Time Magazine Says Avatar Cost Upwards of $200 Million - Updated!
After more than a year of writing about James Cameron's Avatar, I think it's about time we get to see some actual footage. Cameron has been strategically planning when to debut the first trailer, not only so that the footage we see is completely finished, but so that it captures the interest of nearly everyone. Josh Quittner of Time Magazine was shown the very first footage from Avatar and seemed pretty much blown away. But one of the most interesting tidbits from his article pertains to the budget. "More than a thousand people have worked on it, at a cost in excess of $300 million, and it represents digital filmmaking's bleeding edge."
"I couldn't tell what was real and what was animated--even knowing that the 9-ft.-tall blue, dappled dude couldn't possibly be real," Quittner said about the footage from Avatar that he saw. "The scenes were so startling and absorbing that the following morning, I had the peculiar sensation of wanting to return there, as if Pandora were real." If that's the response that's coming from a writer for Time, than I know I'm probably going to be even more blown away than he was. And if that bit about the budget above still wasn't enough, then just keep on reading. "Spielberg predicts it will be the biggest 3-D live-action film ever."
According to IMDb, the most expensive film ever made was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, with a reported $300 million budget. Although, I've heard that Spider-Man 3 pushed well beyond its reported $258 million budget upwards of $350 million. Of course, budgets like this are never officially reported, but if the first number we're hearing related to Avatar is already at $200 million, we could even hear higher amounts later on once it's finished. I'm not surprised that Avatar is already up that high, as Cameron has invested so much in both the technology and production and has been working on this for years.
Although I'm not a big supporter of 3-D right now, I've consistently said that it will be Cameron's Avatar that will not only change my mind, but show the world what 3-D filmmaking is truly capable of achieving. We've still got another 8 months to wait, but with early reports like this, I'm not worried at all. "One theory, [Cameron] says, is that 3-D viewing 'is so close to a real experience that it actually triggers memory creation in a way that 2-D viewing doesn't.' His own theory is that stereoscopic viewing uses more neurons. That's possible. After watching all that 3-D, I was a bit wiped out. I was also totally entertained."
Update: Time has since edited their article to say that the budget was $200 million and not the originally reported $300 million. We're guessing they made this change under pressure from the studio, though we've been told that it was simply an error on Josh's part and that it was supposed to be $200 million all along.