On this day ten years ago, the top grossing film worldwide (until July 20 of this year) made its debut.
Over at the dearly departed Dissolve, Nathan Rabin recalls a sentiment we shared a decade ago:
Over the course of my 18 years of professionally writing about film, I have been wrong countless times. But I have seldom been more wrong than when I saw James Cameron’s Avatar and told my companions, “Holy shit! That is easily going to be the biggest flop of all time! What kind of audience could there possibly be for a lumbering, heavy-handed anti-war allegory about the spiritual superiority of giant blue outer-space Native Americans over war-mongering jarhead Neanderthals, starring Sam Worthington? That’s a disaster in the making.”
If that prognostication proved anything, it’s that you don’t bet against James Cameron.
A huge factor in its record breaking take, though, was how heavily it was promoted that you needed to see it in IMAX and in 3D. This meant that, even if you had one of those fancy 3D TVs at home, you would still not be able to replicate the experience in theaters. People showed up for the spectacle and to be immersed in the magical world of Pandora. Reportedly, the experience was so good that some people just couldn’t live in a world where Pandora didn’t exist.
There’s a lot to criticize about Avatar. A lot of online ink has already been spilled chronicling its shortfalls. However, I shall attempt to stick to the positive. Avatar was in the middle of a trend where you simply had to go watch films in 3D. Rather than dismissing this trend outright, I’m going to go ahead and say that a lot of movies actually do benefit from 3D. I winced when that needle comes straight out at you in Coraline. I felt that Guardians of the Galaxy never felt quite so thrilling than seeing depth in the colorful comic book world it created.
Today’s bonus prompt: Was was your favorite 3D theater-going experience?
Get your Best Films of 2018 and 2019 ready for this week’s nominations phase!