Soapbox

Avatar


Friday, August 27th marks the date of James Cameron’s “Avatar” being re-released in theaters nationwide. The film boasts 9 minutes of footage that was cut from the original theatrical release last December. If you’re scoring at home, that’s a 5.5% increase in runtime over the 162 minutes that throngs of people spent inside a dark room after plunking down 3D ticket money in the hopes of being transported to a mystical world where giant Smurfs reenact “Ferngully”, with a little “Dances with Wolves” thrown in, and a squeeze of “Aliens” to perk things up.

Now, as one can read in my original review, I liked the film. Sure, it has problems in the script area but it’s a fun sci-fi project that gets even better if you watch it with Rifftrax. But I understand that a lot of people were just dying to see a huge spectacle on the big screen, especially because it was vying to be the best 3D experience audiences had ever seen (I could argue about that but it’s in the original review already).

However, I disagree strongly with the awards attention the film received, outside of the technical fields, as the plot is essentially a retread and the script is often laughable (the profitable ore they want to obtain is called “unobtainium”. Really? REALLY?!?), but I wasn’t surprised to see the highest grossing film of all time snag a number of nominations. Though, I would be surprised if anyone wanted to argue that if it had tanked at the box office, 90% of those nominations would never have happened.

In any case, the issue at hand is my annoyance at the film being re-released. Adding in some of the cut footage should be a bonus people get to watch on DVD or Blu-Ray; it makes shelling out an additional $20 to $30 that much more palatable. Yes, because of the scale of the effects, “Avatar” is best enjoyed on the big screen. However, if you’ve already seen it in theaters (and judging by its gross, you probably have), I’m sure that 50″ LCD will work just fine for a second or third viewing (and if you’ve already purchased the DVD/Blu-Ray, just wait a while and you can spend even more money on the 3D version eventually … isn’t that great?!)

A film like “E.T.” gets re-released in theaters because of its 25 year anniversary, not just to squeeze some more money out of people’s pockets, but also to allow new generations of film goers to experience the film in theaters. If I were a parent, it would have been a very fun way to spend an afternoon with my child.

“Avatar” came out 8 months ago. 8 months! The number of people for whom 8 months of maturity only now allows them the opportunity to see the film in theaters is a ridiculously small subset.

James Cameron said in an interview on the G4 network that the 9 minutes of footage being restored were cut because they weren’t sure audiences could handle that much 3D all at once. Going back to my math, what real significance does an extra 5.5% matter? Is there some scientific evidence, like with the rational behind limiting Little League baseball players to a certain number of pitches they can throw in order to protect their arms from significant damage? If so, please tell me.

No, what’s going on here is simply a gouging of audiences – a test to see just how many people will continue to fork over their money. If Cameron had announced that the tickets for the re-release were half price or could be used towards the purchase of the DVD/Blu-ray, then I could see some sort of benevolence. As it stands, I hope audiences prove that they can’t be led around by a pied piper, and instead, spend their movie ticket dollars elsewhere. Otherwise, this might spark a trend that takes theater space away from smaller features trying to grab whatever market share is possible, in favor of the big bully on the block simply looking to take your lunch money.