James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ was the highest-grossing movie of all time (NOT adjusted for inflation) for many years, but this year it was dethroned by ‘Avengers: Endgame’… just barely. But Cameron took it in stride and posted a congratulatory message on social media and has spoken favorably of ‘Avengers’ and its success in interviews. Could it be because Cameron sees this reign as being short-lived? Why yes, in fact, that is his belief. Cameron is confident that when the first ‘Avatar’ sequel is released in December 2021, it will become the new highest-grossing movie of all time.
He told USA Today:
“I think it’s a certainty. But let’s give ‘Endgame’ their moment and let’s celebrate that people are going to the movie theater.”
The first ‘Avatar’ came out ten years ago and was a phenomenon. Audiences worldwide flocked to see Cameron’s innovative picture, especially in 3D, to be emersed in this artificial CGI wonderland, the likes of which no one had ever seen. In addition to riding the wave of cinematic 3D, Cameron utilized motion capture technology to transform stars like Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington into aliens who were still able to emote as computer-generated… er, avatars, in a way that had never been done before.
In contrast, before ‘Avatar’ became the highest-grossing movie ever, that title belonged to Cameron’s ‘Titanic’, another movie that utilized cutting edge digital effects, but in a subtle way that could barely be noticed. Yet that picture is still very much a beloved classic to this day because it was all about the story. Yes, the film climaxes in a massive action sequence, but it’s the love story at its center that embedded itself in the hearts and minds of viewers. ‘Avatar’ doesn’t have that.
And tastes have changed in the last 10 years. The biggest is that the whole 3D thing wound up essentially being a fad. Some people still like it, but it is no longer viewed as the way you HAVE to see a movie in order to get the most out of it. And while motion capture has improved, it’s also become incredibly common.
Cameron recently produced the flop ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’, which employed the once-eye-popping CGI morphing technology that he pioneered in ‘The Abyss’ and ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ in the’80s. Back then, audiences lost their minds over this tech because they’d never seen anything like it. But ‘Dark Fate’ didn’t offer anything new in the technology category, and it retread the same exact plot of every single ‘Terminator’ movie, so audiences stayed away in droves.
But who knows? Disney now owns 20th Century Fox, so it will be releasing the ‘Avatar’ sequels. If there’s one thing that Disney knows, it’s marketing. If they really get behind these movies, they could wind up being massively successful. (And I am pretty sure they will break records in China because it seems that all they care about is CGI dazzle.) But the new highest-grossing movie of all time? I just don’t see it.
Feel free to chime in in the comments section below. Do you think audiences are still jonesing for new ‘Avatar’ movies?