Avatar has been declared the “future of movies” and it may be – though perhaps not quite in the way Hollywood thinks. Barely a month after launch it has generated more than $2bn in ticket sales, becoming the top-grossing film of all time. Its popularity is almost entirely down to the amazing 3-D special effects rather than a compelling plot or a roster of bankable stars, since it has neither of those. Is this the point where, once-and-for-all, technology overtakes talent as the driver of box office success? Pixar’s animated features, after all, have already shown the way. And since technology tends to get cheaper every year, while movie stars don’t, perhaps this signals a shift in the industry that puts power and profits back into the hands of the studios. This is not true of Avatar itself, of course. Reputedly, director James Cameron stands to make even more ($400m) than News Corp’s Fox ($300m), as shown in yesterday’s results. But as 3-D effects become commonplace, studio’s won’t need a James Cameron behind the camera every time.
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