I'm not a big fan of Hollywood culture, but I love the movie industry. I think it's great that producers, directors, actors and investors work hard for a year and spend a couple hundred million dollars creating a product that faces an immediate--and often catastrophic--market test. Just think what would happen if National Public Radio, the Morrison Institute or Al Sharpton had to actually survive in the market....
Since Hollywood culture is liberal while nearly half of the country is Republican--and the largest political blockin the United States is Conservative--Hollywood executives have to temper their liberal instincts and make movies that Americans actually want to see...kind of like me getting a seven figure job writing speeches for Nancy Pelosi.
Since there's money involved, the grown ups who actually write the checks usually prevent the Director in a Che T shirt from inserting his world view in the final product. So while I know that Tom Hanks is liberal, I can still enjoy his movies--even his political movies like Forrest Gump and the very enjoyable Charlie Wilson's War.
Sometimes, Hollywood ideals line up perfectly with American sentiment and liberal movies make money...who can forget the Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now--which was the Deer Hunter plus Wagner and Napalm.
At other times, the country remains out of tune with Hollywood liberalism but Hollywood doesn't realize it and makes a series of expensive mistakes. That's why Lions for Lambs, Rendition, Valley of Elah, Redacted, and The Kingdom were expensive flops.
Which brings me to Avatar. Sure, I'm a big James Cameran fan; The Terminator movies were awesome, I loved True Lies, enjoyed Titanic and besides, he's left handed. He's also a leftist, but he usually leaves his views out of the final products.
That is Cameron left his views out of his final product until Avatar, which apparently about the Battle of Wounded Knee fought by Smurfs in 3D.
Sure, the buzz and novelty will bring Avatar $200 million but since the movie cost $500 million to produce and market it's going to have to actually have an enjoyable plot to move into the black. Even at the height of the Bush-is-the-worst-President-ever frenzy, movies that depicted American Marines as imperialist tools crushing the indigenous peoples in order to steal their resources on behalf of major US corporations wasn't a money making formula.
Maybe I'm wrong and Avatar will make $2 billion, but I don't think so. The mood of the country has gone decidedly to the right. The One wasn't the Messiah that everyone thought he was, and while Bush may have walked funny and mispronounced basic words, he didn't bow to the King of Saudi Arabia. So my guess is that American movie goers are looking for John Wayne not General Custer. Sure, the opening buzz for Avatar will be hugh and the media will do its best to keep the momentum going, calling the movie "important" and "provocative" but then everyone will go back and see Blind Side again.
But that's the beauty of the market.