avatar is the best (around!)

A day without TV news? Nooooooo!!! It’s true. Just about. Around the movie world:
we were tired of seeing jack and rose on the bow of the ship anyway.

we were tired of seeing jack and rose on the bow of the ship anyway.

What can you say about Avatar that hasn’t been said already? It’s now officially the biggest movie ever. What people seem to be glossing over is how utterly incredible it is that the same director has the top two movies, and they’re not sequels of each other. This should give James Cameron legitimate claim on “best director ever” territory. Of the top 25 highest grossing movies of all time, only Steven Spielberg can claim to be on there more than once with original movies (ET, Jurassic Park). George Lucas is on three times, but all with Star Wars movies. Spielberg even makes a third entry with Crystal Skull. Cameron is not someone you’d traditionally think of in the same breath with those guys, but from now on, he should be. No questions asked.

Cameron may find himself on that list again, but not for an original movie. Titanic couldn’t have a sequel, but the stage is set for Avatar to produce a franchise. Directors are normally skittish about talking up sequels before there’s any kind of green light, but not this time. Cameron has no qualms about saying he created the Avatar world with sequels in mind, which is pretty much making his bosses at Fox do back flips on an hourly basis. They even have alarms that go off every hour in the Fox studios, at which time every employee is required to do a back flip. OK, I made that up.

Apparently, though, the Chinese government can ask questions. The country requires its cineplexes to have two-thirds of its theaters filled with Chinese-made movies — something that was probably tested when Avatar blew through the country and became its highest-grossing movie ever. So when theater owners tried to get it on additional screens to meet customer demands, the government decided to crack down. That’s unheard of here, but the Chinese government puts a lot of money into its film industry, so of course they’d want to make sure they get some kind of return on their investment. But let’s all take a step back and realize when we criticize our government — and I do it all the time — it could be a lot worse.

shrek 4 can't come fast enough

shrek 4 can't come fast enough

Not everyone is as lucky as Avatar since the list of Hollywood bombs over the last five years is far longer than its successes and is muddied with the names of the business’ top actors and actresses. Blaming Kurt Russell for Grindhouse is a little rough since it was sold as a Quentin Tarantino movie and John C. Reilly for Walk Hard is misleading since it was billed more as a Judd Apatow movie. But everything else is completely legit. And yes, Eddie Murphy belongs on their twice.

What a year for the British! Eddie Izzard is signed on to host the Independent Spirit Awards — traditionally the day before the Oscars — and becomes the third British man to host a major (or at least sub-major) awards show this year after Russell Brand hosted the VMAs and Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes. If it’s coming as news to you that Gervais is heavily involved in the independent film market to possess enough credibility to host the Spirit Awards, then you can sit in that camp with me. I’m an Izzard fan, his stand-up is funny and he was fantastic on the two seasons of The Riches. But an independent film geek? What, because he got 12th billing in the disaster that was Romance and Cigarettes? Other than that, I don’t see much independent work on his bio in the last decade. Then again, neither did Rainn Wilson when he hosted two years ago on the strength of a two-minute stint in Juno. Or maybe the Spirit Awards is just mining the talent from My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Wanda Sykes next year!

See, it pays to be nice! When Conan signed off of The Tonight Show, he went out of his way to thank NBC for everything it had done for him, turning a “punk writer” on SNL as Tom Hanks put it, to host of one of America’s true TV institutions — even if it ended beyond badly. As a parting gift, NBC picked up a pilot from his production company, possibly to make next year’s fall schedule. It’s a great move by NBC since it will have built-in eyeballs as the start of the show’s run, if it makes the schedule. The publicity already is in place for every writer in America to take hold of (“Conan’s real last show on NBC!”) and it will start the second it gets picked up in May and not stop until September. That guarantees at least 16 million people are going to watch the pilot, which in this day and age, makes it a hit. If the pilot is good enough to hold on to 75 percent of that audience, it would be the best performing show on the network. No matter how many NBC jokes Conan made or how angry he is at the network, he still can make the network money. That’s all NBC cares about.

these two are barely recognizable here

these two are barely recognizable here

Whew! I thought I was the only one who noticed that after Avatar, the Bring It On franchise apparently is the most powerful force in the world. How many of these bad boys can they possibly make? I’m pretty sure that every time I scroll by ABC Family, there’s either a Secret Life of an American Teenager marathon on or a new Bring It On movie. I just thought they were making one or two of them a week, but apparently they’re just rerunning the same ones over and over again. I’m glad that’s finally cleared up. Seeing as Eliza Dishku doesn’t have anything going on right now, she’ll probably be back as the feisty coach in the next installment, Bring It On: Still Here.

Because Hulk hasn’t disappointed enough at the box office and in the realm of fanboys enough in the past 10 years, Marvel is kicking around the idea of another Hulk movie, or at least making sure he’s included in the Avengers movie. It should be obvious by now that there just isn’t a market out there for the hulk because he’s already been pulled in enough pop culture directions that he doesn’t really have a clear image. Is he the gentle giant of the TV show? Or is he the wrecking machine of the comics? Both movies have tried to incorporate both, and have, for the most part, failed. Not miserably, because I somewhat liked both of them, but failed nonetheless. Third time’s a charm?

In case you’re worried about the Spider-Man franchise and the direction it’s headed in, there is at least some good news — Stan Lee is on board with the reboot. The guy is old, he may or may not be a little out of it and out of touch with what people really want in movies, but if you don’t respect the opinion of THE GUY WHO CREATED SPIDER-MAN IN THE FIRST PLACE, then you’re being a little stubborn. The fact that he thought it was getting a little old and tired — and I think that was the insinuation — is at least cause to take a breath and wonder if it was.

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