`Avatar` Seeks Out a Mega-Audience

By December 11, 2009Newswires

`Avatar` Seeks Out a Mega-Audience
Market Research Shows Mixed Levels of Interest Among Potential Ticket-Buyers for the 3-D Movie
by Lauren A. E. Schuker and Ethan Smith

Market research suggests mixed levels of interest among potential audiences for the extravagant 3-D sci-fi picture "Avatar," raising the stakes for the backers of one of the most expensive movies ever made.

Twentieth Century Fox says it is counting on strong word-of-mouth and positive reviews from critics to recoup its investment in the movie, which hits theaters next Friday.

The James Cameron film, which uses pioneering 3-D technology and computer graphics, is one of the most highly anticipated releases to come out of Hollywood in years.

But production costs on "Avatar," which traces the journey of a paraplegic soldier who leaves Earth for the magical planet Pandora, are likely to exceed $300 million. Two of Fox`s financial partners covered 60% of the film`s production costs, but, on top of that, Fox is spending around $150 million more on marketing the movie globally. Fox Co-Chairman Jim Gianopulos this week told CNN the movie "is the most expensive we`ve made."

That means that the movie has to be nothing short of a mega-blockbuster in order to make its money back. As a result, there`s hyperfocus on the latest advance research, or "tracking" of potential audiences.

Read the whole story here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 … lenews_wsj

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