Guardian: Why Avatar Day could be James Cameron’s smartest move

July 31, 2009 – 11:55 am

The UK’s Guardian speculates on James Cameron’s strategy with “Avatar Day” where fans can see 15 minutes of Avatar for free at their local IMAX theater:

Waving, not drowning … James Cameron at a panel discussion on Avatar at Comic-Con 2009. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

James Cameron seems like a man seldom troubled by self-doubt. Every time he’s nudged the movie industry forward with films such as Terminator 2 or Titanic – or women’s rights back with films like True Lies – he’s done so with a swaggering, cocksure, king-of-the-world confidence. And rightly so, you might say, given his track record.

However, if he’s not careful, Cameron’s swagger might start being mistaken for a full-body nervous tic. Ever since he announced Avatar, a film he’s been prepping for 14 years, anticipation has been building steadily. Thanks to the technical specs – it was filmed with 3D virtual cameras using groundbreaking photorealistic motion-capture animation technology – and the paucity of information or footage released, fans have been greedily lapping up whatever scraps they can get. And when those scraps include Jon Favreau calling it “the future” of film-making, that’s setting an expectation that even James Cameron might find difficult to meet.

And that might just explain Avatar Day. First, it will give James Cameron the luxury of allowing the film footage to be seen in a way that does the movie justice, rather than just allowing a tiny trailer to be leaked on to YouTube. Presumably Avatar Day will also serve as a wake-up call to cinema chains, showing them that digital 3D won’t simply be a gimmicky flash in the pan and giving them four months to convert and allow them to share the rewards that Avatar will offer.

But maybe Avatar Day is also meant to consciously dampen expectations, too. At the moment, following the frothing, celebratory 25-minute Comic-Con preview, the public at large would be forgiven for thinking that Avatar is not just a quantum leap forward in terms of film-making, but also the dawn of a new chapter in the history of mankind.

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