Monday, November 9, 2009

NEWS: Avatar Has a $500 Million Budget?

Recently, a New York Times article raised the question asking if a film like James Cameron’s Avatar, which as The Playlist points out, is a film that features no superstars, is an original idea, and is not based on a franchise, and if it will be able to rcoup it’s large budget.

How large you say?

How about $500 million large.

Shit, that's shocking enough just to type.

According to published reports, the production budget was listed at just above $230 million, however, the price tag doesn’t include financial contributions from Cameron and other contributors. With everything added, Avatar is set to cost those who backed it, roughly $500 million.

Now, that may seem like a big number for studio Fox, but they have a few backup plans.

First, the studio has brought in a pair of equity partners, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Media, who are going to essentially take up almost two thirds of the budget, and while that means lower profit for Fox, they also have a second ace up their sleeves, in the form of a trio of chipmunks. Here’s from the NYT article:

Taking no chances, Fox is backing up Mr. Cameron’s movie with what an executive recently called the studio’s “secret weapon. That would be “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel,” set to open just a week after studio marketers get “Avatar” into theaters. It is the relatively safe sequel to a chipper family comedy that cost about $60 million and took in $217 million at the domestic box office when it was released two years ago.

Finally, according to reports, Fox has made a part of Cameron’s contract that, if the film reached or exceeded $300 million, the film maker would have to wait to get paid, so that those funding the film, got a return first. It’s not that big of a deal since this IS the guy who did Titanic, so I’m sure money isn’t an issue for the guy, and it’s kind of interesting to see how Fox actually used their brains for a change.

However, what does this do for the film? Hell, back at $300 million, the film needed to be a MONSTER hit make it’s money back, but now, it looks like while I know over time that it will most likely make a few dollars back, it needs to break all kinds of records to get positive. However, it could very well do that, as not only do the TV spots look great, but I think along with a bit of Oscar buzz, at least from people I hear talking, I think this is going to be a bigger hit than people are thinking. It helps that it’s mainly going to be seen in 3-D, with ticket prices almost double that of non-3D screenings.

All I know is this is a risky project, and one that Fox seems to have known about before they picked it up.

Go see something good!

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