Source: Ecorazzi - While we’re not sure if anything about the DVD itself will be green, we’re happy to announce that Twentieth Century Fox isn’t just using Earth Day as it’s marketing bitch for Avatar. At a press conference today, the studio and its billion-dollar director James Cameron announced a partnership with the Earth Day Network to plant one million trees in honor of the film by the end of 2010.
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to share the environmental messages from AVATAR through the efforts during the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and with Earth Day Network,” said James Cameron. “Earth Day Network’s commitment and actions to promote a healthy, sustainable planet go hand-in-hand with the themes of AVATAR.”
The non-profit, which is committed to caring for and nurturing the trees to maturity, will plant native species in more than 15 different countries. Natural disasters such as fires and landslides will also be considered during the planting process.
“AVATAR sends a universal message about the danger of exploiting our natural resources and brings to the forefront of the global consciousness the need to protect our planet and humanity, said Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network. “We hope this commitment from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to plant one million trees, will inspire others to stand up against climate change for Earth Day.”
Ok, so Avatar didn't sweep the Oscars, well I thought I could share one more interesting article on one of the most powerful films in history.
Source: Damanhur by Massimo Introvigne - A Turin based sociologist, director and one of the founder of the Center for the Study of New Religions. CESNUR also studies contemporary communal and spiritual movements, and their impact on social life.
This article has been published on two major Italian newspapers on January 30th and 31st, and is also avalible on the CESNUR website.
James Cameron's film Avatar combines an incredible technology, that can be only appreciated in 3D on the big screen and that can truly bring back to the cinema all those who feed only on Internet and tv, with an all-in-all very simple plot and a debatable ideology. The Na'vi, the peaceful inhabitants of the planet Pandora attacked by earthly mercenaries hired by a multinational, are in fact an obvious metaphor for all of those who are 'different': and the message is that those who are 'different' are always and in any case better than us. If it were only of a criticism of what Giulio Tremonti calls the 'turbo-capitalism' of multinationals - including its scarce respect for cultures and the environment - there would be nothing to object. But the fact is - as many Christian critics in the United States have noticed - that the moral superiority of the Na'vi is derived from their religion, which the spectator is brought to admire and share.
The film teaches that this religion is superior to those of the earthlings, because it unites rather than dividing, because it is monistic rather than dualistic. It does not distinguish between Creator and creatures, and it venerates Eywa, the Mother or the All, a sort of collective mind of the universe that reveals it to be an extremely dense network of interconnections. Everything is connected with everything else, and the Na'vi shamans perform miracles, including healings, because they are able to penetrate these lines of connection and enter into attunement with Eywa. The classic name for this religion - not used in Cameron's film - is pantheism: but this is a pantheism revisited with an ecological and New Age flavour. The reference to New Age is obvious, and it is more convincing than the hypothesis that the Na'vi's religion is a slightly modified variation of Hinduism - a comment that made the front pages of Indian daily newspapers. The expression "New Age," nevertheless, indicates a genre and not a species. There are very many New Age groups, and there is quite a lot of diversity among them.
Those who are familiar with this world, when confronted by Avatar can't help but notice that the New Age group that comes closest to the Na'vi’s way of thinking is not in the United States, but in Italy, in the province of Turin. It's Damanhur, the "Aquarian" center founded in 1976 in Valchiusella by Oberto Airaudi, a place that is famous for its great underground temple. Despite how much its 'citizens' - as they prefer to call themselves - dislike this label, Damanhur represents the largest New Age community in the world. The hypothesis that Cameron could have been inspired by Damanhur is not so far-fetched. Books and videos about Damanhur in English are very common in the American New Age circuit, and the story of the underground temple that the community, quite incredibly, succeeded in keeping secret until 1992 has fascinated even large newspapers. The similarities are astonishing. Like the underground temple of Damanhur, the center of power and spirituality of the Na'vi is hidden: inside an enormous tree.
Like the Damanhurians, the Na'vi have their sacred language, and the use of it, both in Cameron's film and at Damanhur in Valchiusella, helps to indicate the difference with those who are not part of the community. Both the Na'vi and the Damanhurian citizens emphasize the value of being part of a 'people', a belonging that is not only ethnic but initiatic, and - as the protagonist of the film himself demonstrates - voluntary. The Damanhurians greet each other, recognizing the deep communion that exists between them, with the words, "Con te” (With you), not with the usual "buongiorno”.The Na'vi do the same by saying "I see you." At Damanhur, every member of the community establishes a special - bilateral - connection with an animal, taking on its name. Amongst the Na'vi, every warrior becomes one by choosing a winged animal to ride, and by being chosen by it at the same time.
The Damanhurian citizen, writes the founder Airaudi, becomes "a drop that is conscious of oneself and of all the other drops forming the sea of Being." The Na'vi would agree. Both the Na'vi and the Damanhurians believe pantheistically in a great All, where each manifestation of nature and life is in connection with all the rest. Like the Na'vi, the Damanhurians attempt to interact with these connections – also by using special symbols – obtaining results, or so they say, even therapeutic ones. One can understand - in the United States and elsewhere - the diffidence of the Church and the Christian community, for which pantheism and the negation of the ontological difference between the Creator and the creation are centuries-old enemies, now returning with the New Age. But until now, there haven’t been very many people who have seen the origin of this new Hollywood religion very close to us, in Valchiusella.
Source: LA Times - The Tim Burton film takes in $210.3 million worldwide, the biggest Winter premiere of all-time. Much of the take comes from showings in 3-D.
Disney ended up picking just the right moment to jump down the 3-D rabbit hole.
As "Avatar" comes to the end of a historic three-month run, Walt Disney Studios' "Alice in Wonderland" took most of the 3-D screens and opened to an eye-popping $210.3 million worldwide.
Much like director James Cameron's mega-hit, Tim Burton's adaptation of the classic tale, starring Johnny Depp, generated about 70% of its opening weekend business from theaters with 3-D screens. It easily beat the premiere of "Avatar" and set a record for the biggest winter opening, even accounting for ticket price inflation, selling a studio-estimated $116.3 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada.
Overseas, it took in $94 million in 40 territories, also setting a record winter opening.
"After 'Avatar,' people were saying that they're ready for the next 3-D world and the first weekend in March was all of a sudden the right place to be to meet that desire," said Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross.
"Alice" played at about 220 more 3-D theaters than "Avatar," since exhibitors have added more capacity recently. As returns came in, it became clear that audiences generally preferred to see Disney's movie with the advanced technology, despite higher ticket prices.
"In theaters with multiple formats, we saw that the Imax 3-D sold out first, then regular 3-D, and then 2-D," said Disney distribution President Chuck Viane.
Though young women were most interested in "Alice," the picture's strong showing and sellouts at all times of day indicated that it had broad appeal. At midnight shows Thursday night, Viane said, the movie made $4 million, mainly from young adults. It generated $41 million in the U.S. and Canada on Friday largely from families with daughters early in the evening and from couples on dates later in the night. On Saturday, "Alice" grossed $44.3 million domestically, in large part due to families attending matinees.
3-D has accounted for an increasingly large percentage of ticket sales over the last three months for "Avatar" as it has marched past $2.6 billion. That will be very difficult for "Alice," however, because most 3-D screens will switch to DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon" on March 26, a sign of the increasingly crowded marketplace for 3-D movies.
Word of mouth should be strong for "Alice," however, as audiences gave it an average grade of A-minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore, though reviews of the film were decidedly mixed. And with American students starting spring break next week, Disney will benefit from higher-than-average family attendance on weekdays.
The film's European opening was almost derailed when the studio, in an initiative championed by Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger, announced that "Alice" would be released on DVD just 12 weeks after it hit the big screen. Several theater chains, including two of the three biggest in Britain, threatened not to show the movie because of concerns the short window would hurt ticket sales. That led to a tense standoff that was resolved at the last minute.
Ultimately, "Alice" collected $16.8 million in Britain, by far the highest opening for a movie in March in the country. It also performed very well in Italy, Russia, Mexico and Australia.
"I'm just glad we had enough seats for everybody," said Viane.
Disney estimated that the countries where "Alice" opened last week would account for 60% of its international gross. The film has yet to premiere in several key territories including France, China, Japan and Brazil.
As often happens amid executive shake-ups in Hollywood, "Alice in Wonderland" is a gift of sorts left by former Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook, who was ousted in September. Though the team led by his replacement Ross handled the successful marketing push for the picture -- including an aggressive campaign on Facebook and a controversial ad covering the front of Friday's L.A. Times -- it was Cook and former production president Oren Aviv who approved the risky $200-million production.
"The Disney team has developed a lot of terrific movies, including my predecessors who developed and produced this movie," Ross said.