Avatar 2 So Costly It Has To Gross 2 Billion To Break Even.

P.S. Cameron DOES NOT compromise. Not any more and not for a long time. He is driven and a perfectionist. Painfully so. He gave up his salary and percentage on Titanic (1997) while making it to keep final cut even daring studio heads to fire him repeatedly at the time. So no “he doesn’t work within a studio system” and hasn’t since Aliens (1986). After that, he entered late career Stanley Kubrick levels of autonomy and control ever since.

One last thing. Forgive my passion. That’s all it is. Passion. When a subject hits my level of passion, WATCH OUT! I’ve dialed it back over the years but it is sincere and it is me. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you my friend.

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Yes, I get that you really love James Cameron, but that love should not justify anyone spending a billion dollars to make a movie unless you think making Disney’s stockholders richer is the justification.

I don’t find a refusal to compromise something to admire. I think it’s a negative trait. And I think a billion dollars could be better spent on a lot of more deserving things.


I don’t “really love James Cameron.” I really love cinema. It saved my life. I really love cinema but I’m objective enough to not be anyone’s fanboy. Jim Cameron is obstinate, tyrannical, obsessive, egotistical, myopic, and a gigantic a-hole because of his passions minus any perspective or temperance to restrain them. Isn’t that what you’re saying? I acknowledge all of that but I am at peace not to worry about something I can neither control nor change. Furthermore these directors and filmmakers live big dreams on a day-to-day basis and I won’t talk down any dream as long as it’s merited somewhat by the person who stands behind it.

To explain myself. I have a massive love of cinema. The artform, the history, the potential, the challenges. Again it saved my life. If I feel a particular decision is just because of the principles underneath it are supported by the history of the movies than my passion of cinema pours out into that conviction. I do respect Jim and simultaneously grasp his shortcomings. Having said all that, the one person dictating an idea and executing it despite anything else into reality is so central to motion pictures it is that belief I’m defending NOT James Cameron. He’s just the beneficiary of a larger debate that I happen to agree with him on in this case. On other issues? Like his message? I have SERIOUS issues with. On his ability to makes movies if he has the ability to make them? I can’t criticize on principle any moviemaker following their love down the Yellow Brick Road. Even a gigantic jerk like Cameron.

No. I’m trying to explain that this has nothing to do with James Cameron. As I said, I wouldn’t care if the budget was Kubrick’s or Wells’. It’s obscene. It’s disgusting. That sort of money should never, ever be spent in one go on anything but helping people in need, and charging $20 a ticket does not help people in need.

If James Cameron made this same movie on a smaller budget, I’d be all for it. I’d support it 100% despite not even caring for the original. I’d still go watch it just to see if it was better. But this? No. I won’t support it. It makes me sick.


I admire holding to yourself in a creative endeavor but any callousness or indifference to the audience by that filmmaker I can not respect. Ego is both life and death and the best artists can balance that equation. Others just will it into existence like Cameron.

Fair enough. I respect that. I agree it’s not about Cameron. It’s about the industry and where it’s heading. And frankly I don’t like what I see. I said at the top this is ongoing with or without Cameron and thus I argued Cameron is both symptom and its own insanity at once. Everything has inflated price wise. Production, talent, day to day cost. Technology magnifies this added to that someone wanting absolute perfection no matter the cost. Cameron is highlighting the problem through his own madness and it’s a trait that has existed since the infancy of film. I am unsure how this ends and I’m with you I’d like Hollywood to stop clutching Moonraker (1979) excess and fall back to Earth before it is too late. Sadly the inmates are running the asylum.

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Yes and no. SFX artists often get paid terribly despite these high budgets, including this film. Which is another reason I won’t support these billion dollar budgets. But I think we’re at an ‘agree to disagree’ point here.

Edit: Cameron is not at fault for the low pay. I am not suggesting he is.

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I would second that Squid. My point was nothing is getting cheaper despite certain considerations not moving with the rest of it. Lots of inefficiency, complacency, group think, and chasing a trend over the cliff make all of it escalate fueled by replicating everything in a computer screen which is the monetary equivalent of lighting money on fire. My feel is all this weight and mass of production is suffocating and a liability to movies going forward. And with that, we’ll have to agree to disagree as you say.

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Like, production budgets are usually estimates, since they don’t always publicize that information. But even the high end of the spectrum only puts this film at somewhere around $460 million. Which makes way more sense. This seems to be a case of the media taking hyperbole and running it as hard fact…again.

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Exactly. The other 500 million is the matching advertising budget which I feel is a bit much in these high profile cases. Hollywood consistently doubles investment with commercial buys in these big profile productions. Also I wonder if some of Avatar 3 is baked into the production cost as well. And this is important Avatar 2 is now profitable and in the black. It walked the tightrope and survived.

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A few brain spinning articles on the how film budgeting works

I thought about going out to this today because for me Cameron is a visceral, see it in the theater type - speaking for myself, he’s not really made for the small screen. But I decided against it.

I will add my 2 cents and say that aside from Terminator, none, not Aliens or T2 or Titanic, have ever been better on a second, third, etc, viewing. He’s pure spectacle and revisits expose the hollowness of his pictures, the flimsiness of whatever message he’s banging on our heads. They only get worse for me with repeated viewings (again, Terminator being the exception, the first still holds up)

And that’s okay, not everything has to be timeless. Being an ‘of the moment, big screen event maker’ is fine.

I’ll eventually get to this, but on disc or stream, not the big screen (I watch all of Oscars best picture nominees). I have such an aversion to being in crowds these days, that I thought, “If I’m going to go out and sit next to strangers, it’ll be for the new Kore-eda movie.” And you know what I think would be cool, is if filmmakers like that saw billion-dollar box office receipts too.

Yeah, I know, like that’ll happen, but I can dream (“Broker was the #1 box office draw, surpassing Avatar 2 this weekend…” :wink:


Getting better on subsequent viewings is a pretty high bar. So few movies do that, I can only think of a handful that I’ve thought did that.

As for getting worse when watched again, not sure I’ve ever felt that way about a movie, outside of the handful that ticked up a notch the way I felt about a movie during the first viewing usually remains the same when watched again.

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It happens with movies that don’t offer much more than the initial jolt. I have this thrill, if you will, coming out of the theater, but on a rewatch, I see that there’s just not much meat on them bones.

On the other hand, there are movies that are like peeling an onion, they have layers upon layers - I read a scene one way on a first watch, then discovered there was more to it on a second… The Power of the Dog is a recent example of that.

But yeah, probably the majority of rewatches stay the course.

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Funny how experiences are different. For me, The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), True Lies (1994), and Titanic (1977) are indeed better on a second, third, tenth, twentieth viewing, and beyond. It is so apparent to me it is the most salient takeaway of watching any Cameron film. I don’t see any hollowness in his pictures on repeat viewings. You are right on his messaging. It is there but only in Avatar (2009) do I feel it detracts from the takeaway and makes it difficult to enjoy the whole. The rest of his earlier catalogue is infinitely viewable for me and my friends. Taste I guess and what we each look for.

This is so true. It’s WHY I love motion pictures and the medium. The capacity to stay in the mind and defy expectations and interpretation even after you’ve seen it. There are many forms of this. Like genres of movies, there are viewers who are susceptible and prone to particular kinds of subtext and subtleties while others are immune. Sociopolitical commentary, narrative complexity, showmanship, balance of elements, execution, characterization, or even a mixture of these. I personally so love the form that I respond to many of these things even in films others dismiss. Rocky II (1979) is certainly no Rocky (1976) but is it a literate, thoughtful, well put together continuation story with heart and heft? I think so. We won’t all agree but there is a special alchemy to narrative and how it affects each of us. I find there’s a lot there in so many pictures and I adore cinema so much I try to see everything. Thanks for your expertise sir. I appreciate it.

Cameron’s kind of like a candy bar, sweet at first, but there’s a lot of empty calories. :wink:

But seriously, I don’t mean to say I went from love to hate on them… Aliens and T2 are still decent flicks, but I’m just not as high on them as I was. They’re good though.

The one that I did go from joy to disappointment was Independence Day, which is not Cameron, but was really like a candy bar. Man did I leave the theater just thrilled with that thing, couldn’t wait to see it again, but when I did, this slow disappointment started to settle in, and by the end I was like, “well, why did I like that so much? It’s not… very good”

Rifftrax then covered it, so at least it was repurposed and now it gives me the giggles. ”Wow, after seeing that I no longer fear hell” – Bill

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Roland Emmerich is VERY MUCH what you’re talking about. The Empty Calories and Bluster of Blockbluster Entertainment. He’s a wrecking ball in his productions. Going here, there, and everywhere, he doesn’t explore character as he does incidence and choreography. Having said that, Independence Day (1996) is a film I watch every Fourth of July and I think it’s The Towering Inferno (1974) of the 90s. Brassy, sassy, and a vehicular humdinger, the crassness of it works for the film it is trying to make and the cast they assembled and the novelty they captured while making it gives it something that for me never leads to disappointment because I know what it is and strangely I enjoy it because of the conviction brought to it. This quality doesn’t exist in Emmerich’s post 2000 work and everything after The Patriot (2000) reeks with what you’re describing devoid of anything to save it. Candy is a good analogy. And some of us have a higher tolerance for it than others. One man’s junk is another man’s something. I’m glad you can enjoy it with riffing. It’s why I love what MST birthed. It gives us options.

I guess my high level of cynicism doesn’t let me get too caught up in the moment and love a movie that doesn’t have depth to it, if that thrill happens for me it’s got to be a really good movie.

Been trying to think of a movie I liked at first but got worse and I can only think of one, The Dark Knight (2008), I didn’t love it like so many did but I thought it was pretty good on first view, second viewing my opinion dropped quite a bit, and I don’t think I’ve ever made it through the entire thing a 3rd time.

Back to Avatar, looks like I’m not going to see it in the theater like I was sort of thinking of doing, I’ll probably pick up the 4K disc when it comes out, my screen at home with a 4K disc has a way better picture than any of the theaters within a half hour drive of my house. Also I can control the volume of the surround system so it doesn’t hurt my ears. And I do want to see the special effects they put in this movie at some point.

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Hmm, curious… I have whole films years that haven’t aged well. When I revisited 1991 for my blog, I was taken aback on how many movies did not hold up… not necessarily gone totally bad, but not the masterpieces I thought they were when I first saw them.

Conversely there were movies I disliked as a teen, that I came to treasure in my old age, Barry Lyndon, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller from the 70s are two examples of that.

And the Dark Knight, yeah that’s like a yo-yo, sometimes I love it, sometimes I can’t even finish it.

Guess I’m the wind, baby!

Well, as far as movie opinions go.