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Will "Avatar" Change Filmmaking?

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James Cameron's longtime film project Avatar hits cinemas next Friday. Conceived more than 14 years ago, the film's vision was too advanced for technologies at the time. After several special effects advancements created specifically for the film, Avatar's hybrid of live-action shots and computer-generated characters and environments finally came together.

However, these advancements didn't come cheap; the film is estimated to have cost more than $300 million. News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWS  ) subsidiary Twentieth Century Fox is distributing the film, and expects to spend more than $150 million in marketing. Despite the massive funding being poured into the film, The Wall Street Journal reports that interest in the film has proven uneven.

"Market research suggests mixed levels of interest among potential audiences for the extravagant 3-D sci-fi picture "Avatar," raising the stakes for the backers of one of the most expensive movies ever made."

If Avatar doesn't meet expectations, will other studios such as Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) , or GE's (NYSE: GE  ) NBC Universal become more risk-averse toward blockbuster films? If the film succeeds, will it lead to a broader adoption of 3-D cinema techniques from these rival studios?

Since the WSJ article was published, a stream of generally positive reviews have started surfacing on the film, which should boost its interest level and long-term box office. My opinion is that the film will succeed and recoup development costs, and that 3-D cinema could provide a reason for consumers to once again head back to the cinema.

However, we want to hear from our readers. Will you be seeing Avatar, and do you think the film could lead to a greater adoption of 3-D cinema? Which companies stand to benefit the most? Drop a comment in the area below!

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation and also a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy thinks James Cameron hit his peak when he directed Vinny Chase in Aquaman.

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 12:03 PM, caltex1nomad wrote:

    It will take a lot of Redbox rentals to recoup the cost of this film.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 1:27 PM, LoneWolf888 wrote:

    Excuse me but " a reason for consumers to head back to the cinema" ? In cae you missed it, and you apparently have missed it, the movie industry had its best year ever in 2009, and that is without Xmas blockbusters released as yet. The industry will do approx $ 11 billion dollars in '09, a record .. Please before you go public, at least have a modicum of facts at hand. "Phoned in" little blurbs like this do not enhance your stature.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 2:08 PM, dudemonkey wrote:

    I'll go see it, but then again I'm a nerd so this kind of stuff is like catnip.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 3:18 PM, TMFRhino wrote:


    I'm aware that the industry will record record revenues (Kind of a BoxOfficeMojo junkie ;)), but I don't believe that figure captures the underlying situation.

    Point is, we can all pick apart phrases with different facts, but entertainment has been shifting to the home for a long time.

    For example, backing out ticket price inflation would give a different revenue result. I don't disagree that the cinema's have had a great year, but attendence isn't exactly booming. 1.18 billion people saw a movie in 1982; that's not a figure that's drastically different than today despite many more screens.

    The point I was making is that 3D cinema could give consumers an added reasoning to go to the movies instead of watching a flick at home. I think that's a reasonable comment to make.


    Eric Bleeker (TMFRhino)

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 3:34 PM, TMFDitty wrote:

    $450 million -- it seems inconceivable that 20CF could ever recoup these costs (and if it fails to, you can bet this tech will get put right back on the shelf).

    That said, I remember how before Titanic came out and we all gasped at the size of that price tag ($150M back then, which would be close to $200M in 2009 dollars). It turned into a massive success regardless.

    Moral: Don't bet against Cameron.


  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 3:52 PM, pimponpatrol wrote:

    This is going to be very interesting to watch unfold. Normally I would say News Corp is out of their mind to spend so much on a movie of this nature. However, this Christmas season has little to offer in the way of movies or competition for Avatar. Furthermore, it's a well known fact that the box office does best during a recession. People wanting to escape the realities of life will pour into cinemas.

    Ultimately, Avatar's success will depend on whether or not people like the movie. Like many of it's failed sci-fi predecessors, Avatar could host the greatest spectacle of modern CGI, and still fail miserably because the story is bad.

  • Report this Comment On December 13, 2009, at 4:11 PM, leaony wrote:

    I believe will change filmmaking forever, and big part of this thanks to IMAX, read the article here

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