Tag Archives: kung fu panda

Avatar News

Avatar Creature

Avatar, the 3D mega-project from James Cameron, was the subject of a profile in Time Magazine which, among a variety of other things about 3D cinema and its potential as the future of moviemaking, noting that Avatar’s budget has now soared beyond the $300m mark, likely making it the most expensive movie ever made.

Avatar has been a pet project of Cameron for a long time but I’m still a little wary of this potentially being the biggest flop in movie history.

I’m not fully convinced about 3D yet, especially given the inability of the majority of filmmakers who utilise the medium to eschew the use of gimmicks and tricks to show off the technology, rather than just making a great story. It’s a similar dichotomy to the one which exists in the relationship between Pixar and DreamWorks CGI animation. That did eventually turn around with Kung Fu Panda managing to tell a simple, non-pop-culture-referencing story from the DreamWorks studio which, while only matching the lesser works of Pixar, was still a hoot.

I have no doubt that films like Coraline will help to bring 3D into a more sophisticated balance with the basics of traditional storytelling, and perhaps Avatar will manage to do this to an even greater degree. But surely the infrastructure is not quite there yet to provide Avatar with the kind of space to make back $300m. Not enough 3D cinemas exist and, as I have been told from the past year, seeing 3D films outside of specialist exhibition houses can prove a migraine-inducing chore. It’s also, lest we forget, a science fiction film, and a wildly ambitious one at that. Cinema-goers may well be able to remember that this man brought them Titanic, but I’m not sure Cameron has the kind of commercial juice he’s going to need to make this one a giant hit and get the average cinema-goer to put down their prejudices and misgivings over certain genres.

I suppose that raises a question of whether it needs to be a hit. Avatar will, if nothing else, drive forward the development of new technology in the exhibition of movies and could well be among the most startling visual experiences viewers will ever have. But that doesn’t always mean box-office dollars and studios will rarely finance movies of similar ambition and ilk if the money didn’t role in the first time round. If Avatar fails, it could be a disaster for the filmmakers of the world who are seeking to further push the boundaries.

If not though, and from the descriptions given in the Time piece, this may well be among the most incredible filmic experience any of us ever undertake.

Will Recession Drive People to the Movies?


DreamWorks Animation SKG this week announced a 31 per cent drop in its fourth-quarter revenue, this in spite of the major box-office success seen for its Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar properties. The weaker results, according to this report from the Associated Press, through Salon, is a poorer-than-expected performance from both of its tentpole releases on home entertainment formats.

It was a similar story earlier in the month when Walt Disney Co reported a drop in revenues from DVD sales of 26 per cent. The question now is whether this is a trend for people to buy less DVDs or, is this a 2008 thing. CNN reported this week that cinema ticket sales are soaring in the downturn as ‘struggling people are looking for a $10, two-hour escape’.

It seems to me the downturn could have a mixed impact on the DVD marketplace. DVDs have been coming down in price of late so perhaps people will start to purchase more with a view to spending only a tenner on one DVD for the whole family to watch, rather than spending forty quid on tickets for everyone. But although the price drop has been noticeable to those of us who purchase DVDs on a regular basis, its possible that families really struggling in the recession will avoid spending even this, maybe preferring to rent movies out. This could see a rise in the level of rentals seen both in high street outlets like Blockbuster and for online players like LoveFilm and Amazon (or NetFlix for my friends in the US). 

That’s all highly speculative but I personally can only see the escapist angle of cinema working well while people actually have enough money to seek solace from the recession in the theatre. Surely, at some point, the time will come that families will be unable to afford this on a regular basis and will either turn to buying, renting or maybe television. Wherever they turn, this seems to me to be the kind of reaction which only occurs at the start of a long recessive financial period, meaning that once the true magnitude of the problems set in, and people are unable for some time to envisage a return to prosperity, even purchases like cinema and DVD will prove too much to stomach.