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February 3, 2010

Why "Titanic" is better than "Avatar"

A real post? Don't worry, it still has to do with awards...

So I've been trying to figure out why "Avatar" has been doing so well at the box office. I mean, it is a great film. But why? Why is it about to break the all-time box office record, previously set by "Titanic" in 1997?

Hype: "Titanic" is a movie like no other. Everyone and their mother (literally) has seen it. When it hit theaters, those young and old went to see it. A film that spans all age demographics is impressive, and I can't say I know of any other film that has done this. "Avatar" sure has a lot of hype, but I can assure you my grandmother isn't going to see it. Now to achieve this box office record, "Titanic" was in theaters for months longer than most films. In fact, I've read that it was re-released into some theaters after awards season, and it came out on video while it was still out in theaters. That's the kind of demand it had.

Award Recognition: "Titanic" was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, and it won 11 of them. Both of these are records that have yet to be broken by any film. "Avatar" can never beat this, as it was only nominated for 9. "Titanic" won every technical award (minus Best Makeup), Best Picture, and Best Director, and it was nominated for two acting awards, including Best Actress (Kate Winslet) and Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Stuart...the old lady). "Avatar" has been nominated for its technical categories, which it clearly has earned, and Best Director and Best Picture. No acting awards.

So why are James Cameron's movies so technically advanced?:
Because he goes over budget. "Titanic" was the most expensive movie ever made in the 20th century. Its budget was $200 million. Whatever went over the studio's original budget (a lot), Cameron paid out of his own pocket. He wanted to make "Avatar" in 1999, but the special effects he wanted would have cost an astounding $400 million. So he waited. Now, its estimated budget was $280 million. But where did all that money go? "Titanic" was filmed on a ship. Much of this ship was a giant set built for the film. It cost more than the actual Titanic did. They built a set and recreated a historic tragedy. "Avatar" is 60% CGI. Cameron spent so much time directing the background and the imaginary planet that he didn't focus enough time on the characters or the story. Some of the characters are very one-dimensional and many argue that the overall plot itself rips off of environmentally-conscious kid's films like "Pocahontas" and "Fern Gully." Sure, he wrote both films, and he had a lot of historical basis for "Titanic," but the heart of the story, which was Jack and Rose's love affair, was fictitious. A great piece of believable, entertaining fiction. "Avatar" is a sci-fi action film with political/environmental undertones. Smart? Maybe a little. But still, it's not "Titanic," and I don't think it deserves the Best Picture nom its received, not to mention the Golden Globe for Best Picture: Drama that it won.

So there you have it. James Cameron's two most successful films, matched side by side, and everyone knows the clear winner. So let's let inflation and 3D prices take the top of the list, it doesn't mean it's any better of a movie. I mean seriously, try to explain to me how "Avatar" is better than "The Dark Knight." That's can't.

"I'll never let go..."

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