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Sometimes it pays too much to be a film-maker. With over $2 billion in the bank, James Cameron's Avatar is the highest grossing movie in recent box office history. The long-drawn science fiction epic about humanity's blindness for commercial gain on distant planets and Cameron's penchant for hyper-real action, had recently out-grossed international record made by Titanic.

In its 8th week running, Avatar has so far pulverised The Golden Globes, where it took off with Best Motion Picture — Drama and Best Director categories. The Globes, in the coming months bundled with The Producers Guild of America Awards (The PGA), The Writers Guild Awards (WGA), The Directors Guild (DGA) and to some extent the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTA's), decide who will win the grand-daddy of all award ceremonies The Academy Awards (better known as the Oscars).

The Globes, governed by a 95-member judging committee of international journalists sometimes swing in favor of movies that have done tremendous business worldwide. This year's blunt decision to award box-office faring movies resulted in big wins for Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr., Best Actor - Comedy); The Blind Side (Sandra Bullock for Best Actress - Drama) and astonishingly the raunchy comedy The Hangover (Best Picture — Comedy).

Commercially speaking, Holmes made $394 million worldwide, The Blind Side scraped in $237 million domestically and The Hangover did $467 million worldwide. I stagger to think if Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakquel would have been nominated as well (or the weepy vampire saga Twilight New Moon).

Making substantial money at the box-office relies on strategically planned marketing and release dates that rake in people tagged by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). The popular ones are G (General Audience), PG (Parental Guidance), PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned), R (Best Restricted Adults) and NC-17 (definitely not for the kiddies). Avatar was strategically restricted to PG-13 and targeted at December 18-20th Christmas weekend. With high expectations, a massive and fine tuned media campaign, the motion picture turned in $77 million.

It is my prediction at this time that Avatar will continue a steady box-office up until the Oscars. Presumably between $2.4-2.6 billion. The huge earnings will tilt favorably on Oscar time (Re both Titanic and Lord of the Rings Return of the King). Apparently, Unobtanium isn't the only wealthy aspect in Avatar.

Of love and video game-like war

Avatar has Sam Worthington's Jake Sully's character lip-locking with Zoe Saldana's blue-skinned Pandoran Neyteri. When not consummating, they are together 60-70 per cent of the movie. That's about as much time as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet spent together in Titanic.

But Avatar's package relies on more than inter-species mingling. Forgetting its technical brilliance for a second, the movie blends formula, hardcore action for action buffs, romance for the ladies and photo-realistic special effects and animation for the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 driven lads and lasses; and an all-to-plain story written in simplified English (and ludicrous dialogues).

One of the first things to hit me, when watching Avatar (apart from seeing the most photo-realistic aliens ever) was that I was watching a video-game. True, stereoscopic 3D has its merits and the details on Pandora were breathtaking, Avatar felt and moved like a first person RPG (Role Playing Game). There was once a time when video games tried to rise to the level of movies in terms of digitised effects. Now, the movie has become a game, right down to the Leonopteryx (the flying creature) chase.

Even though Cameron says he has visited Pandora in a dream and then eventually stumbled on the central idea of the movie, the storyline lightly touches the structure of Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars. In the novel John Carter, a civil war veteran is transported to Mars and ends up as a resistance fighter who falls in love with the princess of his tribe, Dejah Thoris.

During his stay on Mars, John Carter's earthly body rests in a specialised tomb. Jake Sully is an effective update by Cameron. Other inspirations include echoes of Dances with Wolves, The Emerald Forest and Laputa (aka Hayao Miyazaki's Castles in the Sky) styled floating Hallelujah Mountains, originally inspired in part from the Huang Shan Mountains in China.

Avatar's canvas is big, and on the background, very intelligent. But enough to stimulate the brain cells.

When Cameron won the Globe for Best Director, he said he thought the award was going to go to The Hurt Locker, the Iraq based bomb-disposal thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow.