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David Poland

By David Poland

Idiotic Trend Story #277 (this year)

Steven Zeitchik, the LA Times’ movie reporter least likely to get a fact straight, came up with a laughable story, “With ‘Avatar’ struggling, is the bloom off the rerelease rose?

Uh, Stevie… what re-release rose?

Grease Sing-Along… this year’s only studio re-release before Avatar… just over $300,000.

Even the Toy Storys, 15 and 11 years old, in digital and 3D for the first time, in anticipation of TS3… just over $30m domestic last fall.

Are we still living with the excitement of Star Wars being re-released 13 years ago, when there had been almost no availability for the title over the 20 years since it was released? That was the same year they re-released The Godfather and it did $1.3 million.

Is it The Exorcist, about 10 years ago, being re-released after 30 years with new footage? That was the same year they re-released Blood Simple and Rear Window and did $1.5m and $1.7m each.

It’s a remarkable reach to turn a positive into a negative, writing that Avatar, “grossed only about $4 million despite playing on more than 800 screens.” Didn’t seem to think it was worth mentioning that it was the 3rd biggest per-screen, with or without the 3D bump, behind only the two brand new hits.

Of course, the piece is mostly onanism. Stevie doesn’t forget about The Godfather. “When “The Godfather” came out in 1997 after being away from theaters for 25 years, it felt like an event; no matter how well we remembered the movie or how many times we watched it on basic cable, seeing it on the big screen brought memories for those lucky enough to catch it there the first time and created that experience for those who weren’t.”

So you get it now? If Steven likes the movie, $1.3 million is An Event… even if the studio saw it as massively disappointing in the reflection of Star Wars’ $128 million. But if Stevie doesn’t like the movie, a $4 million first weekend is a “struggle.”

Who is editing this guy? Glenn Beck?

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74 Responses to “Idiotic Trend Story #277 (this year)”

  1. IOv2 says:

    1) Re-releasing AVATAR is just stupid.

    2) Even with the 3D bump, that’s a decent weekend for a film that sold a lot of DVDs and BDs.

    3) So yeah, this guy, is a bit wacky and I could easily do a better job for the Times than this goof.

  2. Foamy Squirrel says:

    It depends on how much it cost for the rerelease – something like “Star Wars” there was an excessive amount of new post-prod, not to mention additional P&A, which would have cut into the new box office a fair bit (out of interest, how much DID old George Lucas spend rereleasing the original trilogy?). Something like “Grease Sing-a-Long”, not so much.

    $4mil for Avatar:SE’s weekend is still respectable, and I’m guessing they probably had the extra 9mins “in the can”, as it were, so the re-release is pretty much “free money”. Considering Fox’s only other wide release out there is “Vampires Suck”, it’s a fairly smart move.

  3. It’s funny, I wrote on Sunday about how Bill O’Reilly (of all people) decried the pundits who make stuff up in order to justify writing about popular entertainment, in that he was speaking about how Zeitchick chalked up the success of The Expendables to its (non-existent) jingoism and right-wing ‘patriotism’ (ie – nationalism, but no one gets that right anymore). Nevermind that Zeitchick hadn’t seen the film and misquoted the trailer. The irony is that in doing so, O’Reilly himself committed a cardinal such sin, taking Zeitchick’s false commentary as proof of a ‘trend’, so that he could get Stallone to come on ‘the Factor’ to rebut it.

  4. EdHavens says:

    Since the Avatar re-release was done almost all DLP, save a handful of IMAX 15/70 houses, the costs doing the re-release were likely quite modest.

    As for Mr. Zeitchik… yeah, mental masturbation is about the best thing one can call this mess of an article. As typical with old-media entertainment reporting today, the reporter came up with a trend of one and ran with it, misreporting or outright lying about the numbers to support his supposition. For example, the 1997 re-release of The Godfather earned not $1.3M but $770K during its modest seven week, forty print run.

    However, The Godfather did do $5,748 per screen that opening weekend in March 1997, when ticket prices were about 35% less expensive, so in just that one sense, The Godfather’s re-release is more impressive than Avatar. But then, I doubt Paramount could have put The Godfather out in to 812 theatres, in 1997 or 2010 or any time, and seen a $4M gross, so it’s all moot anyway.

  5. mutinyco says:

    This is unrelated to anything except the name of the blog. But it’s so fucking hot in NYC right now I could literally feel the sidewalk cooking my feet through my soles.

  6. Telemachos says:

    Yeah, it’s a really stupid article. I almost posted in the comments at the Times, then figured, what’s really the point?

    From the tone of the article, you’d think the studios had been rolling in the cash bonanza of all these modern and classic re-releases that’ve been appearing in theaters for the last few years. Seriously, who writes this shit? I expect at least basic familiarity with Hollywood for an LA Times blog.

  7. RSS feed not updating says:

    Just FYI this post and the last one are not showing up in your Hot Blog RSS feed. If there’s a new feed to follow please link to it on the main THB page or something.

  8. Nicol D says:

    Jim Cameron gave some really pissy interviews last winter when Avatar got the boot from 3D and IMAX theatres for Alice in Wonderland. He said that the word they got back from distributors was that they probably left a couple hundred million on the table.

    Do you think Jim Cameron is happy with a four million re-release gross and 11th place finish for the weekend?

    Yay Mark Canton for putting this insufferable blowhard in his place.

  9. Jeff McM says:

    Looking at the numbers, Avatar did take a decent hit the weekend that Alice in Wonderland opened, so it’s possible that they might have lost maybe $50 million. But I say, when you’ve made the two highest-grossing movies of all time, whining about something like that just shows what a petty cock you are. Also, if your movie is dependent on the gimmick of 3D, maybe Cameron should have spend a little extra time/money on a better screenplay, so people would come for something beyond visual spectacle?
    I also have a problem with Cameron complaining about Piranha’s use of 3D, claiming that they’re making the technology look bad. This is coming from a filmmaker who made a film based primarily in visual spectacle, complaining about another film doing the exact same thing, but with blood and gore. Why are these mega-millionaires so insecure?

  10. The problem with the 3D Piranha had nothing to do with its gimmicky deployment, it was with its terrible after-filming execution. It was like looking through a ViewMaster on acid.

  11. Foamy Squirrel says:

    That’s typically how they become mega-millionaires in the first place – by pushing for their side of the agenda so that other people make room for them.

    Also, the screenplay/visual spectacle thing is pure speculation on your behalf. The data is overwhelmingly in favor of the argument that the screenplay wasn’t lacking, and there’s nothing to suggest that diverting resource on “a better screenplay” would have resulted in a single extra dollar.

  12. IOv3 says:

    I am testing something but what Jeff wrote above… priceless.

  13. IOv3 says:

    Ha! Worked. AWESOME! Still no dang edit button, David. YOU ARE TEARING ME APART! I AM SICK OF THIS WORLD!

  14. Nicol D says:

    Jeff McM,

    I do not think you have ever written a post that I can agree with as much.

    Cameron is talented. He has made some of my favourite films (Aliens, T2)…but I was glad that Canton said what I suspect many are thinking but afraid to.

  15. Jeff McM says:

    Foamy, I will tell you for a fact that if Avatar had a better screenplay, I would have seen it another time or two and bought the Blu-Ray. There’s fifty extra dollars right there!!!

    As much as I appreciate anyone in Hollywood actually saying what they think instead of pussyfooting around and being passive-aggressive, Canton lost me when he got to:
    “The enjoyment and the immersion of an audience in a movie theater… as audiences are experiencing with PIRNAHA 3D now, comes from the originality and the vision of the filmmaker”.

    Basically, what Canton said ends up being not really a statement of principled disagreement as much as it is a prickly defense of a lame movie.

  16. Foamy Squirrel says:

    But the screenplay was already plenty fine for some 150million people. By making it “better” for your specific tastes to win your extra $50, they might have lost a million people plunking down their $10.

    Besides, “a better screenplay” doesn’t come for free – there’s time, money, impact on the visual spectacle, impact on the audio tone, actors’ ability to maximize the script etc. Sometimes it’s better to say “The script’s not perfect, but we’ve got other things that are currently more important”.

  17. Jeff McM says:

    Well obviously this is a discussion that is purely theoretical, but I would still contend that if, let’s say, Cameron had been willing to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars on an extra draft or two in order to flesh out the characters, improve the dialogue, and provide nuance to the political rhetoric, the movie could have made tens, if not hundreds, of millions more. I mean, the primary criticism that just about everybody had for the movie was ‘the screenplay’s not that great’. Imagine if it was?

    Also, ‘plenty fine for 150 million people’ is debatable. I saw the movie twice in theaters, but I was still disappointed by the screenplay and would have seen it more times (as I did with Titanic) if the screenplay was better. I can’t imagine I’m the only one. This is close to the ‘McDonald’s sells 100 million hamburgers a day, so why should any other restaurant bother making them any other way?’ argument.

    Plus, Cameron was working on the movie for a decade+. It seems reasonable that given that timeframe a movie could have a tightly locked-down script well in advance of any casting/previs/whatever.

  18. Foamy Squirrel says:

    “the primary criticism that just about everybody had for the movie was ‘the screenplay’s not that great”

    …and yet it was nominated for a WGA screenwriters award. Apparently his peers thought the screenplay was just fine too.

    The problem is that the point of contention wasn’t “why should anyone else make them any other way?” it was “if the screenplay was better, Avatar would have made more money”. Better according to whom? The critical consensus for “better screenplays” is all over the place when it comes to financial success – for every nomination of Avatar, The Hangover, or Up you also have The Messenger, In The Loop, or The Hurt Locker. Those were all fine movies, but examples of “better screenplay = more money” they were not.

    McDonald’s hamburgers are pretty much perfect for selling 100million per day all over the world. They may not be the “best tasting” burger, but they’re the best for the job that they do – making billions of dollars. Like Avatar’s script was fit for purpose.

  19. IOv3 says:

    150 million people? Uh no. 82 percent Foamicus! 82 percent gross from 3D. That in no way translate to that many people. Nevertheless, Avatar is what it is but Cameron throwing anyone under the bus when both of his PHENOMS were as flukish as flukes get, is just hokey. It’s like the man does not realize how lucky he’s been.

  20. Foamy Squirrel says:

    2.75billion dollars / 150million = $18 per ticket.

    Those numbers are all pretty ballpark.

  21. cadavra says:

    Given the moronic tastes of most moviegoers today, I daresay a smarter, better screenplay would’ve probably had a negative effect on repeat business. “Dude, did you understand all those big words? Y’know, the ones with, like, two syllables?” “Dude, what’s a syllable?”

  22. Jeff McM says:

    The WGA Awards are irrelevant to the point that I’m making (plus, they gave awards to Slumdog Millionaire, Crash, and plenty of other screenplays of questionable quality).

    And to answer your question “Better according to whom”, I’m sure that consensus could be found among most filmgoers on elements of Avatar’s screenplay that could be improved. Obviously, such an undertaking would be absurdly difficult, but I don’t think it would be impossible.

    And if the standard we’re holding Avatar to is ‘being good enough to get the job done’, then yeah, I can’t argue that Cameron didn’t NEED to have worked harder on the screenplay in order to make $2.7 billion, but I still contend that he COULD have made even more by making a relatively small investment in an extra writer/draft/etc. It’s not a point that I can prove, and it’s not a point that you can disprove. It’s a conjecture.

    And re: Cadavra, I don’t think ‘better’ even necessarily means ‘more literate’ or whatever. Cameron’s other screenplays, in general, are all more creative and complex than Avatar. I would contend that Avatar is Cameron’s most by-the-numbers, give-them-what-they-want, condescending screenplay of his career.

  23. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I think there’s certainly a market for smarter films – Christopher Nolan has shown that you don’t have to play to the lowest common denominator to be successful – but in general it appears to only have marginal overlap with blockbuster films, and trying to force one into the other may not have the desired results.

    It’s like golf vs. football – golf is about as simple as they come when it comes to rules, and football (in all the various US/European/Australian guises) tends towards the more complicated. Football, on the whole, tends to be more financially successful than golf, but if you tried to change golf’s rules you’d probably end up losing a lot of golf fans without attracting football fans. They’re both sports played with balls, but they should be treated differently – just like different segments of the film market should be treated differently.

  24. IOv3 says:

    Yes, they fit in perfectly in a steroid ballpark! Again, it’s an inflated film and Foamy, that’s an accepted stat no to many moviegoers. I am no longer the lone crazy one because apparently there are millions of people who agree with me.

    Again, if your gross is up to the 82 percent range in terms of bumpage, that sort of diminishes attendance.

  25. IOv3 says:

    What the dude said above me, right on the money.

    That alone sort of makes me think in a real broad sense about Avatar’s shelf life. Yeah it’s the biggest film ever but come on, it’s not Inception. It’s not that smartly written and that has to catch up to it at some point.

  26. Jeff McM says:

    Let me just backtrack a bit and say that I do still half-like Avatar – I don’t hate it with the power of a thousand suns, like I believe IOI does. And I’m talking about very small changes that could have garnered fairly big returns, if Cameron had wanted to go that route.

    But yeah: what the movie has going for it is spectacle and amazing special effects. In fifty years, those will have been surpassed. Does anybody today give a crap about movies that were miracles of visual effects of their day like Young Sherlock Holmes or Dragonheart or Twister?

  27. Jeff McM says:

    Saying that the two highest-grossing movies of all time were ‘flukes’ is a pretty silly thing to say, IOI. It makes sense to argue that, let’s say, David Yates will never make a movie as high-grossing as any of the Harry Potters for the rest of his career, or that Return of the Jedi was a fluke in Richard Marquand’s body of work. But when you also have multiple other hits and megahits on your resume…I’m sorry, I just got too bored to go on because it’s such a ridiculous thing to have to rebut.

  28. leahnz says:

    “what the movie has going for it is spectacle and amazing special effects. In fifty years, those will have been surpassed. Does anybody today give a crap about movies that were miracles of visual effects of their day like Young Sherlock Holmes or Dragonheart or Twister?”

    what the movie has going for it? sorry, but perhaps you should speak for yourself rather than generalising. i find avatar rewarding far past just a visual experience, and i know MANY people besides me who also find it emotionally and spiritually engaging and compelling.

    avatar is a fairy tale told primary with visual imagery, it’s an archetypal parable, a simple environmental/native peoples fable about the power of love written exactly how it was intended by the guy that wrote it. presuming it should be something other than what it is is absurd. the screenplay is well structured, really rather interesting in how reality shifts from being primarily the human world laced with the dreamworld to reality as primarily the dreamworld as the human realm falls away and becomes alien. there are long, quiet, beautiful contemplative/meditative spells. the villains are intentionally one dimensional, just like those in a the old animated disney tales; the protagonist characters are well developed and benefit from the bulk of the screen time. the dialogue is what it is, i think it’s funny and endearing and snarky and silly, if you don’t well then bummer for you. dialogue does not a screenplay make. the film OBVIOUSLY isn’t trying for political nuance or conflicted characters; the primary conflict resides in jake for him to resolve, the rest is good and bad, black and white, with secondary characters resolving their own conflicted arcs in some way (trudi, tsutey, norm, even selfridge in a minimal way), the SE has a bit more in this vein. if people don’t like it, fine. here’s a tip: don’t watch the bloody thing. maybe write your own movie and stop whinging endlessly. christ.

    (and i really like inception but it’s a bunch of gobbledygook. pretending it’s some paragon of writing excellence is nonsense)

  29. Foamy Squirrel says:

    “i really like inception but it’s a bunch of gobbledygook”

    In the opening scene, I got the impression that JGL was working to overcome some of the script’s weaknesses – the bit where Leo waffles about dreams to Watanabe, and JGL gives him this look and says “What he means is…”. Considering the rest of the film is played fairly straight with Leo handling the exposition with Ellen Page, it seemed slightly out of place, like the actors themselves found the dialogue too cheesy and had to find a reading which made sense to them.

  30. leahnz says:

    yeah…(actually i’ve seen it twice but only vaguely recall that bit foamy so i’ll take your word for it, you seem to know what you’re on about)

    in terms of how ‘inception’ is written, it’s dense and extremely wordy but this does not equate to well-written. i actually think the movie could have benefited from a clean-up/streamlining effort in both the writing and the editing, it’s a bit of a messy bastard in places.

  31. Al E Ase says:

    Cameron developed Avatar for a decade. He’s proven time and again that he knows his way around telling a story, which implies that he knows what a good screenplay is. Therefore Avatar’s screenplay is most probably EXACTLY what he wanted it to be, as is the film. Arguing that the screenplay was lacking seems… foolish in the face of the film’s success. If anything, I’d argue that the man is a genius, insofar as he seemingly got the whole world (just kidding v3) to actively participate in this massive event. Would a denser, leaner, more intellectual script have done the job? Perhaps. But the man wanted to make a populist movie, and as Leah says, he went for archetypes. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Especially as the movie… you know… works.

    Having said that I personally think that IO would’ve had a point if there weren’t two sequels in the works. Because the film is a bit on the simple side, perhaps as future films caught up with it visually it would have lost rewatchability. I don’t know- I’ve seen it twice in theatres and I’m not in a rush to revisit it. However, I strongly believe that Cameron must be aware of the nitpicks about his script and is intent on delivering better the next time around. If he successfully builds on the mythology of Avatar-(think Empire)- the firs film retroactively takes on depth.

  32. leahnz says:

    “He’s proven time and again that he knows his way around telling a story, which implies that he knows what a good screenplay is. Therefore Avatar’s screenplay is most probably EXACTLY what he wanted it to be, as is the film.”

    yes, my point exactly

  33. leahnz says:

    io, simple math:

    avatar @ 80% DOMESTIC ticket sales from 3D tickets sales (this is the stat, not 80% of the gross is from the 3D surcharge, which is completely nonsensical)

    total gross (rounded up to) 750mil

    80% of 750 mil = 600 mil from sales of 3D tickets

    600 mil x 25% 3D surcharge (the average quoted in several sources) = 150 mil total revenue from 3D surcharge

    750 mil – 150 mil 3D surcharge revenue = 600 mil gross, no 3D.

    that still makes avatar on par w/titanic and way past TKD as the top domestic grosser without any 3D bump whatsoever. live with it.

  34. Jeff McM says:

    Well, based on what I saw on the screen, he got lazy and decided to focus on technology over story. My opinion.
    And I haven’t been advocating for ‘more intellectual’ or ‘denser’. I’m saying that there are simple things that could be improved, like 1. Giving Michelle Rodriguez’s character more to do, 2. Allowing the tension between Jake and Tsu-Tey to develop properly (as it is, it feels truncated and obligatory), 3. Having Jake actually feel conflicted about choosing between the Earth people and the Na’vi instead of it being such a simple, obvious choice for him.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Cameron is an outstanding filmmaker. But just because he made the first two Terminators and Aliens doesn’t mean I give him a pass on this screenplay – indeed, since I know what he’s capable of, it makes the contrast even more glaring. When I saw the movie for the first time, I was excited and amped because, hey, new James Cameron movie! And then as the movie happened I felt a growing sense of disappointment that hasn’t gone away.

  35. Jeff McM says:

    I really don’t see how all of you can insist that Avatar is a perfect movie with absolutely nothing to improve.

  36. Merkin Muffley says:

    I always figured the screenplay for Avatar was simplistic because Cameron’s intent was to make a movie for THE WORLD not just us ENGLISH speakers.

    The story is built simple enough to be understood through the visuals alone and Most of the dialog is easily translatable and likely retained its intended meaning, no matter the language.
    (the only line specifically tailored to our pop culture that I can think of was the “your not in Kansas anymore” line)

    If that was his intent, I think its safe to say it worked out.

  37. IOv3 says:

    You can make movies for the WORLD and have them not be crappy. Case and Point… CHRIS NOLAN!

  38. IOv3 says:

    All of that right there you mention, other people did it better and did not need 3D or SPECTACLE to make it happen. Again, Dances with Wolves exist and it has an Oscar attached to it forever. Responding the way you do about Avatar is great and all but come one, Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas are still available on DVD and that alone lessens to a lot of people anything involved with Avatar.

    Your response to Inception ignores a lot but you have picked a side and that’s apparently that.

  39. leahnz says:

    ftr i never said avatar is a perfect movie with absolutely nothing to improve (i actually think the new scenes in the SE add nicely to the story in simple ways), my position is that cameron wrote the screenplay and made the eco-fable he wanted to make, which obviously is not the eco-fable that YOU wanted him to make, which is too bad but doesn’t mean that he got lazy, that’s a rather bizarre conclusion to draw.

    re: trudi and tsu-tey (is that how you spell it?), more character development would have been nice but they are secondary players and when unlimited time is not a luxury you have, you have to decide where to focus time and energy (tsu-tey’s arc in the SE is better). how this prevents you from enjoying the movie seems odd, but to each her own.

    as for this: “Having Jake actually feel conflicted about choosing between the Earth people and the Na’vi instead of it being such a simple, obvious choice for him.” what? i just can’t feel you there at all. within the framework of the film jake spends a great deal of it conflicted and confused about his choices re: infiltrating and spying on the navi, going back and forth, using grace’s programme to get his legs back, wanting to please quarritch, wanting to please neytiri (with whom he HAS legs and can FLY around on dragons to boot); his confusion is palpable, he even says out loud at one point, “what am i doing?” and goes back to quarritch shaved and marined-up to finish his mission and get the navi to relocate. i honestly don’t see how you can say jake’s decision is simple and obvious to him, his conflict is one thing the movie does well. it sounds like you haven’t watched it very carefully. his decision to BECOME a navi is ultimately made because he falls in love with neytiri and wants to be with her in her world where he is whole, not really much of a stretch or overly-simplistic; after fighting against the mercenary humans who set out to completely destroy the navi by destroying the tree of souls, his feelings of allegiance to the humans are quite understandably quashed.

  40. leahnz says:

    i’ve picked no ‘sides’, io, because i’m not 12

    and i know enough about film to realise ‘dances with wolves’ is no more original that ‘avatar’ as variations on the hero’s journey told since year dot

  41. leahnz says:

    what about the people who think ‘inception’ is crappy, io? and there are plenty.

  42. IOv3 says:

    Yeah those people are really up on the haps, Leah. Again, you picked a side and that side isn’t that good. I am glad that you can expand on a very vapid and shallow film in such a wonderfully verbose way, but that does not change that the film has great FX and that’s it. It’s an empty suit of a film. We disagree but it’s not like it’s the end of the world thing.

  43. IOv3 says:

    If I had a freaking EDIT button like David promised, I could edit NOT REALLY UP ON THE HAPS. Can I do that? Uh no, BECAUSE THERE’S STILL NO FREAKIN EDIT BUTTON AND THAT IS TEARING ME APART!

  44. leahnz says:

    perhaps you shouldn’t state your opinion as fact, io, then you would sound less like a jackass. you can be annoying as fuck.

    and i’ll repeat from above:

    i’ve picked no ‘sides’ because i’m not 12. you are pretty much the only one compelled to ‘pick sides’ around here like a child who must inexplicably pit one movie against the other (it is possible to like more than one movie), or a person betting on a sporting contest instead of discussing flicks.

    and like i also said before, i know enough about film to realise ‘dances with wolves’ is no more original that ‘avatar’, as variations on the hero’s journey told since year dot. that you don’t understand this speaks volumes.

    in conclusion, sorry to break it to you but ‘inception’ – a movie i happen to like – could easily be described as vapid and “an empty suit” with great fx and that’s it. see, it’s all up to interpretation and individual taste.

    (i’d also remind you that after you actually saw ‘avatar’ you clearly stated that you didn’t hate it and thought neytiri was a decent screen heroine; your subsequent bout of convincing yourself you despise it passionately is bizarre and done mostly for blog effect, i suspect)

  45. cadavra says:


  46. Al E Ase says:

    “I always figured the screenplay for Avatar was simplistic because Cameron’s intent was to make a movie for THE WORLD not just us ENGLISH speakers.

    The story is built simple enough to be understood through the visuals alone and Most of the dialog is easily translatable and likely retained its intended meaning, no matter the language.”

    Exactly what I wanted to say but better, tanks Merkin.

    As for Inception, it’s doing real good and that’s a fantastic thing, but it’s nowhere near Avatar business. I’m just going to go ahead and venture that Cameron was aiming at his Titanic record with the big blues, ie really the whole wide world. You can argue that Inception was smart entertainment that appealed to a lot of people, but I suspect that Avatar’s success was as much due to it’s amazing visuals (3d whadduuup????!!!) as to it’s universal appeal. Yes it’s Dances With Wolves. Yes it’s Pocahontas. But it’s also many, many, MANY other timeless and universal stories.

    Finally, congrats on the new moniker IO. What happened to v2? I seem to recall that it was a nod to the initial darker IO1, so what’s the story?

  47. Jeff McM says:

    Cadavra, I think you have those >’s backwards.

    Leah: “it sounds like you haven’t watched it very carefully”
    Really? If that’s your position we’re not going to get anywhere. All that can really be said is that we’ll have to agree to disagree. And yeah, I don’t doubt that Cameron ‘made the movie he wanted to make’ but I also contend that that’s because the movie he wanted to make was an exercise in technology and spectacle that would exceed his past box office benchmarks. So congrats to him for getting there, and regrets to him for not having ‘making the best film he could make’ as his goal.

  48. Monco says:

    Well, I’m going to pick a side and I’m certainly not 12: Inception is a MUCH better movie than Avatar.

    Leah, to say the editing of Inception is a negative of the film is baffling. The editing is the best thing about it. It’s what makes it interesting and so rewarding upon multiple viewings. The way Nolan has used editing in all of his movies is fascinating to watch. When you watch his filmography it’s clear that he has been experimenting and building toward something. That something is Inception. Nolan made a better science fiction movie than Cameron after just one year. In twenty years Inception will be remembered more than Avatar.

  49. Foamy Squirrel says:

    The point is that “better” is subjective – you may have enjoyed Inception more than Avatar, does that make it “better”? Even accounting for 3D price hikes, around twice as many people paid to see Avatar than Inception, does that make it “better”? Inception had a more tightly plotted script than, say, Duck Soup, does that make it “better”? How about The Cove?

    Given that the wayside of film history is littered with forgotten Best Picture winners and blockbuster hits for their year, I think anyone would be wary of proclaiming which film is likely to be more remembered in 20 years’ time.

  50. IOv3 says:

    Again Leah, it’s called a DECLARATIVE STATEMENT and also it is a fact: Inception is a better movie than Avatar. You also have picked a side. You have been pro-Avatar before it’s release and have remained a staunch support of this film up unto the time you posted above. What most fascinates me about you is this: you think you are above it all and that’s what makes this blog fascinating. You think you are all up in the clouds, when you are down in the dirt, and the strongest Avatar fan out of all of us.

    Two more things: I still like Neytiri but the movie just pissed me off the more I thought about it Leah. I do nothing for effect. Everything I do, unlike some people who get all the flowers and laurels blown up their ass, is real.

    The more I thought about, the more I realized that it’s just a rip-off of Dances with Wolves (More on that in a second), and that it’s an empty CGI movie. The more it bugged me. It also has the WHITE MAN SAVING THE DAY and it’s well known, I hate it when the WHITEY SAVES THE DAY!

    Nevertheless, with Dances With Wolves, no, it’s not about THE HEROES JOURNEY. It’s about the SAME DAMN STORY BEING USED IN AVATAR! It’s DANCES WITH WOLVES IN SPACE! It’s also the Last Samurai and it’s derivative unlike Inception.

    AL: Let’s put Inception in 3D and see what happens. Again, Nolan unlike Cameron, puts his movies out during the Summers. He doesn’t need the weirdness of the WINTER to get his movies to BANK. The fact that the guy is almost to a BILLION DOLLARS with another film, when the last billion dollar films have been in 3D, speaks a lot to the awesome business Inception is doing.

    I also went to V3 because it’s a new blog and I want a Ramona Flowers avatar. SCOTT PILGRIM ALL UP IN YOUR GRILLS!

  51. IOv3 says:

    Sorry for unleashing the hounds up above but this week has sucked and I needed the feistiness to feel better. It really helped my conjestion.

  52. IOv3 says:

    “Even accounting for 3D price hikes, around twice as many people paid to see Avatar than Inception, does that make it ‘better’?”

    Foamy, come on, it had an 82 percent 3D bump and like Forbes or what not, came up with that number. If you have that much of a bump, it effects audience numbers, and that means as many people saw Transformers 2 as Avatar, and that’s even being generous.

    I commend you on getting your friend’s back but it’s a futile battle. Inception is better. It just is. You can bring up semantics all you want but in 20 years, Inception will play on TCM, and some kid will be blown away about it. While Avatar will just be another fx film that’s alright but nothing like Inception. Seriously, downplaying Inception and playing up Avatar, just goes against some carnal rule of movie fandom.

  53. Foamy Squirrel says:

    You’re misquoting the statistics. 82% of tickets sold in North America were for 3D sessions – worldwide that proportion was much lower.

    We’ve been over this before. Even if 100% of tickets were for 3D sessions, and those tickets were double the price of normal tickets, that’s still $1.35billion in “normal” tickets. A closer estimate (guesstimating actual ticket prices and worldwide 2D vs. 3D) tickets puts it almost at $2billion worth of “normal” tickets – around double that of Transformers 2.

  54. leahnz says:


    i like BOTH movies (avatar and inception), which i believe i’ve stated several times in this thread alone. if i haven’t made it clear: i like both movies. for different reasons.

    i played devil’s advocate to io’s usual nonsense wherein my opinion might be cute and all, but it’s wrong because he doesn’t agree, and one can’t possibly like TWO movies, because he doesn’t like one of them, naturally!

    also pointing out that inception is not a universally beloved masterpiece, and that charges of being all fx and no heart could be leveled at inception just as easily as avatar.

    so fuck all y’all (nah not really. but i must say avatar haters really are a miserable bunch of smug, persnickety, pretentious brow-beaters who apparently can’t stand the thought that just because they dislike the movie means it’s just ’empty spectacle!’. it’s funny because the first time i saw avatar, having been a little shocked at what it was – not what i was expecting at all – i knew there would be a LOT of dislike for it, and i wasn’t wrong. what is heartening is that there’s so much love for it, too, because it’s such a beautiful love letter to nature, a sweet, soaring, sad, thrilling, simple, fun, silly, relevant and spiritual fairytale love story that anyone can enjoy, any age or gender or nationality, a work of ART. anyone who thinks avatar was created by technicians has their head up their ass)

    and ftr: i know a LOT of people who think ‘inception’ is an overblown mess; they liked aspects of it but consider the movie as a whole a heady but dull misfire. and these are people that make movies for a living so it’s not like i’m out farming turnips and fell off the cart into a bunch of bumpkins with 3 teeth and an opinion, for the oh-so-pretentious. i don’t happen to agree with that assesment because i really like inception and think on the whole it works for what it is – interestingly designed and wonderfully visually labyrinthine in nature -but having said that it didn’t really make me feel ANYTHING. i didn’t give a shit about anybody in it, the only bit that was remotely emotionally compelling to me was cillian’s scene w/his dying dad, weirdly touching, while mal jumping off the building to her death made me feel squat doodle. babye, see ya around murderous tumour. the last scene where cobb sees his wee kids is an excellent opportunity to really hammer something emotionally compelling home in some way, but nolan chooses to keep it all at arm’s length, which says a lot, i think. when a movie doesn’t make me feel anything, that’s not good. but it doesn’t have to mean i don’t like it.

    as a piece of film-making inception is overwhelming and aspires to great things, achieving many, but certainly not all. after seeing it a second time and being able to asses it more carefully and critically, i don’t find it well-written – the dialogue and exposition are EXCESSIVE just for the sake of it, really, and bizarrely the few things that actually DO need to be explained more clearly aren’t. ‘show not tell’ is always something to aim for in film, as is ‘a simple story well told’. like i said before it’s just a bunch of gobbledygook – beautiful, convoluted gobbledygook – and i realised i was wasting my time trying to make sense of it because the maze doesn’t need to make sense, it’s an intentional loop, an exercise in messing with your head with an ambiguous exit (nice trick nolan, damn if it doesn’t make you think and in that respect the film succeeds brilliantly). but this is problematic in that all the noise and chatter and chaos leading back to the beginning of the story makes dropping an emotional anchor or infusing the movie with a beating heart almost impossible to achieve. yes, the visuals and vis. effects are on the whole interesting and inventive and effective, but anyone who thinks the movie is clean and crisp by way of good editing is delusional, sorry, that’s my opinion and it’s not just me. one example is the various completely useless and ridiculously long shootouts, so direly edited in places my boy could have done better, and why they must be SO long and fucking tedious is just a mystery. i don’t think nolan’s weird little james bond trips work in the context of the film at all, too random and without any context or nuance or basis, but — SPOILER — because i believe the entire story is a dream i think nolan thought he could get away with it, but he can’t, because he doesn’t have an innate talent for staging big action so that it’s compelling FOR SOME REASON, even within a dream scenario, so that it MATTERS. for as sophisticated as it aims to be, the movie is incongruously and surprising juvenile and aimless and dull in parts. i could go on and on, but i won’t bother because i don’t actually give a shit.

    know this: there are people who think avatar is as good a film as inception, or better. SHOCK HORROR! i know it’s hard for inception lovers/avatar haters to fathom but just because you hold an opinion and find like-minded people who share it, this doesn’t make your opinion a universal truism. thank goodness everybody is differnt, or the world would be incredibly dull.

    and here’s a thought, monco: in twenty years inception will be remembered more than avatar BY YOU, i think that’s safe to say. but by everybody? well, that’s complete conjecture and i submit such an opinion is based on the fact that you didn’t like avatar but you really dug inception, and thus the movie you love is going to be better remembered, naturally. not rocket science. as an example of film-making, inception is stylish and original but it has issues. if you’d kidded yourself into believing otherwise, that’s your prerogative. so it goes.

    jeff: a load of baseless assumptions but whatever, i can’t say i’m surprised or was expecting anything different.

  55. leahnz says:

    for io, AGAIN, from above: simple math

    avatar @ 80% DOMESTIC ticket sales from 3D tickets sales (this is the stat, not 80% of the gross is from the 3D surcharge, which is completely nonsensical)

    total gross (rounded up to) 750mil

    80% of 750 mil = 600 mil from sales of 3D tickets

    600 mil x 25% 3D surcharge (the average quoted in several sources) = 150 mil total revenue from 3D surcharge

    750 mil – 150 mil 3D surcharge revenue = 600 mil gross, no 3D.

    that still makes avatar on par w/titanic and way past TKD as the top domestic grosser without any 3D bump whatsoever. live with it.

  56. leahnz says:

    “i commend you on getting your friend’s back but it’s a futile battle. Inception is better. It just is. You can bring up semantics all you want but in 20 years, Inception will play on TCM, and some kid will be blown away about it. While Avatar will just be another fx film that’s alright but nothing like Inception. Seriously, downplaying Inception and playing up Avatar, just goes against some carnal rule of movie fandom.”

    stfu, moron

  57. IOv3 says:

    Seriously, you do get that once you have almost 3/4 of your gross attributed to 3D. It sort of means that not as many people saw your film as did TDK or even Transformers 2. The fact that both of you Avatar fans refuse to accept this, goes to show that you are fans, and will fight this to the bitter end. Me? Well, Inception, GAME, SET, MATCH, BOOYAH!

    Oh yeah, I will leave it at this: the only people I know who love Avatar, are people who love Matthew McConaughey films. People who love Inception, seem to love it because it means something more than USB… KATZ!

    If that’s the company you two want to keep then have it. Sucks for you.

    Usual nonsense? Look at the Raving Rabbid known as Leah strike again! Great post Leah, I would read it, if it were not covered in the usual AVATAR FAN INTERNET SLOBBER! Calm down. Matt will put his shirt on now.

  58. IOv3 says:

    Did I hurt you again? Awwwwwwwwwwwww. GET YOUR DAMN SLOBBER OFF OF MY INTERNET! YOU DAMN AVATAR FAN! USB… KATZ! Seriously, you are so easy to mess with that I reveille in it. I REVEILLE IN IT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! [takes off his sport coat and elbow drops it] WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  59. leahnz says:

    wow, you can’t really be that stupid, can you io?

    80% of domestic ticket sales for 3D shows means those ticket sales are subject to a 25% surcharge, about 150mil in surcharge US domestically. the entire 80% is not the 3D surcharge, you idiot. go back to school and then come back here. good god.

  60. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Okies you two, keep it civil – I don’t care who started it.

    IO – check your math. We’ve been over this before.
    Leah – I just got off the phone with Linda at Wingnut. Don’t make me ask her to “forget” your billing.

  61. Foamy Squirrel says:

    (Not that I could – that was the first time she’d heard of me… but it’s nice to dream 😉 )

  62. leahnz says:

    nurse ratched is on her way io, lithium is your friend!

  63. IOv3 says:

    INTRODUCING… THE JAWS OF DESTRUCTION! Ripping apart things since 2 minutes ago! They are sponsored by Pirelli Tires.

    “What is heartening is that there’s so much love for it,”

    Love? Love? So is that what we are referring to as misleading a group of people to the point that there entire existence is blown apart? Love? Nice rally at the end but those poor bastards still do not have their tree. Love. Psssssssssssh.

    “too, because it’s such a beautiful love letter to nature,”

    USB is found in nature now? Really? When did this happen and if so, can I stick the USB from a horse up my own ass and have it work? Oh yeah it’s through my hair or my tail but this is USB we are talking about here. Where else could it work but the ass? Underarm maybe? Let’s move it to there just to avoid any unease of use.

    “a sweet,”

    Burning that tree down was wicked sweet!


    I do like the score but who would not like SOARING up in the clouds with USB STUCK IN SOMETHING ELSE’S HEAD? THAT’S AWESOME! USB FOREVER!


    Yeah, the guy who should have been king but lost his woman and his kingdom to a NO ACCOUNT WHITE AHOLE, yeah, that is sad.


    Oh, she’s going to kill him with an arrow! Hold on, glowy things are flying by her now. THAT IS SO THRILLING!


    White guy saves the world is pretty simple.


    “I am flying on an animal with my usb dick up it’s ass. WOO! THIS IS FUN!”




    Wow everybody, we are in the future and we have displays used in MINORITY REPORT! OH MY GOD, THAT IS AMAZING!

    “and spiritual fairytale love story”

    Yes, because there is no spirituality to be found in service to one’s nation or one’s earth, because all soldier’s are instilled with this ridiculous leftist version of Vietnam soldiers, who only want to destroy and rape nature, and have no desire to conserve it. All they want is to destroy it and to kill anyone that gets in their way. Yeah. That’s really SPIRITUAL!

    “that anyone can enjoy,”

    If they get sucked in by the visuals. If not, they are stuck with a racist film, with ridiculous VIETNAM era solider archetypes, and a story where the only person capable of saving the day is not the very capable PRINCESS IN THE STORY, but the RANDOM ASS WHITE GUY WHO JUST SHOWED UP BECAUSE HE BROTHER RANDOMLY DIED OFF SCREEN! WOW! I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN!

    “any age or gender or nationality,”

    Especially if you are a little kid, this will be the film you talk to people about in college, and refer to it as “that film I started to hate once I realized there were better films in the world.” That does transcend age, gender, and nationality.

    “A work of ART.”

    A work of commerce first. If there is any art in this thing, it’s in the visuals but seeing as this is a MOVING PICTURE. I would hope there would be more stuff MOVING ABOUT IT THEN THE GOD DAMN FLOATING MOUNTAINS!

    “anyone who thinks avatar was created by technicians has their head up their ass)”

    Or can watch the FOX MOVIE CHANNEL and see how they made and how the whole thing goes on and on for 30 minutes about the TECHNICAL SIDE OF THINGS MORE THAN A STORY!

  64. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Look what you did – thunder and lightning outside now!

  65. IOv3 says:

    Leah, seeing as you are the wackiest asshole on this entire blog, I would imagine if anyone needed sedatives, it would be you… THE RAVING RABBID! Now bask in me once again taking something you love and beating it’s ass like it owed me money!

  66. IOv3 says:

    I did not mean to throw asshole in there but you love to refer to me as a moron, so consider us all squarsies.

  67. leahnz says:

    lol, holy shit!

  68. leahnz says:

    stfu, moron

  69. IOv3 says:

    Stop slobbering, asshole!

  70. Al E Ase says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you the first fight on the new Hot Blog!
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  71. palmtree says:

    I can’t believe I just wasted a good 10 minutes reading this thread. This is all I got:

    Avatar is a movie loved by many but hated passionately by a few.

    Inception is a movie loved by many but hated passionately by a few.

    Great. Next!

  72. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I’m going to swear off responding to IO because the last 2 threads have degenerated pretty quick, but the whole thing started as “Here’s what the biggest grossing movie of all time should have done so more people would come”. Really, it should have stopped right there.

  73. IOv3 says:

    Again, you are a lying instigator of a poster and that’s through your own admission. If you want to swear me off, go right ahead, because all you have ever done is instigate in every thread time and time again.

  74. Nice site dude, Ive been looking for some information for my own site and I found your site through a link on another site I was looking at. Was interested so thought id comment.

    Look forward to seeing more

The Hot Blog

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon