so I'm lucky enough to have just seen an opening screening of Avatar. the movie has been a long time coming and if buzz is anything to go by its set to do rather well. actually buzz is something to go by… research by Aegis' ævolve shows a clear correlation between the amount of buzz a movie has in advance of release and the size of its opening weekend. Google Insights for search, as you'd expect, shows the same thing, very significant increases over the last month or so:
its a big movie for both audiences and those involved but also for Hollywood. with revenues increasingly moving to DVD and online, maximising revenues in cinema theatres is top priority for executives of studios that are feeling the pinch of a digitised economy more than most.
3D is key to this, and despite criticisms from, well, critics that far from adding to the cinema experience, 3D distracts from the quality of viewing, its a key strategy for maximising revenues in cinemas. of course it also makes, for the moment, the cinema experience unique. its normal if not preferable to watch a movie in the comfort of your home with the quality that we've come to expect from a cinema. plus no one talks behind you and you don't have to cock your head to one side to see 90% of the screen. 3D is currently a unique offering in cinemas, an offering that can be uniquely monetised in cinemas.
in many ways, the technology is the draw of this movie; yet for all its future-facing there's been no sign of the ambitious and 21st century marketing initiatives some of us have come to expect post Cloverfield, Batman Begins and the like. in fact for all its 21st Century technology Avatar feels distinctly 20th Century in its marketing… all the opportunities to engage a potential audience up front thru transparency were dismissed, in favour of a publish-and-be-damned approach to make a movie and sell it.
and selling it is what this movie has been all about… marketing efforts, for all their visibility, demand that you watch this movie rather than genuinely be part of the world from which it derives. for all its 21st century capabilities there's nothing of the Wachowski in here: no world beyond the world to discover and explore. and this seems distinctly ironic. for a movie that cost $500m dollars to create, we surely deserve more than 150 minutes of cinema. this movie begged for the trans-media but got nothing of the like: in a declined economy, $500m could be easily mistaken as a metaphor for what Cameron calls 'the Unobtanium'.