Monday, December 21, 2009

Cameron talks about AVATAR: says two sequels are possible, it's not anti-human, it's about aspiring to be better than we are

CAMERONThe film is definitely not anti-American. It’s not anti-human either. My perception of the film is that the N’avi represent that sort of aspirational part of ourselves that wants to be better, that wants to respect nature. And the humans in the movie represent the more venal versions of ourselves, the banality of evil that comes with corporate decisions that are made out of remove of the consequences.

SHOOT: Looking forward to more.
Zoë Saldana as Neytiri and Sam Worthington as Jake in “Avatar.”

In the New York Times article that John Anderson wrote on “Avatar,” you joked about doing a sequel based on the positive feelings you had about an early December screening. If you did make a sequel, where would you want to take this story?

I’m not going to give out any story scoops now. I have a story mapped out that actually spans two films. Not in the sense that you’d do a film that ends in the middle, like the typical second-act trilogy problem, but I have enough story arc to cover two more films. And if we do make some money and I talk to Fox and they want to move ahead with a sequel, then I’ll sit down and write something. And you and I can talk again!

When you wrote the film in 1995 and decided that technology wasn’t at a place where you could make it, what specifically did you feel like you couldn’t do at that time?

The big issue was the scale of it.
From left, Sigourney Weaver, Joel Moore, James Cameron and Sam Worthington on the set of Mr. Cameron's “Avatar.”
Zoe Saldana plays the warrior Neytiri in “Avatar.”
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Barry Ronge's Review of AVATAR: It is one of the most beautifully imagined and created movies we have seen in years.

SHOOT: Funny when we emerged out of the press screening I said to Barry, 'Do you think the release of this movie was timed to coincide with the climate conference in Copenhagen?' He seemed doubtful, since, he said, they started the movie 3-4 years prior. But he made the same comment in his review.
“Avatar” is a thundering, adjective-defying, marvel of a film, so visually rich and acutely topical that you really have to see it twice. The 3D imagery is so natural and so seamlessly woven into the story, that you hardly notice it, which shows you just how well this special effect has been integrated into the narrative. The story is based on a shrewd and provocative inversion of a traditional science-fiction template - the “alien invasion”. It has been a staple of science-fiction movies for the last sixty years but in “Avatar”, Cameron turns that idea on its head.
That is not only an interesting inversion of a classic sci-fi format, it is also highly topical. It’s no accident that this film was released at the same time as the 2008 Copenhagen Climate Change conference was still in session. The themes of “Avatar” resonate powerfully and specifically with the goals and aspirations of those environmentalists, who are trying to set a new ecological time-table for planet Earth.
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Snow denies AVATAR record grosses, for now

Although “Avatar” made its debut in 3,452 theaters in North America, movies of similar scope have historically opened in even more theaters, and that smaller number may have held back ticket sales. There is also evidence that a shortage of 3-D theaters depressed opening results. Fox had hoped to have hundreds of additional 3-D locations available, but the credit crunch and industry squabbling has delayed technology upgrades.

Audiences seem to have swallowed Fox’s message that this is a film that should be seen in 3-D. Imax theaters — 179 in North America and 58 overseas — broke sales records, with every theater selling out. One signal of how “Avatar” could perform going forward: One Imax theater in London has already sold $1 million worth of tickets, $800,000 of which is for the weeks ahead.

SHOOT: I'll be watching AVATAR for the 3rd time this week. That puts it on a par or better than Dark Knight.
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The movie will need to demonstrate supernatural hold on audiences in the coming weeks to avoid becoming a financial calamity for Fox and its financing partners, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners. “Avatar” ended up costing around $310 million to produce (although tax credits will shave about $30 million off that bill) and an estimated $150 million to market.

Overseas “Avatar” opened in 106 countries, selling an additional $159.2 million in tickets for a worldwide gross of $232.2 million, Mr. Aronson said.

Tom Rothman, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said in an interview, “We believe, especially given that women worldwide responded so strongly, that this is just the start.”

Given the cost, glowing critical reviews and Mr. Cameron’s “Titanic” résumé — not to mention that the 60 percent of the theaters playing the film were charging an additional $3 to $5 for 3-D presentation — analysts expected “Avatar” to sail past previous December behemoths.

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AVATAR: Interesting 'White Guilt' Interpretation

SHOOT: As I say, I find this interpretation [see below] interesting. But I think if you're seeing racist overtones in AVATAR you must be a very sad person, because the far greater message is one of resurrecting our humanity, of re-connecting with each other, and the environment.
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Avatar is a classic scenario you’ve seen in Hollywood epics from Dances With Wolves, Dune, District 9 and The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member.

A white man who was one of the oppressors switches sides at the last minute, assimilating into the alien culture and becoming its savior.
These are movies about white guilt. Our main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color – their cultures, their habitats, and their populations.

The whites realize this when they begin to assimilate into the “alien” cultures and see things from a new perspective. To purge their overwhelming sense of guilt, they switch sides, become “race traitors,” and fight against their old comrades. But then they go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mandela in INVICTUS provides an example of the leadership needed in Copenhagen

Mandela and Pienaar could have so easily lost. However the nations who dare to transform their fossil fuel based economies into sustainable renewable energy economies first will almost certainly gain a lot.

Mandela would have known the right answer. We should hope that the world leaders that will be coming together in Copenhagen later this week will find some of his inspiration for their talks and meetings.

Fear of revolutionary change is the motivating factor behind widespread resistance to renewable energy.

SHOOT: Great article, very true.
It is a beautiful film with Morgan Freeman (Mandela) and Matt Damon (François Pienaar). And it's a lesson in statesmanship. As Freeman says in the film to his angry black supporters who don't understand why he wants to keep the Springboks (and Mandela might have well said the same): "You elected me to lead you. Now let me lead you". Mandela withstood vested interests and built a new nation.
That's exactly what government leaders around the world now need to do as well in response to the challenge posed by global warming: withstand vested interests and build new clean energy economies. It is hard to expect the oil industry with all its related political interests to easily and happily join in the transformation of the economy.
However politicians representing the interests of the people at large should, like Mandela, point the way and make the shift to clean energy happen. Their "gamble" is hardly as risky as Mandela's was.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

'Avatar' star Sigourney Weaver as queen of sci-fi: 'Outer space has been good to me' [UPDATED]

She will be sitting down in the weeks to come to watch all of “Alien” films as part of the process of recording commentary for the upcoming Blu-ray release of the four-film franchise.

“I’ve never done that, watched all of them in a row,” Weaver said. “I just recently made my [19-year-old] daughter watch them. She had never seen them before, believe it or not. I think she just prefers to think of me as good ol’ mom, you know, not some person running around a spaceship with a flamethrower.”

SHOOT: I recently watched all the 'Alien' movies in a row. Awesome franchise.
Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver, with a chuckle, says she will never grow tired of space travel. “I’m always up for going to another planet,” the three-time Oscar nominee said. “Outer space has been good to me.”

This is the 30th anniversary of Weaver’s career breakthrough with her role as Ellen Ripley in the first “Alien” film. But far from resting on her laurels, the 60-year-old actress is again on extraterrestrial active duty with “Avatar,” the James Cameron sci-fi epic that opens Dec. 18.

Weaver plays botanist Grace Augustine, who is mentoring a brash young marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in the beautiful but treacherous jungles of Pandora, an inhabited moon that humans hope to conquer for its natural resources. Weaver is the biggest name in the cast and was thrilled to reunite with Cameron, who directed her in “Aliens,” her 1986 reprise of the Ripley role.

“It’s absolutely my favorite fan base,” Weaver said. “I love those guys.”

Galaxy Quest
Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3
"Avatar": Like "Matrix," it opens doorways
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sigourney Weaver Interview: "Just relax and let your mind go blank," she tells him, then adds with withering nonchalance: "It shouldn't be hard for you."

This is the Weaver they know and love: spikey, brittle, intelligent, the Weaver who could take on the universe's most dangerous alien and live to make the sequel.

SHOOT: She's an original with a lot of rebellious, but sensible energy. The world could do with a lot more Sigourneys.
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Sigourney Weaver

One of the first things that people think about when the name Sigourney Weaver pops into conversation, along with her braininess and patrician elegance, is her height. You only have to think of the scene in Infamous when she dances with Toby Jones playing Truman Capote, in which his head reaches somewhere around her navel.

Then there's the story about how she acquired her name. She was christened Susan, but when she was 14 she decided it didn't suit a person like her who was 6ft tall in her shoes. So she seized on the name Sigourney, having spotted it in The Great Gatsby. Sigourney seemed to her to be long and curvy: much more appropriate for someone her size.

She smiles in affirmation. "And I haven't got parts in conventional love stories because of my height."

The upside of such blatant discrimination is that the directors she has worked with, she says, have all been what she describes as "wild men. And I'm very grateful for that."

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