Friday, January 15, 2010

The Avatar Effect

This effect of the advent of Avatar the movie comes under unintended consequences.  The second item was much more predictable.  That is the establishment of a mass market for 3D spectacle films.  I wonder if it is possible to redo Ben Hur?


The holodeck of Star Trek is at least a generation away, but this will certainly do in the meantime.  Of course, spectacle will overwhelm plot.  Who wants to take a chance on that when hundreds of millions are been spent?


I am pleased to understand that both the trilogy and the Star Wars cycle can be upgraded to this format at what is presently a nominal cost.  In fact, it proclaims that no film of consequence is likely to be without it here on in.


I imagine most fail to remember or properly understand just how revolutionary the advent of Star Wars was on the film industry.  Before it, the artistic types shunned science fiction when it was obvious to informed fans that the genre was a gold mine of visual possibilities.  Yet when I sat down back then to a 12.30 am preview of Star Wars, my expectations were low and I braced myself to be forgiving.  Instead, the film worked and completely exceeded what imagination could have expected.  I walked out knowing the industry had changed forever.


This revolution in visual presentation continues in Avatar unabated, although we are now finding the edges of the possibilities.  The human imagination can be beautifully expressed in a glorious 3D format to its limits.


And yes, the movies are about visual story telling, and plots are merely a necessary skeleton to hang the pictures.  There was a time they were used to hang word imagery.  Let us hope that we soon hang holograms.


The Avatar Effect


China's moviegoers see a story about private property, not race.


Hollywood blockbusters aren't usually notable for their artistic or political subtlety. And James Cameron's latest sci-fi hit, "Avatar," would seem to be no exception, going by the lament of some critics that the film's impressive special effects are undercut by a skimpy story line and flat dialogue.
That, however, is not how many Chinese see the film, which tells the story of rapacious humans trying to evict the blue-skinned natives of the planet Pandora in order to extract some exceedingly valuable mineral. This is standard politically correct fare for a Western audience, conveying a message of racial sensitivity and environmental awareness. In China, however, it has more rebellious undertones.
That's because Chinese local governments in cahoots with developers have become infamous for forcibly seeking to evict residents from their homes with little compensation and often without their consent. The holdouts are known as "nail households," since their homes are sometimes left stranded in the middle of busy construction sites. More often, however, they are driven away by paid thugs. Private property is one of the most sensitive issues in the country today, and "Avatar" has given the resisters a shot in the arm.
Even in Hong Kong, the "Avatar" banner has been taken up by antigovernment activists trying to defeat a plan to demolish a village to make way for a new high-speed railway line. One mysterious benefactor reportedly donated movie tickets to the villagers to stoke their enthusiasm for protests.
We suspect that neither Mr. Cameron nor 20th Century Fox (a sister company to this newspaper) had any idea of the effect their movie would have on the other side of the world. But then such flukes are one of the wonderful things about globalization, confounding those who lament its supposedly homogenizing effects on culture.

Future Movies and Old Movies Will Be in 3D and Imax

Bobby Jaffe, the chairman Legend Films (3D movie conversion company) - 3D conversion mostly suits action films, such as Top Gun or The Matrix, but Avatar proved it’s best to use the technology to immerse the audience in the story rather than throw things at them. This is the new, more sophisticated era of 3-D. 

University of Southern California reported that after seeing a 3-D film in the cinema in 2009, 40% of people would prefer to watch television in 3-D, too.

Studio executives are drawing up schedules of popular films that will be “retro-fitted” with 3-D technology after the science fiction blockbuster. Experts now predict that 3-D will become the new multiplex standard within five years.

Retro-fitting a screen classic with 3-D imagery could take as little as four months, using software to manipulate a digital copy of the film.

Last week technicians at Weta, the production company that had worked on the trilogy, said they had experimented with 3-D battle scenes and proclaimed them to be “gob-smacking”.

The Lord of the Rings is expected to be re-released after Jackson has finished producing the two-part version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit over the next two years. This would mean that a 3-D version of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of the trilogy, could be in cinemas by Christmas 2012.

It may be beaten to the screen by a revamped version of Star Wars. George Lucas, the director, spent $13m filming the original in 1976, added special effects in 1997 and 2004, and will now spend another $10m to change it into a 3-D spectacular.

Wired has a list of movies that they would like to see getting a 3D upgrade. However, I think all action blockbusters will get remade into 3D and it will just be question of where the cutoff is for people being willing to make a trip to the theater to see a re-release.

The IMAX version of "Avatar" has pulled in more than $60 million at the box office, about 15% of the movie's overall $420 million take in the U.S. so far. Still, IMAX appears to have room to grow -- the IMAX version of "Avatar" plays on only 5% of the total screens showing the movie.

3-D TV coming soon to your living room, that's why more films may be made especially with IMAX in mind. So instead of making a movie and deciding to show it in 3-D on IMAX as an afterthought, IMAX technology will be part of the original vision and plan for the film.

"If you can create a spectacle, they will come, as we have no doubt seen with 'Avatar'," Bock said.

As of September 30, 2009, there were 403 IMAX theatres (280 commercial, 123 institutional) operating in 44 countries.

Expect a faster expansion of Imax theaters with double the current number or more by 2015.

No comments: