Avatar, The Whale, & M3GAN: A Look Into the Current State of Cinema

On Wednesday, Avatar: The Way of Water became the fifth highest grossing film of all time, passing Avengers: Infinity War. With the film continuing to climb, Director James Cameron is confident in moving forward with Avatar 3,4, and 5. While the film’s story was redundant in comparison to the first, it still poses enough adventure and creativity to fill seats week in and week out. The fan base appears to be enthralled and there is no reason to believe that the lines won’t be long when Avatar 3 hits the theaters. 

As the trend goes, many movies continue to flop and Avatar is building yet another big film franchise/universe. However, the industry has had a few pleasant surprises recently. Psychological drama The Whale, has been gaining a lot of attention for the job lead actor Brendan’s Fraser has done in his role as Charlie, the father of Sadie Sink’s Ellie. Director Darren Aronofsky, a director known for his surreal melodramatics, did an amazing job taking this play and turning it into a big screen sensation. The film has received three Oscar nominations including Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Brandan Fraser, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Hong Chau. The movie follows Charlie as he tries to rediscover his life’s purpose while overcoming the mistakes and shortcomings of his past. This is one of the more moving movies I’ve seen in a while and has a deeper message than your average “hero” story that we see today. This film is currently screening in select theaters in Fargo and Bismarck with no plan to be released on any streaming service anytime soon.  

Another box office hit was released early this year, horror/sci-fi  film, M3GAN. The film has earned over $130 million worldwide against a budget of $12 million. It is currently the third highest grossing film of 2023 and is in theaters in Jamestown. It’s about a young girl named Cady who loses both of her parents in a car accident and is left in the care of her Aunt Gemma. To help Cady cope with the loss of her parents, Gemma builds an artificially intelligent humanoid android named M3GAN. M3GAN is programmed to be a friend to Cady and protect her. One incident leads to another and Gemma realizes that she is incapable of controlling what she has created. A second M3GAN movie has already started development. 

There’s a lot of buzz around modern cinema, some people can’t stand it and others choose to embrace it. Two smashing successes come out, Avatar: The Way of Water and The Whale. Yet their success yields completely different reactions from movie critics and lovers. The critics will go after Avatar for taking the easy way out and exploiting the first movie by turning it into a franchise. The Whale is celebrated for telling a unique and bold story that takes viewers out of their comfort zone. Everybody in the film industry is waiting for the next billion dollar movie, as long as it’s not Marvel, Star Wars or any other movie factory making it. Due in large part to massive fan bases, their box offices are more so guaranteed than earned.

This does not mean that cinema is dead but perhaps still recovering. In 2021 the worldwide box office totals was $19 billion, in 2022 that number rose to $26 billion. If that same leap is made in 2023 then the box office total should be around 35 billion by the end of the year, in 2019 the box office came in at $38.9 billion with 3,491 movies made. In relation, the number of films being made and the amount of revenue being generated is proportionate year to year. In 2020 1,995 films were released, that number rose to 2,188 films in 2021.  Although the increase in movies being made that year was small, the revenue had more than doubled. The potential to return to former glory is still completely intact. 

Upcoming films

February 3, 2023: Knock at the Cabin

February 10, 2023: Your Place Or Mine (Netflix)

February 17, 2023: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania 

February 24,2023: Cocaine Bear

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