One of the most consistent running jokes about James Cameron’s Avatar is its perceived absence from popular culture. Movies that have similarly made upwards of $2-3 billion at the global box office seem inescapable. Star Wars films, Avengers entries, and even Cameron’s own Titanic remain part of everyday conversation. But Avatar, which tops them all monetarily, never quite caught on like that.
Very few people dress as Na’vi. Quotes from the film aren’t used in sitcoms. You don’t find a lot of merchandise on shelves between films. And, because of that, the film has become an easy target for fans. “Quick, name one character in Avatar,” is a common sentiment, and apparently Cameron is well aware.
Speaking to Empire, the director of the long-awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, directly addressed those criticisms in a way that truly makes it seem like he reads the hate. “The trolls will have it that nobody gives a shit and they can’t remember the characters’ names or one damn thing that happened in the movie,” Cameron told the magazine. “Then they see the movie again and go, ‘Oh, okay, excuse me, let me just shut the fuck up right now.’ So I’m not worried about that.”
Cameron’s sentiment, while obviously spicy, is valid. If these “trolls” really hated a movie or franchise, they wouldn’t go see it. But they usually do. And, for Cameron, that’s all that matters. Not because he wants the money (well, maybe a little bit because of that), but because, at least it’s implied, he believes it’ll win them over.
In the same interview, the director preemptively took a shot at anyone complaining about the film’s eventual runtime too. (Which, admittedly, is probably going to happen.) According to Empire, Cameron’s current cut of the movie is close to three hours and he’s fine with it. “I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours,” Cameron said. “I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie…’ It’s like, give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.”
We will say, Cameron could be a little bit behind the curve here. Critics might be likely to complain about the length but, these days, some fans equate a film’s length to its quality, at least before release. So an extended runtime could end up working in his favor.
We’ll find out sooner than ever before. Avatar: The Way of Water is on its way to theaters December 16. Are you excited that it’s long? Can you name all the Avatar characters? (And no, not that Avatar, Aang.)
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