James Cameron's 'Avatar': How much hype is too much?

Avatar-james-cameron_l To be clear right up top: We at Entertainment Weekly were not present at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam to see James Cameron's unveiling of 24 minutes of footage from Avatar, his latest film that will change the world. So we can't speak to it's relative crap-my-pants awesomeness. Though, by reading the online reports from those who did see the 3-D presentation, Avatar will, indeed, fill your pantaloons.

I've no problem with Avatar being awesome. James Cameron is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time — I think his Aliens is the perfect action movie — and I want nothing more than for his story of a bloody culture clash on the idyllic planet Pandora to be phenomenal. I just have a problem when the hype machine gets to work so early, and so hard, that it inflates our expectations to a point where they could never possibly be met.

Besides, it's impossible to judge a film by less than a half hour of footage. A few years ago, some of us got to see the first act of The Island, that Michael Bay-directed sci-fi fiasco. But the thing of it was, those first 30 minutes or so seemed promising; they even had us thinking, for a fleeting moment or two, that Bay had actually made a film with intellectual content. And then we saw the rest of it. The same thing happened, to a lesser degree with Jamie Foxx's sci-fighter dud, Stealth: We were mildly intrigued, and then totally deflated by the finished product.

All I want to do is offer a word of caution. Ask for people to cool their jets before proclaiming Avatar the second coming of 2001, sight (mostly) unseen. Because that kind of hyperbole may get a lot of traffic, but it only, at the end of the day, hurts the moviegoing experience. 

Are you tired, as I am, of the relentless overhyping of today's movies, or is this part of the fun for you, getting as much info as early as possible?

More James Cameron's 'Avatar':
James Cameron's 'Avatar' footage screened at Cinema Expo
James Cameron's 'Avatar': Game and movie sneak peek
Q&A with James Cameron about 'Avatar'
Fox finally greenlights James Cameron's 'Avatar'

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Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Ben

    Stealth? Really?

  • Albizzle

    I enjoy hyping up certain pop culture properties – appointment television and event films create awesome hotbeds for fans and naysayers, alike, to go at it! Fun debate!

  • Stephen

    >>Are you tired, as I am, of the relentless overhyping of today’s movies?
    This question from someone who works at EW, the company that overhypes and shills everything Twilight-related?

  • Rich

    Budget on this film is allegedly $300 million. With a budget like that, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, hypewise.

  • Allen

    Ben I agree with you…Stealh intrigued you? Really?

  • Chris

    I think Bruno is the most overhyped movie so far. As much as I like Sascha Baron Cohen, his ubiquitous Bruno appearances are kinda deflating the movie. Perhaps the same thing happened with Borat and I just didn’t notice, since no one was in on the joke back then. I think this time around we’re in for a letdown.

  • Ben Hornbrook

    This movie obviously deserves the hype.It will amazing
    Will it change my life, no. It is a movie. Dont take hype so seriously, and just enjoy the entertainment.
    You jimmy.

  • Ben Hornbrook

    dont let hype influence you so much… thats retarded.
    wait.watch it. make a judgement.

  • Michael Stat

    The thing is, all the “hype” surrounding Avatar, up until yesterday at least, was entirely based on what Cameron and other filmmaker’s have said about it. Well, that and the fact that Cameron is an awesome director.
    Fox hasn’t released a SINGLE OFFICIAL IMAGE from the movie, nor a teaser, nor a TV spot. That is unheard of less than 6 months from the release of a gigantic movie like this.
    So there really isn’t any hype if you think about it. The only people really getting hyped are cinephiles, movie fanatics, etc.

  • Perry Lane

    The early reports do sound too good to be true, but who other than Cameron could pull it off? That said, he kind of benefited from the bad buzz for Titantic, so who’s to say. It’s good to see him back in sci fi, but I’d like him to take on Pyramids of Mars, my favorite online graphic novel. He’d make it rock!

  • Jon M

    Well the hype is largely not of Cameron’s making. The studio has yet to begin a promotional campaign of any kind. Other than a few behind the scenes pics and so shots of the video game we have not seen anything official. To compare a Director of Cameron’s caliber to Michael Bay or that moron that made Stealth is not really a fair comparison. Of course those movies sucked, they were made by hacks with a clear track record of crap. Avatar just has a natural unavoidable hype built simply because of who the director is and the fact that he has not made a film in 12 years.

  • Sebastian

    James Cameron disappoints me. How does he think that this movie is going to be so great when in reality he is protecting it from eventual failure. I mean look at the way he threatened Shaymalan with legal action for making a movie with the same title. The same movie that is based on the creation of a show. His “legal” action almost seems childish and I will not see the film for sure. Its sad as I enjoyed many of Cameron’s films.

  • Lynn

    I’ll save my enthusiasm for when we actually get publicly released footage, stills, etc. There’s hype, but it’s just based on word of mouth. No non-industry person has seen ANYTHING for this film.
    And yes, I did note the irony of EW bemoaning overhyped films when you can’t go anywhere on this site without being barraged by Twilight crap.

  • Tronbarn

    I certainly am tired of the overhyping of some movies more than others. Twilight is a good example of this. But at the end of the day very few movies are worthy of the hype. The Dark Knight and Watchmen being exeptions. If James Cameron had not made the biggest movie of all time and he had been directing a film every two years up until now the pre-hype would practically be nothing for Avatar. If you’re a fan of Cameron, then his absence coupled with the promise of this film by default creates the hype machine. I think fox is smart because they get free publicity and get all the geeks riled up and then come fall they will make it known to everyone else who wouldn’t have been crawling all over the net sucking up every morsel of Avatar info 2 years before release. In all honesty I am one of the ones perpetuating the hype because I believe in the promise of this film and that we will get a spectacle and story unlike so many tent poles that try and fail.

  • Daveed Flana

    This is going to be a tremendous disappointment of a movie. People are going into this thinking it’s going to be an amazing action experience. The truth? No, it’s PG-13 and it’ll look it, since the early footage resembles TINKERBELL’S ADVENTURE IN PIXIE HOLLOW more than ALIENS. People are saying the visual effects are amazingly realistic. The truth? Nobodoy really cares about visual effects – they care about the spectacle of WHAT the visual effects SHOW us. And what they’ll show here are cuddly/scary animals fighting other cuddly/scary animals. People are saying this movie is going to blow us all away with the story. The truth? No, it’s about a Thundercat who helps a “hero” who is not really ever in any danger because he’s using a puppet to get around the threats he faces without ever being in the slightest bit of jeopardy himself. The reality is being sidelined. And the studio, in a clear panic, IS GONNA GIVE 15 MINUTES AWAY FOR FREE TO TRY TO GENERATE INTEREST!

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