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Thread: Avatar 2009

  1. #61
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    Absoflogginlutely beautiful

    Issue #120 of Cinefex magazine arrived with over half of the issue dedicated to the production of "Avatar" (2009) with production stills and art for submission to the Motion Picture Academy. (A collector's item if I ever saw one) The full page shots which include close-ups are about as real as you can get with all the art, emphasis on art, thrown in. Right up your alley, Chris. Someone has got to be coming out with a book called "The Art of Avatar" or my name isn't Buffalo Bill Cody... and it's not!
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  2. #62
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    No SAG Nominations

    Nobody, no real actor was even nominated a Screen Actor's Guild Award, a possible sign of things to come. Do we still need even good actors in "great" movies anymore? Maybe we can just as with models, nowadays, just do a little paint brush on magazine covers, we can perhaps just do the same for less stellar actors and use computer assistance to create a whole new movie acting experience that will gain the acceptance of best actor or actress award nominations. What's the difference? Is it human or not?

  3. #63
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    Many actors were honored at the SAG Awards, though some big ones were passed up, including the UP IN THE AIR and HURT LOCKER casts.

  4. #64
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    The Champ

    "Avatar" is poised to become the biggest BO champ of all time. Its domestic gross is just eight million shy of Titantic. (Since the film took 36 million this weekend alone, I think they can make that much during the week). I believe we can officially say that the gamble James Cameron made on this film has paid off. Kudos to you, Mr. Cameron. You wanted it your way. They should have listened. Now you have the final word... speak, sir. We are listening.
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  5. #65
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    It's the number of tickets that really matter

    AVATAR still has a way to go to really become the most popular (as opposed to most financially successful in 2010 dollars) as there are number of movies that have attracted more people. Anyway, again what does the most financially successful (in 2010 dollars) really have to do with the quality of the film anyway? Just yesterday USA Today came out with an article "Psychologists: Propaganda works better than you think." People can be made to believe and buy stuff that they really didn't even know they wanted in the first place.

  6. #66
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    See Alexander Cockburn's "From Genesis to Gaia" in The Nation. This is most of the last paragraph:
    In 1975 Stewart Brand printed in the summer issue of his CoEvolution Quarterly Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock's "The Gaia Hypothesis," which advanced the notion that "living matter, the air, the oceans, the land surface" are "parts of a giant system" that exhibits "the behavior of a single organism, even a living creature." Thirty-five years later, James Cameron gives us Avatar and the planet Pandora, which is Gaia brought to life in the most savage denunciation of imperial exploitation--clearly American--ever brought to screen. Now a huge hit, Avatar is the most expensive antiwar film ever made (at $200 million, about half the cost of a single F-22). "It is nature which today no longer exists anywhere," a peppery German wrote in 1845. But Rousseau is having his revenge on Marx. The night I went to Avatar the audience cheered when Pandora, as a single Gaian organism, puts Earth's predatory onslaught to flight and man's war machines are crushed by natural forces. Against Genesis and the Judeo-Christian tradition, pagan mysticism is carrying the day, at least at the level of fantasy.

  7. #67
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    And also in The Nation, same January 7, 2010 issue, see Stewart Klawans' "Imaginariums," with a discussion of Avatar as well as Imaginarium, Sherlock Holmes, Nine, A Town Called Panic, and Police, Adjective. This is too long to provide a good sound bite and this is only part of a very thought-provoking piece:
    As suffused with intimations of the divine as a Hudson River School landscape, and very much a product of that pictorial tradition, Avatar offers you nothing less than transcendence, in both the Lisztian meaning of the word, as virtuosic execution, and in the commonly accepted religious sense. Whether the film makes good on these twin promises (I'll plunge in and say it does) is perhaps less interesting than its having explicitly united them. Avatar proposes that the Great Chain of Being really exists and is accessible simultaneously to the characters on the screen and the audience in the seats by means of a neuromotor plug-in.

    By now, even if you have not seen Avatar, you will know that the excuse for this connection--the plot--is familiar cowboys-and-Indians fare, remarkable only for having combined titanic marketing power with a worldview congenial to readers of The Nation. Well, worse things could come along than an anti-imperialist, pro-Gaea sci-fi blockbuster, which pits the nature-loving wisdom of an indigenous people against a mining company's clanking, murderous machinery. That Cameron has sided with the tree huggers (literally) but used sophisticated technology to do so is a readily spotted irony and may be readily dismissed as a criticism, if you consider that his own factory does nothing worse than keep hundreds of people peacefully employed making pictures. Besides, Avatar insists that spiritual truths are not only compatible with science but are demonstrably rooted in biophysics--a position that becomes all but irrefutable when asserted by a ten-foot-tall, blue, tiger-striped Sigourney Weaver.

  8. #68
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    I'll be seeing this in about 4 days. In 3-D. Can't F'n wait..
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  9. #69
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    Art - a personal perspective

    First, 'bout time, Johann.

    As Stewart Klawans says in his article, "Geeks prepared for the revelation [of Avatar] by draping themselves in garlands of e-mails," in speaking of its anticipation. I tend to agree, but only partially. I agree that Fox had plenty of advertisement for the film, including numerous interviews and guest spots. However, that can only help a film so far. After that, the movie must stand on its own. No amount of publicity can save a bad film, as many studios have discovered through the years. Big budgets can also mean big disasters. However, on a rare occasion, a single person has a vision for a film and gathers a group around him or her to help bring that vision to the screen. I can think of many examples, from Hitchcock (Psycho) to Welles (Citizen Kane) to Wyler (Ben-Hur) to Speilberg (Schindler's List) to Lucas (Star Wars) to Coppola (The Godfather). While film is a collaborative effort, the vision of the individual, usually the director, guides the work from start to finish and delivers a product that stands up to multiple viewings. Klawans, in a round about and overly intellectual way, arrives at a similar conclusion, although his analysis of plot is slightly over the top. He took great pains to find the root appeal to its mass attraction by careful examination of the rudimentary elements that comprise the film and its creator. All fine and good. However, such "intellectual masturbation" as I have come to call it over the years, does not produce what Cameron found so easy to do... find the art, let the story tell itself.

    From the start of this thread, I said the plot was very simple. Klawans calls it "cowboys and indians." It is, but with a modern twist, just as Star Wars is also a western with outer space elements. Yet, if we even go back to the western and look at those elements, we find why they had such great appeal at one time. These include the basic elements of plot and story. True the protagonist is a cripple whose deliverance can be considered Christ-like or prophet. Only these are but stories, too. The kind of writing that is sucessful usually uses these same plot devices that have been used in storytelling since the beginning of human speech to elicite emotional chords that are universally felt. Find the right combination, and you can make a million. Deliver the right combination with a personal touch that also gives the audience a new artistic twist, and you can laugh at the critics all the way to the bank.
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  10. #70
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    Separate Tables and Avatar

    Thanks to digital television offering more channels, I managed quite by accident to catch the last four-fifths of SEPARATE TABLES (1983) , made of television movie starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, and Claire Bloom last night. The movie was shot in a play setting format, yet what struck me was the relatively simply plot outline and yet its presentation was so captivating, so rich in nuance, and so bitingly and emotional gripping that when I compare this television movie to AVATAR, I can't but be struck by how deeply SEPARATE TABLES was able to strike strong cords of both emotional and intellectual resonance on the topic of difficult human and intimate relationships as well as controversial public sentiment and humiliation and tolerance. In comparison toe AVATAR, SEPARATE TABLES was production singularly focused on the acting and ferment of the human condition while AVATAR took advantage of spectacular visual effects, almost hypnotizing its audience into a mindless joyride that offered some tidbits of the resolution of ethical dilemmas and heroic battles. Yet I would take SEPARATE TABLES over AVATAR because it was it didn't require fancy gloss-over effects to get its strong and sensitive message across. As I mentioned elsewhere, for alien-ness, even a movie like THE FIRST SPACE SHIP TO VENUS (1960) with its low-budget could easily rival AVATAR for its depiction of an otherly world.

  11. #71
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    Apples and oranges

    If we're speaking just of acting, then why not take a film like, "12 Angry Men" instead of "Avatar"? This Sidney Lumet film is shot in one room with absolutely no action and no other sets used - twelve men acting, pure theater and as far removed from cinema as one can get. Why do I say that? Because cinema is not a stationary thing. While the acting in "12 Angry Men" is practically superior to anything you can name, it is still theater and not cinema.

    The art of cinema is to tell stories using this medium of film (and now digital, but the same difference - you still have to cut between shots whether physical or in a computer). What we are talking about when we sing the praises of "Avatar" has nothing to do with a detraction of the actors or acting. It has more to do with a fluid and visual expression of art.

    So when you come down on "Avatar" because it uses "virtual actors" and not real ones, you are missing the point. No one is advocating that actors be replaced and no one should. I started in the theater at the ripe old age of three and performed in plays for the next forty years of my life. The theater is in my blood. Yet, I also studied cinema and turned out some very interesting product. However, I look at James Cameron's work with envy. For he has blended that world into a wonderful homogenous effect. I understand your fear that the popularity of this medium might under cut the work of actors. But rest assured, we will be around for a very long time, with or without special effects around us. That is the human condition, to look at another human and listen to them tell a story, by gesture or facial... and no computer will ever take its place, not even a fancy one. Disney's realistic animation in 1938, called "Snow White" did not replace actors (actually quoted in the New York Times!) nor will this fantasy.

    "Have no fear, Underdog is here!"
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  12. #72
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    Thanks for your Reassurance

    Quote Originally Posted by cinemabon View Post
    If we're speaking just of acting, then why not take a film like, "12 Angry Men" instead of "Avatar"? This Sidney Lumet film is shot in one room with absolutely no action and no other sets used - twelve men acting, pure theater and as far removed from cinema as one can get. Why do I say that? Because cinema is not a stationary thing. While the acting in "12 Angry Men" is practically superior to anything you can name, it is still theater and not cinema.

    The art of cinema is to tell stories using this medium of film (and now digital, but the same difference - you still have to cut between shots whether physical or in a computer). What we are talking about when we sing the praises of "Avatar" has nothing to do with a detraction of the actors or acting. It has more to do with a fluid and visual expression of art.

    So when you come down on "Avatar" because it uses "virtual actors" and not real ones, you are missing the point. No one is advocating that actors be replaced and no one should. I started in the theater at the ripe old age of three and performed in plays for the next forty years of my life. The theater is in my blood. Yet, I also studied cinema and turned out some very interesting product. However, I look at James Cameron's work with envy. For he has blended that world into a wonderful homogenous effect. I understand your fear that the popularity of this medium might under cut the work of actors. But rest assured, we will be around for a very long time, with or without special effects around us. That is the human condition, to look at another human and listen to them tell a story, by gesture or facial... and no computer will ever take its place, not even a fancy one. Disney's realistic animation in 1938, called "Snow White" did not replace actors (actually quoted in the New York Times!) nor will this fantasy.

    "Have no fear, Underdog is here!"
    Your words are comforting to hear. I shall look forward with interest with the reign of the 3-D film during this decade.

  13. #73
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    Here's The Company That AVATAR keeps and still has a ways to go

    As AVATAR is about to surpass TITANIC as the number one box office champion based on unadjusted dollar box receipts is well to remember other films that may have a just as strong a claim as box office champions and as to whether such a claim relates to the quality and "best" movie claim as well, I'll leave to readers to look over the list and decide for themselves.

    Rank Title ( Year) (Est. tickets) (Adjusted Gross)

    1 Gone With The Wind (1939) 202,044,600/1,455,000,000
    2 Star Wars (1977) 178,119,600/1,282,000,000
    3 The Sound of Music (1965) 142,415,400/1,025,000,000
    4 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 141,854,300/1,021,000,000
    5 The Ten Commandments (1956) 131,000,000/943,000,000
    6 Titanic (1997) 128,210,000/924,000,000
    7 Jaws (1975) 128,078,800/922,000,000
    8 Doctor Zhivago (1965) 124,135,500/894,000,000
    9 The Exorcist (1973) 110,568,700/796,000,000
    10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) 109,000,000/784,000,000
    11 One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) 99,917,300/719,000,000
    12 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 98,180,600/707,000,000
    13 Ben-Hur (1959) 98,000,000/706,000,000
    14 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) 94,059,400/677,000,000
    15 The Sting (1973) 89,142,900/641,000,000
    16 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 88,141,900/632,000,000
    17 Jurassic Park (1993) 86,361,800/620,000,000
    18 The Graduate (1967) 85,571,400/616,000,000
    19 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) 84,738,800/611,000,000
    20 Fantasia (1941) 83,043,500/598,000,000
    21 The Dark Knight (2008) 80,765,300/533,000,000
    22 The Godfather (1972) 78,922,600/568,000,000
    23 Avatar (2009) 78,133,700

  14. #74
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    I'm not certain of your source, however, by that standard "Birth of a Nation" actually sold more tickets than any film in the history of film (domestic gross), more than "Gone with the Wind." However, when you apply the rule (adjusted BO according to inflation) the figures can change because the rules are arbitary at best:

    "ACCURACY OF FIGURES
    Adjusting for ticket price inflation is not an exact science and should be used to give you a general idea of what a movie might have made if released in a different year, assuming it sold the same number of tickets.

    Since these figures are based on average ticket prices they cannot take into effect other factors that may affect a movie's overall popularity and success. Such factors include but are not limited to: increases or decreases in the population, the total number of movies in the marketplace at a given time, economic conditions that may help or hurt the entertainment industry as a whole (e.g., war), the relative price of a movie ticket to other commodities in a given year, competition with other related medium such as the invention and advancements of Television, VHS, DVD, the Internet, etc…

    Still, this method best compares "apples to apples" when examining the history of box office earnings."

    source: http://boxofficemojo.com/about/adjuster.htm

    A film ticket costs seven cents when "Birth of a nation" premiered. The average cost of a ticket for "Gone with the Wind" was less than a quarter. Since the price of admission today is significantly higher, it is difficult to compare previous releases in terms of money made based on number of tickets sold. Currently, no film has ever made as much money as "Avatar"
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  15. #75
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    It is only a matter of time before another movie in future will make more 'money" in gross dollar terms than Avatar. Figures must be adjusted to the current value of the dollar. Even if such adjustments are approximate, they might still show Avatar is NOT the world's greatest movie hit. Furthermore, due to the greater number of media platforms today, theater attendance is only a piece of the action, whereas, before television, cinema was, for a few decades anyway, the universal source of entertainment for all the world. And so, in that sense, no film, no matter how profitable or widely attended, will be as big a hit as in the pre-TV days.

    Surely it is fair to say that all this is rather pointless on a site devoted to film, rather than business? If we love Avatar, can't we express it in terms of its merits rather than its profits? For dissenters, these figures only show this is a commercial, not an artistic success. There seems to be some subconscious feeling that somehow if Avatar makes enough money or sells enough tickets it will be proven to be a masterpiece. But it will only be proven to have been well promoted and popular.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-01-2010 at 06:53 PM.

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