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celebrity news

The avatar of James Cameron is exposed by The New Yorker

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I had a moment wondering whether I should file this story about the man making Avatar under "film" or "celebrity" until I came to the realization that, when you're talking about the unstoppable juggernaut that is James Cameron, you file it underneath the category that he tells you to file it under.

We're two months out from the release of Cameron's Avatar, which some are calling the world's most expensive video game clip ever made. The New Yorker magazine's Dana Goodyear has published an article about the man whose creative vision is costing 20th Century Fox upwards of $300 million dollars to realize (a budget that Fox has never confirmed but that is whispered as being the minimum cost for Avatar.) And if you thought that time had mellowed the man whose legendary perfectionism on the sets of The Abyss, True Lies and Titanic have become the ghost stories whispered to producers around a midnight campfire to scare each other, you'd be wrong. He's depicted in the New Yorker piece as being just as tough as nails as was heard 11 years back when making the world's most expensive movie, Titanic, was still in production.

The article is full of quotes from Hollywood's A-list of directors. In it guys like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas give their impressions of Cameron to Goldberg. The journalist also interviewed three of Cameron's five wives like director Kathryn Bigelow ("The very first night, I realized it was a mistake,") and Terminator star Linda Hamilton ("Much alcohol was consumed by Linda Hamilton.") But apart from showing the dark side of Cameron as an human being it also shows us a glimmer into what a filmmaker has to be to get his creative vision on the screen, something that Cameron's detractors don't often stop to take note of. Could anyone else in Hollywood have made Titanic and emerged from the creative Hell at the other end with 11 Academy Awards and the highest-grossing movie of all time?

Read The New Yorker's piece and come to understand that when Avatar opens on December 17, no matter what the final box office or critical results are, what you'll be getting is an undiluted vision straight from James Cameron without compromise.

-The New Yorker.
Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

2 months to go and the hype-o-meter in the real world (as opposed to here in Geekdom) is making barely a ripple. Nobody with a real life knows anything about this movie.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Kaeos
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Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

I gotta agree with Dalty here. If they don't get their marketing in gear and get it ramped up quick the general public is going to collectively yawn when this hits theaters.

So it begs the question then. What happens if this DOES tank abysmally at the box office? Pat your article seems to suggest that Cameron is untouchable, that he may be "too big to fail". Thats what they said when Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers were allowed to fail. Just sayin.

The Best Music, and The Best New Talk Radio! www.iTMIRadio.com
WarCry
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Posts: 152
Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

It's great that Cameron has such a strong vision of what he wants, but when you start talking about budgets bigger than SUCCESSFUL movies' box office takes, you're asking for trouble. Domestically, TF2 is the biggest movie this year, with just over $400 million. What that means is that, in a December release (as opposed to a summer blockbuster), they have to take the #1 slot for the year to do just a bit better than breaking even.

I am a geek, and I'm not all that excited about this. I've seen the trailer, and it looks good, but, eh. My local theatres aren't set up for the 3D right now, so I probably wouldn't see it that way. I think folks at studios see that $600 million Titanic number and start drooling, but they're going to be in for a rude surprise. I just don't think there's enough "general audience" appeal to push this.

 You don't have to like it, you just have to do it. --Richard Marcinko
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

Kaeos: Cameron can fail, he's human, but even if AVATAR does tank (and anything less than $125 million will likely be called a financial failure), he's still got teflon on her thanks to his past accomplishments. I don't think anyone in Fox is expecting TITANIC-like numbers from AVATAR; this is a thank you for the amount of cash he brought Fox for TITANIC.

I also think that the sci-fi ideas in Jon Spaihts SHADOW 19 far outweigh the rather bland DANCES WITH WOLVES storyline in AVATAR. The only thing I was really jazzed to see were the alien plants and animals on Pandora. They're not that cool looking in the trailer. The ones in ALIEN PLANET on TLC looked more alien and were more of a fun design than the critters seen so far in AVATAR.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Daltons chin dimple
Location:
Posts: 12800
Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

With stuff like Paranormal Activity coming in at a 3000:1 return on investment, and District 9 at at least.... what?..... 5:1, 7:1 ROI I think that no director is untouchable unless you are Lucas and independent / self funded.

Actually, ROI is an interesting figure to include on box office reports going forward so it's not about gross, but value for money.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Pilgram
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Posts: 13
Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

Cameron has an uphill battle to fight with the general audience and Avatar. He had Fanboys and Geek Chic from go but to do what Avatar needs in Box Office he has to sell it to my mom. This may be hard. However I do remember working at a TV station when Titanic hit and everyone was making fun of it a week out. 4 weeks later everyone could not stop talking about there experience with it. If he can produce that with Avatar he's got a winner.

"We do these things not because we can, but because we are compelled too."
Daltons chin dimple
Location:
Posts: 12800
Posted: 12 years 50 weeks ago

Re: Titanic. The ladies loved Leo and the romance, the costumes and the general story. The guys loved the fact that it was a technically huge movie with killer effects, plus they could take a girl to see it without being bored to tears, and Winslet got her clothes off. Mum and granny loved it because there was very little swearing and violence. Little brother loved it because the great big ship sank and you got to see people die. It started as a romance then became an action movie. The ladies got to cry when Leo died. They guys got to smirk because the smug little f*cker died.

Avatar.... well the cute male lead is either confined to a wheelchair or a big blue alien body. The female lead is always a big blue alien. It's got the fact that it is Sci-Fi to overcome in the mass audience appeal stakes.

That said, if you had told me before Titanic came out that a 3 hour movie about a sinking ship would be the biggest film of all time, I would have laughed in your face!

Cameron took what was essentially an Irwin Allen style disaster movie concept and turned it into something far, far greater than the sum of it's parts. Maybe he can do the same with a sci-fi film.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
The Swollen Goi...
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Posts: 14343
Posted: 12 years 49 weeks ago

I think we forget how buzz works in the real world. We have higher saturation points than the casual moviegoer. If there were nonstop Avatar advertising going on in print and television, the average person would burn out. I'd be willing to bet that more than half the geek community is already burnt out on it. That probably won't hurt the box office all that much. You can overhype the Hell out of a movie to the geeks, and they whine and bitch about being overhyped as they are waiting in line to see it. (This point gets made a lot. It gets made a lot because it is a valid point.)

The geek tenor seems to be one of general disenchantment following what was believed to have been promises of Avatar being a photorealistic "Game Changer." This from Cameron's own mouth, apparently, though I do not have a link to the original story/interview. His hyperbole, if I am not mistaken, was in response to early test footage. I'm guessing it looked pretty decent, and he probably thought to himself, "This is going to look incredible when it's finished!" And then it got finished. It still just looked pretty decent, and he did a little damage control to lower everyone's expectations. (This from another interview to which I do not have the link.)

I haven't seen the Imax 3-D footage, so I can't comment on it. If the movie absolutely needs to be seen that way to be enjoyed, it's going to hurt the movie in the long run. I know the plot line. It is nothing we haven't seen before in terms of storytelling. (Then again, what is?) If it's no more than a visual feast, I doubt I will enjoy it. If it has some style and humor in it--the way Cameron's movies have in the past--then I probably will enjoy it. I'm not sure about Sam Worthington, though. He doesn't strike me as a man with a lot of joy in his heart or much of a sense of fun. He's been handpicked by Hollywood to be the next big thing, though, so maybe there's more there than has met my eye.

Space Tycoon
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Posts: 2464
Posted: 12 years 48 weeks ago

All I care about is how this film makes me feel personally. Don't give a damn about the box office receipts. That's me.

Cameron has not failed me--with the exception of the fun, yet utterly racist True Lies.

I saw this trailer on a proper screen at a pub tonight, and I was captivated. It looks AWESOME. Can't wait for the release.