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April
27
Avatar: Cameron's New Frontier

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The irony is that while the latest Star Trek invokes the old promise to take you where no man has gone before, the movie itself, while giving you a very good time, takes you back to a familiar and pleasant sci-fi universe, and does so using existing cinematic technology.

The reason James Cameron's Avatar has so many people hot and bothered is that he really is promising to show us something brand new and never before achieved on film. And given the decade-long wait between feature projects--Titanic being the global blockbuster of all time ($1.8 billion)--we can all be forgiven for harboring high expectations. Besides, word inside Hollywood, the buzz from insiders is good. Not that anyone has seen the thing, it's not finished. Josh Quittner of Time Magazine saw 15 minutes and was blown away.

Cameron started virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, 2007, with live-action photography commencing in August, for a scheduled summer 2009 release, which was later pushed back to December 18, 2009. It was filmed with a new digital 3-D format for release in 3-D.

The director spent years in R&D on the multiple processes needed to create a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation, which he vowed would never pass the $200 million mark--which of course it has. Neither Cameron nor Fox want to repeat the budget overruns that plagued the $200 million Titanic, Cameron told me at the start of the picture. Here's the announcement story.

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Comments

My prediction? The biggest movie of the year, and perhaps the most groundbreaking and revolutionary since Star Wars.

Cameron can't be touched, he is the master of sci-fi action.

Oooh! Sounds like a backlash waiting to happen! I hear it's all a mind-control plot to brainwash the populace. Can we get that rumor started? And have Kevin McCarthy coming out of the theater screaming "You're next!"

@Brian: If it was any other director i'd agree with you. But it's James Cameron we're talking about here.

Sorry, Mark, but the last Cameron movie I had any affection for was ALIENS (1986--23 years ago!!!). I don't care how dazzling the effects and action are, there has to be some moral dimension in play for films on this scale to work for me. ALIENS was a fun, exciting war movie, with a strong central performance by Weaver, who brought some character and substance to the piece. Everything else by Cameron, I've found morally empty, like T2, or filled with false emotions, like TITANIC. Or just plain silly, like THE ABYSS. Not a lot to go on there.

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Variety blogger Anne Thompson is your trusted source for film industry news. She tracks Hollywood, Indiewood, awards season and film festivals for this daily blog.
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