AVATAR'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY

DOES ANYONE STILL GIVE A SHIT?

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
15th December 2019

It was a mere decade ago that cinema-going audiences were subject to quite visceral reactions in their local multiplex. They vomited because the 3D was too much. They vomited because this magical world they were witnessing wasn't actually real. They became frustrated because they couldn't see what all the fuss was about, and they cried because they were a part of the 20% of the population that couldn't actually see 3D. I am, of course, talking about 'Avatar' - or to quote the marketing campaign, James Cameron's 'Avatar'. After the film's global domination, breaking box office records as fast as they could make them, Cameron left us wanting... and then he just left us. 10 years of missed deadlines and broken promises for sequels has left me - and I can only assume most people - weary and cold. How much longer do we have to wait? And more importantly, do we even give a shit anymore? A quick poll to #FilmTwitter gave me the expected answer: No. But that's just Twitter-centric film snobs (myself included), so what about the rest of the world?

A lot can happen in 10 years. 'Avatar's' star queen Zoe Saldana has moved on to bigger and better franchises - pipping her own film at the post when 'Avengers: Endgame' took over box office supremacy this year. And Sam Worthington, the great white hope, has made a series of questionable career choices before his personal life became the better headline and he faded away into No-one Caresville. Even the maestro James Cameron, who once declared that the rest of his time here on in this realm was going to be solely dedicated to the 'Avatar' sequels, strayed from his own path to flog a dead horse with 'Terminator: Dark Fate' and write 'Alita: Battle Angel' - decisions which proved that he no longer has the Midas touch... assuming he actually had it in the first place.

'AVATAR' TRAILER

The last few years has proved that in the world of entertainment that nothing is really dead, finished or over. Late 2010s has been the age of revivals. TV shows and cinema franchises have been reborn with varying success both critically and commercially. Okay, let's face it, none have been a runaway hit, with few receiving box office snaps and little else. So where does this leave 'Avatar'? Back in 2009, we begged and pleaded for a sequel. We weren't done with Jake Sully, Neytiri and the Na'vi tribe. But mega-budgets, script delays and Cameron's insistence on making films with technology that doesn't even exist yet has created setback after setback. The latest in the trials and tribulations of 'Avatar' was the recent Disney/Fox merger, but once those fears were put to rest, we faced yet another release delay when 'Avatar 2' was pushed back from it's December 2020 date to December 2021... for now. Having our hearts broken one too many times has taught us not to get our hopes up.

With a sequel to be released every second December between 2021-2027, one can't help but wonder: Will we get 'Avatar' fatigue? MCU fatigue was allegedly a thing recently, but that was just the haters speaking. 'Avengers: Endgame' (MCU's 22nd film) banked US$2,797,800,564 in ticket sales. For those playing at home, that's $74,944,081 more than its predecessor - suggesting the Twitter speak was all BS. But here's the difference: the MCU was unrelenting for 10 years. 'Avatar' came, stuck around for a well-above average time and then pissed off, only to be heard from again in Variety and Hollywood Reporter headlines. It doesn't have the zeitgeist stranglehold that the MCU, DCEU, Star Wars, Star Trek and similar franchises have. So it's possible 'Avatar' will return with a vengeance and make the two years we have to wait between instalments total agony. Or it could fall flat on its face and Disney will weep as its investment gets flushed down the toilet... until it remembers that it owns every-bloody-thing else and will prevail.

By the time the 17th December 2021 rolls around, 4,383 days would have passed between the first ‘Avatar’ being released and its long-awaited sequel.

By the time the 17th December 2021 rolls around, 4,383 days would have passed between the first 'Avatar' being released and its long-awaited sequel. Will it break pre-sale records? Currently being held by other Disney property 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'. Will it be released in 3D? Dear god, I hope not. 3D is so dead - reserved only for limited gimmick releases and 4D theatres. Will anyone even care? Think about it; the kids who saw the first film in 2009 are now adults. The adults who saw it are now parents and/or have mortgages and are time- and cash-poor. And the rest are dead. Too far? My point is, 'Avatar' doesn't have the nostalgia factor of, say, a 'Toy Story', nor the grip of favourites like an 'Oceans' heist film. 'Avatar' came, went and was left to fizzle out due to a lack of forward planning and the world of technology's inability to keep up with James Cameron's maniacal brain. So as we sit here and reminisce about the last ten years, freak out about the fact that 10 years ago wasn't the 90s and ponder the future we can look to these certainties: 'Avatar' happened. We loved it (at the time), and it will enter our lives once again. What happens when it does, only time will tell.

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