I owe my fellow movie reviewers, enthusiasts and chaps over at The Movie Blog a hearty thanks for stirring, as I wrote in a comment over there, the inner postal worker in me this morning. They broke the news, at least for me, about Cameron’s plan to re-release Avatar in theaters this August with 9 additional minutes of footage. Please drop by TMB page and read my initial thoughts on this epiphany of epic Hollywood-ness. I can’t help but further my response here, for you, my loyal and dedicated movie enthusiast because, well, I must. If I don’t write I cease to be. Tis’ better to write the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than to launch them at the proverbial dunderheads of the entertainment business for said aggression would result in the demise of Above the Line and no one wants that. Mostly.
The original release of Avatar was 160 minutes. That’s two hours and forty minutes. Two hours and forty minutes. I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty enough when most movies reach the two-hour mark because very often that equates to a sloppy second act that moves like a one-legged man in a snow storm, uphill. I’ve already mentioned that I liked Avatar, I enjoyed the big-screen escapism because unlike many, many action thriller flicks, Avatar developed characters first and followed with CG chicanery. But adding 9 additional minutes to an already unnecessarily long movie is too close to torture-porn for its own good. I heard about the alleged sex scene between Jake and Neytiri, which as I figured was left out to avoid offending the sensibilities of a PG13 audience, or so defined by the generally out-of-touch, aging, dysfunctional elite members of the MPAA. If you haven’t seen Kirby Dick’s documentary This Film Has Not Been Rated – What are you waiting for? It’s fantastic.
So we arrive at the inevitable crossroads of fact and opinion, of personal gut-thinking and real-world movie-dom, and obviously the winning decision will be based on audience reaction. If people flock to the theater, again, you can bet your gargantuan soda pop and colossal tub of popcorn that the precedent will be made for films to come. Remember, Hollywood is a big old green garden mulcher and whatever you stick in is going to come out the other side compost in the shape of dollar signs and if you embrace it, it will come. Audiences shape the movies they are served much more than anyone knows – a hushed fact the Hollywood people would be better off telling us so they know when NOT to make a 3D dance flick or churn out so many fantasy/sci-fi flicks one after the other that we get desensitized to ever wanting to watch another – at least for 2 or 3 years.
In the end we’ll get our Avatar pie with the all-too familiar meringue and graham cracker crust, we’ll take a bite and ask ourselves, ‘is that a ten-dollar slice of key-lime pie?’; by the time we get to the tin-pan it’ll be too late to avoid the bill unless of course we skip the diner all together.