It’s telling that Cameron sees the many moviegoers and critics who have expressed sentiments that “Avatar” isn’t an enduring story after all as trolls. While the movie was lauded for its impressive visual effects and made more money than any other in film history, it’s never been quite as overwhelmingly acclaimed on the story front. The film holds an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes in both viewer and critic categories, meaning roughly 1 in 5 viewers and critics didn’t like it. Is it a “Pocahontas” ripoff? A sci-fi diversion with questionable takes on sex and race? The best movie ever?
Cameron seems to think the quality of the work speaks for itself, but he also admits to Empire that it’s pretty difficult to make a four-quadrant hit these days. “‘Avatar’ played eight to 80,” he says, but “does the audience still even exist at that scale?” He says he himself labeled the “Avatar” sequel plan, which includes not one or two but four sequels, “the dumbest business case in history.” The filmmaker also seems to know exactly what goalposts these movies need to hit to make them a box office success: “If we did 20 per cent or 30 per cent less because the market simply doesn’t exist anymore, that would be bad.”
We’ll find out if “Avatar: The Way of Water” has what it takes to be a follow-up hit when it arrives in theaters on December 16, 2022. Empire’s August issue goes on sale this Thursday, July 7th.