Thursday, 14 January 2010

Audience Reaction

6. How have audiences responded and reacted to the film?

"Avatar is a hugely rewarding experience: rich, soulful, and exciting in the way that only comes from seeing a master artist at work...a transcendent , full-on, five-star experience, that's the closest we'll ever get to setting foot on a strange new world " - Empire magazine

"Avatar is a phenomenon you can't ignore, monumentally imposing and done with extraordinary expertise" - The Independent

"Avatar is much more than a film. It's a prescribed cinematic experience. Pure effect...It's an audacious, awe-inspiring work of modern art that reinvents and redesigns the whole process of sitting in a darkened room staring up at a screen. Sure it's taken him ten years, but Cameron has acheived no less than a rebirth of cinema." -

Avatar seems to have been receiving rave reviews all round - everyone from twitter and facebook fans, to bloggers, to rotten tomatoes users, seem to be buzzing about just how breath-taking this revolutionary new film is.

It has been recorded as the first movie ever to make $1bn in ticket sales around the world, it is ranking first on the UK box office, is the 3rd biggest film of all time, and has currently grossed over a staggering £40, 000, 000. This weekend, the 8th-10th January as pictured below, the film has made over £4, 000, 000 alone.

It remains to be said however, that we do slightly disagree with these soaring reviews of avatar. Yes, it is sure to go down in history as changing the face of film forever with it's captivating and oustandingly realistic effects, transporting you straight into the world of Pandora and the Na'vi, but this aside, we felt the characters and storyline were too standard, and boring, and do not differ greatly from what has already been seen in past films. In addition, we felt in ran on too long.

Target audience

5. Who is the target audience and how have they been targetted in the UK?

Without having first seen the film, or indeed heard about it's phenonmenal world-wide success,
the sci-fi/fantasy genre that Avatar falls into would perhaps suggest that it would appeal mostly to teenage to middle-aged males, and sci-fi fanatics. This however is not the case. James Cameron hoped that due to the massive amount of money that went into the film, it would appeal to 'everyone' from aged 8-80. He specifically mentioned the following target groups:
  • Families with young children
  • Gamers/technology enthusiasts
  • Sci-fi fanatics
  • Older males
  • Teenagers

Fox and Cameron cut the film down a lot to acheive the 12A rating they were after. This means that people of any age are entitled to go in and see it, so long as under 12 they are accompanied by an adult, broadening their target audience even further.

Avatar's sponsors, Coke Zero and LG Chocolate indicate a lot about their target audience - both are in turn targetting a teenage audience. This indicates that Fox were trying to lure in members of that target group by using these two endorsements. They set up cross-media convergences with companies such as LG (their common link being 'breakthrough' new technology), and Apple, with their Avatar iPhone App, which in turn benefit both companies.

People could use their iPhones and iPods to download and share data with their friends, check Avatar's website, watch trailers online and so on, meaning that technology users everywhere were being accessed by Avatar's massive advertisment campaign.

Avatar even took over YouTube's homepage in 15 different countries, with 'Avatar' mastheads and trailers. With thousands of millions of YouTuber's logging in everyday, this was a sure-fire, instant way of making Avatar known and talked about worldwide within as a little as a few days.

James Cameron is also a well-respected director, who in the past has directed films of high profile such as the all-time box office hit Titanic, The Terminator, and Aliens. This would automatically have meant that a buzz would be created around his next film - people would be naturally interested to see what he would produce next.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


2. How was the UK theatrical distribution of the film been managed in order to ensure the film's success in the UK?

Avatar's UK distributor is 20th Century Fox, who are responsible for the past distribution of Ice Age, Star Wars, Garfield, Home Alone, the Chronicles and Narnia amongst many others, demonstrating their expertise in the industry of large-scale blockbuster family adventure films, and indicating them to be the perfect distribution company for a film such as Avatar.

They had also just recently released Alvin and the Chimpunks, the Squeakquel which means that the films are being released in 'synergy', so can for example use one another as a platform for advertising (Alvin and the Chipmunks may be preceded by an Avatar advert and so on).

The premiere for Avatar was held on December the 11th in Leicester Square, London, demonstrating the UK as a specific target during the release. This premiere alone created a massive hype in the media industry and stormed across news headlines during the week. Despite many other films such as St. Trinians being released on that very same weekend, they simply did not pose as a threat to Avatar's success, this immediately obvious from it's first weekends takings of £8.5 million, almost eight times what St. Trinian's made in the same time frame. This is largely down to Avatar's much wider audience appeal, where other movies such as St. Trinians and Hump Day released on that same weekend were far more niche and specifically targetted.

20th Century Fox had distribution deals with both Coca-Cola and LG so as to boost the films success in the UK. LG for example combined the release of their newest model of phone with Avatar's launch in a process called a 'cross-media convergence'. The photo above of the film's premiere in Leicester Square shows how LG used the release to promote and advertise their phone. Here's a link to LG's blog to further illustrate how the companies would both have used each other for promotion.


4. Where and how is the film being exhibited in the UK?
Avatar was released on the 18th December in the UK and released worldwide on the 18th. It's been released in 471 of 650 screens in the UK - allowing the film to reach the widest possible audience. Every evening screening i attempted to see within the first week of release was fully
booked showing that the film was a huge success in cinemas. The box office figures support this fact although on it's second weekend, Avatar was beaten by 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel' which shocked most people in the industry.

Avatar was made primarily as a 3D film which was one of the reasons it cost so much and was so groundbreaking, however as with all 3D films it was also produced in standard 2D - even though 90% of advance ticket sales were sold for the 3D version. Making a film in 3D can either boost the overall revenue considerably if it is a success as the ticket prices are raised for 3D films, however it can also be the films financial downfall as they cost far more than a typical film to produce.

Without doubt, the most popular UK venue in which to view Avatar would be the IMAX cinema - with tickets selling out almost immediately. This is due to the fact that the IMAX screen is designed for 3D viewing - with a much larger screen with finer resolution - which makes the audience's experience all the more enjoyable. The symbiotic relationship between the film and the cinema is beneficial as it would boost the overall revenue for both.


3. How has the film been marketed to ensure it successfully reaches its target audience?

  • To market Avatar, 20th Century Fox used a viral marketing campaign to reach the films' correct target audience. The marketing content was very specifically aimed at the audience, using the website - - to launch a recruitment campaign for the users to take part in a mission on Pandora. This increases audience interaction with the film and the easy to use website interface means that a wide demographic can use the website - further increasing appeal. The method of narrow-casting has been used by 20th Century Fox in terms of their marketing strategy as when the website user is 'recruited' they must input their details - allowing 20th Century Fox to use these details to target specific audiences in the future through viral email campaigns, promotional offers and film related products.
  • The website includes links to become a fan on facebook and twitter which shows yet another link with modern technologies - an aspect that plays a significant role in attracting the correct target audience, the young, internet-using generation. You can also post reviews about Avatar on the website via Facebook and Twitter which adds interactivity. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube played a key role in the viral marketing campaign with official pages, blogs and videos being posted regularly to keep up audience attention and maintain the hype of the film. Audience interaction is built up on the website with the use of 'Alison Boyd' who is part of the Avatar world and provides the audience with another way to immerse themselves in the world of Pandora.
  • The official movie website - - opens with a full screen image showing reviews of the film - instantly grabbing the attention of the audience and showing them how well rated the film is by critics. The next thing the website shows is the full length trailer of Avatar - throwing the audience into the world of the film. The rest of the website includes screenshots and information about the film to give the audience a taster of what they're to expect from Avtar and even has background music to set the scene.

  • Unlike with most games, the director of Avatar James Cameron played a key role in developing the video game of the film. He felt that in the past neither enough attention to detail or money was invested in video games and used this phenomenally expensive project as a way of changing this and perhaps revolutionising the industry. The game itself is a prequel to the film and allows the player to enter the world of Pandora before we see it in the film - this set up the film for the audience and also gives the chance to provide background information. As the game was directly linked with the film, it's high budget graphics and set up is unrivalled by previous film games and even allows Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers to play the game in 3D.

  • Avatar had several sponsorship deals with well known 'superbrands' LG and Coca Cola - both of which had their own respective websites to endorse Avatar. This is a mutually beneficial relationship and the two are working in synergy to earn publicity and money for one another. In the US, McDonalds offered a free Avatar card with every meal which endorsed the film and would have seen sales increase as people wanted to collect all eight limited edition pieces of merchandise. These are examples of cross media convergence and would have benefited Avatar as all three brands are extremely well known globally and appeal to a wide audience.


1. How was the film produced to appeal to the audience?

  • 3D Technology was used to make the audience really engage with the film and give it an extra element missing from more low budget films. The film itself took over 4 years to film, including 8 months of performance capture work, creating stunning special effects like none ever seen at cinemas before.

  • The genre appealed to a wide range of audiences, specifically family audiences, the main attraction obviously being the novelty of the 3d effects for younger members of the family.The realistic, never-seen-before quality of the CGI/animations helped the audiences engage with the film on a whole other level

  • The production of the film was drawn out over a long period time with a large advertising campaign, so by the time it was released there was already a massive hype around it. It created an absolute storm in the media, completley over-powering it's 'rival' films on release at the time, with it's huge audience appeal.

  • One of the most important factors was that the storyline itself was still kept exciting, interesting and innovative, despite the 3d element. The director claimed that he didn't want the massive special effects to take away from the narrative in anyway-and in this he succeeded.

  • The film had such a vast appeal because it includes something for all, covering several genres including; romance, action, sci-fi.