When it comes to filmmaking, Hollywood director James Cameron has always seemed one step ahead of the game. So it says something about the growing international importance of the Chinese box office that the Oscar-winning director has announced he will be visiting Beijing as he cranks the publicity machine into overdrive for his latest film, the US$300 million (€202 million-budgeted 3D action-fantasy Avatar.
Avatar is scheduled for an international release the week of December 18 but will not premiere in China until January 2, 2010.
But Cameron announced on the weekend he would be in Beijing to meet Chinese press and film lovers in general on December 23 – and he will no doubt be looking to recoup a portion of the film’s massive budget from mainland Chinese fans who up until this year had established Cameron’s Oscar-winning Titanic (1997) as the country’s big-grossing film of all time.
The nationalist The Founding of a Republic – released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic – passed 406 million yuan (€40 million) last month, surpassing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (396 million yuan or €40 million) which had only just this year knocked Titanic (355 million yuan or €35 million) off its perch.
But more than a decade after its release, Titanic remains a firm favorite in Chinese film-goers' eyes due to its combination of romance and action – and Cameron has been saying Avatar follows a similar formula.
The international hype is really beginning to build around Avatar, Cameron’s first major feature since Titanic scooped 11 Oscars and almost US$2 billion in box office takings worldwide – making it the most successful film in the history of cinema.
Cameron was reported in the entertainment industry media at the weekend as saying Avatar has pushed his skills to the limits - some statement considering the years of work that went into the likes of Titanic and before that the ground-breaking Terminator 2.
“This film integrates my life’s achievements. It’s the most complicated stuff anyone’s ever done,’’ said Cameron, never one to shy away from a big statement.