All aboard the Avatar Economy

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

Earlier this year I saw James Cameron’s Avatar. What is as impressive (perhaps even more so) as the movie is the rapid ascension of the Avatar Economy. I viewed the film in 3D, which is an engaging experience. Despite some of the negative criticism it received, I enjoyed the effects and, although it was long, was never disinterested.

Some said the film was “all special effects and no plot”. To that I say it was an action movie and all action movies have “good effects and no plot”.

According to Box Office Mojo, Avatar’s US domestic total (as of this week) stands at just shy of $692 million. Add to this its foreign total of $1.775 billion for a worldwide total of nearly $2.5 billion making it the largest in history for an original (franchise or sequel) film.

And let’s remember the timing here. We’re talking $2.5 billion in less than three months - or the GDP of a not-so-small developing nation.

But that’s not the end of the story. While New Zealand claimed Avatar injected more than $300 million into its economy during the movie’s filming, the Avatar Economy continues to power on.

There’s the flow on media sales and merchandising rights that make the Avatar Economy up there with the Star Wars anthology that captured a generation. Ubisoft has already released Avatar the video game, for example.

My point is simple. In this age of animated movies, CGI characters, 3D cinema, video games, social media, digital marketing and action figures the creation of not only big brands is possible, but entire economies – all from one fictitious story.

We’ll keep an eye on the social and technological impacts of the Avatar Economy, which will no doubt be further stimulated when a second film is released.

By the way, congrats to Sam Worthington for scoring – and giving justice to – the lead role in the movie. Apparently he had $2000 to his name just a few years ago and now he’s the start of the biggest movie of all time.

Talk about rags to riches. I wonder how many people picked up on his slightly-deeper-than-the-average American accent.

If you believe the gravity-defying fantasy land of Pandora then you’ll believe anything is possible, including the creation of instant economies. We’re sure not in Kansas anymore whether we like it or not.

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