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James Cameron's Avatar: five years on
By SP_COP on April 30, 2014 | From www.denofgeek.com
James Cameron's Avatar: five years on Five years after James Cameron's Avatar appeared in cinemas, we look back at its hype, its critical backlash, and how it holds up today...

Before 1960, director Michael Powell was one of the UKís most respected directors, with a string of acclaimed films to his name, among them A Matter Of Life Or Death, The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. Then Powell made Peeping Tom, and the critical backlash ruined him.

An intimate character study of a serial killer made at a time when such things were entirely out of the ordinary in British cinema, Peeping Tom was savaged by UK film critics, and it took a full decade for Powellís film to be reappraised; the likes of Martin Scorsese and Robert Ebert championed Peeping Tom, but their admiration arrived entirely too late to save Powellís filmmaking career, which was never the same after 1960.

Cinema history is littered with films like Peeping Tom: pieces of work initially dismissed or treated with outright disdain, but later admired by a growing coterie of movie lovers. But canít the reverse also happen? Canít a film come out to a warm critical reception and record-breaking box office numbers, but then suffer something of a backlash afterwards? To a certain degree, this is exactly what happened to James Cameronís Avatar.

For many years, the only thing most film geeks knew about Avatar was that it was a science fiction film, and that it would cost a lot of money to make. James Cameron was already talking about Avatar in interviews back in 1996, before the release of Titanic. But dark clouds were forming around Cameronís epic drama set aboard the infamously doomed ocean liner. There was talk of a spiralling budget and an imminent box office disaster.

As it turned out, the soothsayers of Hollywood were wrong: Titanic was stratospherically successful, so much so that it managed to make its eye-watering $200m budget ten times over, and win an entire cabinet full of Oscars in the process. Cameron, already a respected figure in Hollywood, was now a force to be reckoned with.

The directorís success on Titanic gave him the creative latitude to bide his time on Avatar as few filmmakers had been allowed before. Where directors would have been hectored by their studios to get a film finished and in cinemas, Cameron spent years, off and on, working with CGI experts at effects studio Digital Domain on a proof-of-concept video. Avatar was originally pencilled in for a release in the late 90s; the proof-of-concept video didnít emerge until 2005, and its creation cost 20th Century Fox a reported $10m....
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