Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Exclusive: Fox Co-Chairman Jim Gianopulos talks Avatar! (ShoWest 2009)

Hi everyone, Michael here.  I caught up with Fox Filmed Entertainment Co-Chairman Jim Gianopulos after his keynote speech here at ShoWest.  We talked about Avatar - including its current status, the forthcoming poster and trailer, fan hype, 3D, and how Avatar will transport audiences to an incredible new world through classic storytelling.

Thanks very much to Mr. Gianopulos for his time!

Michael: We've been following Avatar very closely.  What can you tell us about it?

Gianopulos: I've seen the film-most of the film-and I think Jim's comment that it's like dreaming only you're enough. (laughs)-Is accurate.  I think it's a truly amazing film in the sense that he's created visual images, and a story, and a world, and creatures and experiences that I've just never seen in a cinema.  It's just truly amazing.  So, with the partnership of WETA and James Cameron, and a story that's been in his mind and developing all these years, combined with the technology to do it catching up, is just a trifecta beyond anything.

Michael: It's going to be mind boggling.  The hype-just judging by the fan base-the hype for this is unlike anything we've seen since maybe Star Wars: Episode I.

Gianopulos: Well, I don't think it's comparable to anything....

Michael: ...Maybe even higher.

Gianopulos: The other thing I would say is, you know, no one ever wants to see the hype of a movie built up and expectations that get out of control, but, you know, this movie delivers on a level unlike anything I've ever seen.  So I'd like to try to keep people's enthusiasm within rational levels, but I'm telling you I think this thing will surpass anyone's rational expectations.

Michael: When do you think we might possibly see the first poster, image, or footage?

Gianopulos: Oh, the poster will be out soon.  The reality, I think, for people, and especially people who understand the know, the film...Jim is essentially finished all of his shooting of the film, and it has been rendered, in working with WETA.  So now the film is at WETA being rendered in its photoreal images.

Michael: A huge final pass, rendering all the final images?

Gianopulos: It's much more than a pass.  It's taking it from its production images, to its photorealistic final images which Jim will continue to supervise in great detail as he does everything.  But it's unfair for him as a filmmaker to spend years doing this...  

Michael: ...To put something out that's not 100% done...

Gianopulos:  Yeah, it's not fair--it's not the final version.  There are great portions of the film finished in final form, but they are not of complete scenes.  So when we have a complete scene, when we have enough, it will come out and I think it will meet those expectations.

Michael: Another quick question - I know that Cameron had said, a while ago at least, that Fox wanted Avatar to be shown only on 3D screens.  Is that still a possibility?

Gianopulos: I don't think that's possible, because I think that would deny the movie to too many people in too many places in the world.  But most importantly, while the movie is amazing in 3D, it's such a brilliant film, it would be brilliant in any form.  It's like saying, did Titanic have to be in 3D?  Did Aliens have to be in 3D? They were truly great films.

Michael: Everything he has said - that he is focused on the storytelling, that he's not forgotten the lessons he learned on Titanic...

Gianopulos: ...Yeah, and another point that Jim's made repeatedly is that the old form of 3D was a gimmick that was intended to extend the life of a tired franchise.  So you have the monster, the monster returns, and the monster returns in 3D.  That was the 50's and the 60's and times past.  This is the greatest filmmakers in the world using this film medium to express themselves on the biggest pallet and in the biggest scale of any movie made, and it's an entirely different experience.  But - doesn't mean it's not a great movie in 1D if you have to show it that way!

Michael: (laughs) That's great.  Nice to meet you, and thanks so much for everything!

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