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Alternate World, Alternate Technology

By December 10, 2009Newswires

Alternate World, Alternate Technology

“WELCOME to Avatar.”

The director James Cameron had materialized, as if by digital magic, before an early screening audience here of his latest blockbuster-in-waiting. But it’s not quite clear what the director was inviting them into this day in early December. The little $230 million picture he had just finished? The “world” created by his production’s advanced digital techniques? The “shameless engine of commerciality” he has not so jokingly claimed to have constructed? Whichever “Avatar” Mr. Cameron had in mind, a lot of people’s holiday happiness, and profit, rest upon it. And the debut did not come without a hiccup.

The houselights dimmed. The 20th Century Fox logo appeared. Trumpets blared. But before the first frame of this futuristic, sci-fi, eco-pacifist space fable could make an impression, the houselights rose.

“That was a bit shorter than you expected,” Mr. Cameron called out, to polite laughter. “There’s a problem in the projection room.” Fearing for the life of the projectionist, the audience watched Mr. Cameron, white-maned, a little paunchy these days and wearing his standard blue button-down, disappear. Darkness fell, and “Avatar” resurfaced. This time the audience got to see what four years of labor and state-of-the-art visual effects look like.

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