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Hype? What Hype?

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | December 10, 2009 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | December 10, 2009 |

Avatar comes out next week, and since James Cameron has been working on it for forty-seven years and spent so much money making it that it can only be calculated in Monopoly money, the hype machine is in full roaring overdrive. We’ll sum it up here.

1. IMDB says that Cameron has spent over $500 million on the project once advertising and such is included. Plugging that into my calculomator … average ticket price of say $10 … figure around 250 million Americans over the age of eight or so … oh my. In order to break even, roughly one in five Americans has to buy a ticket. Yeah, I know, there are overseas sales, DVDs, rentals, but the sheer balls (let alone pull with investors) Cameron has to have to even attempt this is awe-inspiring. The numbers get a little more sane as you realize how insane movie budgets have gotten over the last decade though. $500 million seems unbelievable, but the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie had a $300 million budget. Of course, District 9 only had a budget of $30 million and it managed to put photorealistic aliens into a sci-fi film too.

2. They just released a final movie poster, which is funny, because I think most people see these online not outside of box offices at this point.


Meh. Looks like a Japanese style RPG for the PS3 that ends up in the bargain bin for $9.99 after three weeks. Either that or a new ride at Disney Land.

3. Speaking of video games, just such a version of Avatar got released last week for every major gaming platform out there and is getting middling to average reviews from the gaming press. The summary version: eh, maybe worth a rental if you’re bored.

4. Cameron, when asked if he was concerned about negative backlash due to all the hype said: “No, it’s good, as we had to sell a movie that wasn’t a sequel or remake or part of a franchise or based on a best-seller. It had no brand awareness, and I was more worried about people not even knowing about the film than them kind of arguing about it or having high expectations or having those dashed.” Sounds more or less commonsensicle. (source, SciFi Wire)

5. The first press screenings are today. Not for us though. We still have souls and will be watching (and reviewing) the film with the rest of the peasants next week.

I think what the hype needs to be stripped back to is this: James Cameron made Terminator, Terminator 2 and Aliens. The man has the kind of sci-fi street cred that George Lucas would give up his Ewok real dolls just to get a sniff of. The details ooze out from behind the curtain like an evolving urban legend: he’s worked on the project for the better part of fifteen years, which he has based on “every single science fiction book I read as a kid;” he’s writing the novel adaptation himself. It might be a disaster, and Cameron might be too close to it to see its flaws. But this is a man of extraordinary talent who has poured his heart and soul into forging something he sees in his dreams. And isn’t that why we make movies in the first place?

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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