaller-screens that other NYC theatres were showing. What gives? My semi-educated guess is that Avatar looks better with digital projection since it's been an all-digital show from shooting to FX to post. Transferring to film (even IMAX film) just degrades. I know that what I saw wasn't as on-the-money so what other conclusion could there be?

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It sounds like a LOT of people aren't impressed with this trailer. This may turn out to be the most counter-productive teaser released by a major studio since that Super Bowl spot for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Actually, the trailer made me want to actual see this... It looks like wonderful eye candy. I've never looked to Cameron for anything more. When he does deliver with some level of substance, it's a pleasant surprise.

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The trailer in 3-D is even cooler. This, and the Jim Carrey Christmas film, look flat-out fantastic.

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Two different copies of the new trailer that leaked today. Enjoy 'em while you can. Gotta say, when it comes to theme and dialogue, this is looking pretty heavy-handed -- like, even clunky -- especially in the opening bits. But that's not unusual for James Cameron, so there ya go. (BTW, note how the filmography includes ALMOST every movie he has ever directed. But not quite.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfu9ooET72o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqDAq7N9bQs

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Did James Cameron Rip Off Poul Anderson's Novella?

Reader Goldfarb pointed us to Call Me Joe, a novella written in 1957 by Golden Age science fiction writer Poul Anderson. Many fans of Anderson suspect that the story was an important influence on Avatar, and some are calling for Anderson to be credited on the film. And it's easy to see why.

i09, October 26

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The first trailer runs almost 3-and-a-half minutes and seems to give away most of the plot; if you just want the last 44 seconds, check the second trailer. Gotta say, the footage seems breathtaking ... or it would be, if any of it was real.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTBIRNQ_Qzk

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FWIW, I just wrote this in the comments at SpoutBlog, where a comparison was made between the Giovanni Ribisi character in Avatar and the Paul Reiser character in Aliens:

Actually, the Giovanni Ribisi - Paul Reiser comparison doesn`t really work in Avatar`s favour, at least not based on what we see in the trailer. The great thing about Reiser’s character is that he comes across as kind of friendly at first — certainly compared to all the hard-headed corporate types in the boardroom scene near the beginning of that film — but then we gradually begin to see just what a slimeball he really is (and a cowardly slimeball at that). The Ribisi character, on the other hand, just seems like a hard-headed corporate type from the get-go, and is thus just that much more obvious and boring a villain.

As always, feel free to disagree! But of course, we won't really know what to make of the two characters until we've seen the new film in full.

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Patrick Goldstein gets off one of the funnier Cameron-related comments I've seen, in the context of discussing the sexuality of the expected Best Director contenders at this year's Oscars:

If you look at any one of the multitude of Oscar prognostication lists in the blogosphere, you'll find that among the obvious best picture favorites are movies directed by the likes of Clint Eastwood ("Invictus"), Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds"), Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), Pete Docter ("Up"), the Coen brothers ("A Serious Man") and James Cameron ("Avatar"). All of the aforementioned are straight, white guys -- and frankly, from everything I know about the many-times-married Cameron, when it comes to being straight, you'd have to count him twice.

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I like how a simple change in music changes the tone in trailers drastically.

Well, they had to change something. It is, as the trailer so astutely pointed out, the "greatest adventure of all time".

Yeah. Ok.

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Well, they had to change something. It is, as the trailer so astutely pointed out, the "greatest adventure of all time".

Yeah. Ok.

I thought Ferngully was the greatest adventure of all time.

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