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Avatar: Cameron's New Frontier

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 27, 2009 at 7:28AM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Production , In Production, Franchises, Directors, James Cameron, Avatar, VFX


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.