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John Drew

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It's a game-changer in that after seeing it everyone will stop playing baseball, basketball, football and hockey and start playing HOTBOX.

And that Bones tie-in-- oh, let's not mince words-- that whore-trick that Bones turned last night might be the funniest imaginable example of cross-marketing.

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FWIW, I don't know why I haven't done this before, but I got curious about the box-office performance of Cameron's earlier films and what sort of precedent they might set for Avatar. Titanic is in a category all its own, of course, but what about the others? Here's what Box Office Mojo has to say (alas, they don't have any figures for 1982's Piranha II: The Spawning; I am also not including Cameron's documentaries):

  • Year -- Title -- Yearly Domestic Rank -- Domestic Gross + Overseas Gross = Worldwide Gross
  • 1984 -- The Terminator -- #21 -- 38.4 + 40 = 78.4 million
  • 1986 -- Aliens -- #7 -- 85.2 + 45.9 = 131.1 million
  • 1989 -- The Abyss -- #24 -- 54.5 + 35.5 = 90 million
  • 1991 -- Terminator 2: Judgment Day -- #1 -- 204.8 + 315 = 519.8 million
  • 1994 -- True Lies -- #3 -- 146.3 + 232.6 = 378.9 million
  • 1997 -- Titanic -- #1 -- 600.8 million + 1.2 billion = 1.8 billion

So with the exception of The Abyss and the low-budget Terminator, all of Cameron's films have ended up in the Top Ten. Of course, of the four films that ended up in the Top Ten, two were sequels and one was a remake (albeit of a French film that few North Americans have seen); so with the wildly exceptional exception of Titanic, Cameron's "original" stories haven't performed quite so well.

So what kind of business would Avatar have to do to reach these heights? Well, last year at least, a film had to gross at least $110 million to rank #24, almost $200 million to rank #7, and at least $317 million to rank #3. (I'm avoiding using 2009 as a guide because the year is not yet over, and we do not know where the other holiday releases will rank on the chart when all is said and done.)

Can Avatar do that kind of business...?

I think it's fascinating, BTW, that True Lies was #3 the year it came out, behind only the phenomenally popular Forrest Gump and The Lion King. (It is also easily the third-biggest hit of Cameron's career, behind Titanic and Terminator 2.) And I think this is fascinating because it seems to me that that is the least-regarded film in Cameron's ouevre nowadays; if I'm not mistaken, it's the only one that has never had a "special edition" on DVD. Popularity can be so fleeting.

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Craig Detweiler has seen half-an-hour of footage:

Not since the first time I saw Star Wars have I felt so giddy, so transported by sheer visual splendor and delight. Viewers will call friends and family, describing scenes with boundless enthusiasm. Teenagers will be recreating scenes in their backyards. Few will be satisfied seeing it just once. James Cameron and his team have created an eye-popping spectacle that will enthrall filmgoers. Avatar is the real (digital) deal.

Like many, I was not impressed by the teaser trailer. The big blue characters were off-putting. The action sequences resembled video games we’ve all played. But the 3D, big screen experience is another story. I quickly forget I was watching digital characters. The performance capture technology blows away any lingering doubts created by the creepy humans in The Polar Express or Beowulf. Avatar delivers on all the hopes and promises of a technological breakthrough. But it never calls attention to the trickery. It is rooted in a compelling story, sweeping us up in an epic journey. Thirty minutes inside Avatar prompted me to buy two tickets to the first available 3D IMAX midnight screening I could find. I cannot wait for December 18th to arrive. I did not want the experience (or even individual scenes) to end. Movie magic abounds. . . .

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That's exactly what I was trying to get at eariler in the thread. It looks -- looks, mind you -- like they are aiming to pull off something spectacular, using the 3-D medium to render people speechless and willing to give up old ideas about the 3-D experience (they're looking at you, Roger Ebert).

That was exactly why I was interested. It was less in the story and the looks, but more at the high intent of the film's makers. That's also why when it seemed bad reviews were already coming in, I felt disappointed for them.

I'm with Ryan on this one. This is a great idea for a Christmas film with the family, but I don't want to see it outside the 3-D format.

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More featurettes, more possible spoilers ...

You can also see one that is narrated by Sigourney Weaver here.

... "Unobtanium"? The "Hallelujah Mountains"? Um, interesting ...

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Honeycutt:

The movie is 161 minutes and flies by in a rush. Repeat business? You bet. “Titanic”-level business? That level may never be reached again, but Fox will see more than enough grosses worldwide to cover its bet on Cameron.

But let’s cut to the chase: A fully believable, flesh-and-blood (albeit not human flesh and blood) romance is the beating heart of “Avatar.” Cameron has never made a movie just to show off visual pyrotechnics: Every bit of technology in “Avatar” serves the greater purpose of a deeply felt love story.

As with everything in “Avatar,” Cameron has coolly thought things through. With every visual tool he can muster, he takes viewers through the battle like a master tactician, demonstrating how every turn in the fight, every valiant death or cowardly act, changes its course. The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-’em-ups you care to mention…

In years of development and four years of production no detail in the pic is unimportant. Cameron’s collaborators excel beginning with the actors. Whether in human shape or as natives, they all bring terrific vitality to their roles.

Mauro Fiore’s cinematography is dazzling as it melts all the visual elements into a science-fiction whole. You believe in Pandora. Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg’s design brings Cameron’s screenplay to life with disarming ease.

James Horner’s score never intrudes but subtlety eggs the action on while the editing attributed to Cameron, Stephen Rivkin and John Refoua maintains a breathless pace that exhilarates rather than fatigues. Not a minute is wasted; there is no down time.

The only question is: How will Cameron ever top this?

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If the 3-D version of AVATAR is all that engrossing, it's a shame that a great portion of the audience won't see it in that format.

Ryan, why do you think that a great portion of the audience won't be able to see it that way?

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In 3-D?

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Can you see him sitting there with his little 3-D glasses on? I think he would look cute.

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Can you see him sitting there with his little 3-D glasses on? I think he would look cute.

He doesn't need 'em. He knows the future of cinema when he sees it and so had his corneas surgically polarized.

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In 3-D?

Yes.

There is already 7 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. So much for the embargo. Of course SDG will not spill the beans and tell us anything.

What do you want to know?

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If the 3-D version of AVATAR is all that engrossing, it's a shame that a great portion of the audience won't see it in that format.

Ryan, why do you think that a great portion of the audience won't be able to see it that way?

It's not so much a matter of ability to see it in that format as willingness to see it in that format. Frankly, many people are going to go to the theater having no idea that 3-D is the "proper" way to see AVATAR, and will just see it in 2-D. While we internet types know what's up with AVATAR, the advertising hasn't done a good job of selling the 3-D aspect of things.

Anyway, the reviews to this point have all been quite positive. I'm a little surprised at all the goodwill so far. I expected a more mixed response. Not that that means too much, overall, since there are plenty of films that have gotten a sea of raves and recommendations that I don't think are "all that." The jury's still out as to whether or not I bother with AVATAR. Given that I haven't cared for any bit of footage I've seen so far, it's going to take a bit to get me to shell out $15 for the IMAX 3-D ticket.

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Saw it.

Now I know who should have directed the Star Wars prequels.

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This was the first of four movies I saw today. And I don't think I have ever had to sign a confidentiality agreement before a screening before. Ordinarily the publicists just say "no reviews until opening day" and I say "yup, okay" and that's that. Ah well.

Jeff, I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that you would venture as much of an opinion here as you did. :blink:

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FWIW, I will say this much: Todd McCarthy @ Variety writes "in the year 2154 (according to the press notes)", but it's not just in the press notes: If you look closely at the various video logs, you can see the exact dates on which they were recorded in the lower left-hand side of the screen.

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If you look cute in 3-D glasses.

Yes.

Nothing really, I was just kidding. Is the 3-D game changing?

"Game changing" is a good word. Is it the 3-D? It's something.

Now I know who should have directed the Star Wars prequels.

Heck yes. Especially if Lucas had wanted to redo Return of the Jedi's Ewok-Empire battle the way it should have been. Plus other failed third films like The Matrix Revolutions and POTC: At World's End. Plus The New World and Pocahontas, Miyazaki, Aliens, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, where do I stop?

And I don't think I have ever had to sign a confidentiality agreement before a screening before. ...

Jeff, I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that you would venture as much of an opinion here as you did. :blink:

Why should Jeff adhere to your restrictions if he is, in fact, not you? :)

FWIW, I will say this much: Todd McCarthy @ Variety writes "in the year 2154 (according to the press notes)", but it's not just in the press notes: If you look closely at the various video logs, you can see the exact dates on which they were recorded in the lower left-hand side of the screen.

However, unless he noted the date during the screening, he would still be dependent on the press notes for the date.

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