Undoubtedly, the little gadgets are one of the hottest trends on the market in 2017. No one can question their commercial value at the moment, but in ten years, will people still be clamoring for the latest in fidget spinner technology? Or will people forget why they ever sought them out in the first place?
At what point does fad end and intrinsic value begin?
These are the questions 20th Century Fox should be asking itself as the studio decides exactly how Avatar, almost one decade after the film began its unparalleled journey to a staggering $2.78 billion at the worldwide box office, should continue. The decision has ostensibly been made, with the company remaining steadfast in its plans to make the property a series, including multiple sequels. However, the enigma surrounding the choice is whether there will still be a demand for the reported supply whenever the film(s) finally debut.
Let's explore if James Cameron's Pandora will remain a premiere destination for audiences when his tales of Na'vi and unobtainium return, or if the film series might be headed towards the biggest sophomore slump in Hollywood's history.
The Death of 3D
Many could definitely make the argument that a flash-in-the-pan toy and a multi-million dollar film are apples and oranges, but in the case of Avatar, the fidget spinner comparison sticks more than one might expect. The reasoning behind this is yes, the movie brought in massive amounts of cash at the box office, but did it garner success for the wrong (gimmicky) reasons? Is Avatar the highest grossing film of all time because it was a great movie, or because it was a lightning in a bottle mash-up of the right technology releasing at the right time?
Just like popular commercial crazes, Hollywood sways in ebbs and flows as well. When Avatar released in 2009, it was in the midst of a 3D renaissance similar to the 1980s when almost every franchise released an entry to take advantage of the fad. But just like it did some 30 years ago, 3D is dying out once again.
During 2010 (the bulk of Avatar's theatrical run), 21% of domestic box office revenue came from the format, totaling $10.6 billion. Cut ahead to 2016, and that number dipped to 14%, despite the fact that overall box office totals were at an all-time high. Considering that over 80% of Avatar's domestic and international intake came from 3D presentations, this establishes a potential pitfall for its prospects going forward. Even Imax is taking action following the decline, recently revealing during an earning call that the company's 3D slate would be reduced following a "clear preference" for 2D at domestic theaters.
With 16% of Avatar's 3D intake brought in via IMAX presentations, the lack of tacked-on premiums creates an additional stumbling block for projecting the box office revenue of future sequels. Even if every single viewer returned, when discussing a film on this scale (the full budget of the first film is still unknown), every dollar counts.