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AVATAR: ADIEU AFTER 400!
New Year 2010 had begun with one particular English movie being the talk of the town. It had already been there for quite a few weeks and everyone had either seen it or was planning to see it in very soon. It is not very often that an English movie gets talked about so widely in Chennai, especially one that does not boast of any big international star. The only really familiar name amongst all associated with the movie was James Cameron and what a movie he had made – Avatar. It is amazing to see that it was January 2011 when the movie finally bid adieu to the city’s theaters. Now, that is a record that speaks for itself. We do not have the exact figures as yet, but a good guess is that the movie might have completed 400 consecutive days of theatrical run in Chennai city. Yes, the re-released Avatar-
  Chandramukhi
Special Edition with premium footage of Pandora did give an extra push to its box office run when it seemed to be losing steam. But, only if people had immensely liked it in the first place would they have walked in once again to watch the special unedited version. And, no doubt, there have been repeat audiences. There is absolutely no other way that a movie would have sustained itself for so long in theaters.

Some would say that it was the fascination towards the grand visuals and 3D effects that had spurred the movie along. But, following the huge success of Avatar, there have been a slew of films that have tried to capitalize on magnificent visuals and the 3D tag. These include previously successful franchises like Narnia, hugely popular stories like Gulliver etc. None of them have been able to make even a fraction of the impact that Avatar made and continues to make. But, what really makes the success of Avatar so astounding is the fact that it has managed to get a patronage which is not even accorded to the biggest hits from Indian cinema. The last time one remembers a Tamil movie completing one year in theaters is in 2005 – Chandramukhi. In 2010, completing one year in theaters is like a distant dream for any film. The dynamics of cinema business has changed so much in the last five years that 3-4 weeks is the optimum or even maximum shelf life for a film that is a hit. Even huge blockbusters like Endhiran are fading away from theaters after completing 100 days; Avatar nearly touched 400..

There are factors that have contributed to this long innings of Avatar. First, it began at the box office just like any other English movie does. Yes, there was a little bit of extra hype, a marginally wider release and a Tamil dubbed version that found its way to smaller theaters. But, for all reasons, the first few weeks were mostly made up of the niche audience who regularly turn up for Hollywood cinema. It is later, as the word of mouth about the stunning visual treat got around, that the other sections of the audience started showing up. Slowly, it became a must watch for every movie buff; English, Tamil or Hindi did not matter, everyone wanted to experience the most expensive movie to be ever made.

And, there could have been no better film than Avatar to gain this status. A painstakingly created piece of art that wows you. The sheer power of imagination of the human mind was exhibited in all its ebullience as a whole new world was created from thin air. There have been other instances where magical, mystical and mysterious lands have been conjured up on screen; like Hogwarts or Narnia or Liliput or Middle Earth. But none can match up to the completeness of Pandora. And, how can we forget the whole new language that was created. It is perhaps, for being such an inspirational creation that Avatar has earned itself the rare reputation of completing a year of consecutive screenings in Chennai. May we see more like these!
Tags : Avatar, Chandramukhi, Endhiran, Narnia
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