After a day of food and fun with our granddaughter, the undisputed center of the household at the moment (when she is in town), we settled down to watch Avatar. (Yes, I had seen it at the theater).
There are a lot of ways to look at this film. Here is one: it is the battle between Motivation 2.0 and Motivation 3.0 (Daniel Pink’s terms). The context: the corporate profit seekers need the Navi to move away from their beautiful home, in order to turn a greater profit.
Here’s the relevant dialogue (from the script, found here):
So — who talks them into moving?
What if they won’t go?
I’m betting they will.
Killing the indigenous looks bad, but there’s one thing shareholders hate more
than bad press — and that’s a bad quarterly statement. Find me a carrot to
get them to move, or it’s going to have to be all stick. (emphasis added).
Jake is shaken by the enormity of this new responsibility.
You got three months. That’s when the dozers get there.
I’m on it.
Selfridge, the “company man,” is the one who uses the imagery of carrots and sticks. Here is his character bio from imdb:
Parker Selfridge is the “company man” on Pandora, the Chief Administrator for RDA. He’s in charge of all the mining operations on the planet and determined not the let the ‘natives’ stand in his way. He’d like to use diplomacy- largely because it looks better from a PR standpoint- but is prepared to use force if necessary.
Well, if you have seen Avatar, you know that carrots and sticks did not win the day. The Navi are fully devoted Motivation 3.0 followers, finding their motivation from within, true intrinsic motivation – motivation that leads them to the greatest of sacrifice.
So, yes, as I watched the movie I thought of the motivation insight from Daniel Pink’s DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Here is his own twitter summary of his book (in Pink’s own words, from the end of the book):
“Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”
I think it is interesting that in the midst of the story of Avatar, James Cameron reveals just how outmoded carrots and sticks are in an evolved community.
News item: Avatar is now the greatest money maker in movie history
In the last few days, I saw Avatar, and I read an intriguing article about Harrison Ford.
Avatar is now the all-time money maker for movies. (It is helped by ticket prices at least as high as $13.00 for the 3D experience). The budget for making the movie has still not been revealed, but it is now very clear that it was worth every penny. And many, many of those pennies went into the development of and use of new technology for 3D. I am no movie critic, but here is my take: the story was well-told, though clearly borrowed from other sources. But the 3D – well, it was innovation worth waiting for. It was spectacular. (The book I presented at the January First Friday Book Synopsis, Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t by Kevin Maney, started with the story of the technological innovation developed for Avatar).
The actor who could once carry an entire franchise now has yet another box office bomb in Extraordinary Measures. Richard Rushfield on the downward spiral of Ford’s career.
I have been a Harrison Ford fan (as was everybody for quite a few years), but I have noticed that his box office mojo has definitely been slipping. (Extraordinary Measures, in its opening weekend, was extraordinarily anemic at 8th place, with barely $6 million).
The Rushfield piece reflects at length on the decline of Ford’s popularity, but it boils down to this – he is a one-note actor.
As one-note as Ford’s performances were, audiences seemed never to tire of that note. Until one day, they did.
What is the business lesson? It is that the day will come that if you are still doing things the way you did them yesterday, the audience/customers will disappear. And to avoid that, you simply have to keep innovating. Innovate or fade away. Those are the choices. Cameron is quite an innovator. Ford, not so much.
Rushfield said it directly:
Business seminars could use the Ford implosion as a case study to show the need to remain agile and change with the times.
Watching “Avatar,” I felt sort of the same as when I saw “Star Wars” in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron’s film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his “Titanic” was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.
“Avatar” is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It’s a technical breakthrough.
News item : coming soon to a theater near you, a 3-D version of Star Wars.
Innovation. It drives the economy, it changes our world, it is unstoppable. And when a paradigm changes, everything changes, and everyone gets on board. If they don’t, they are left in the dust.
Avatar has gone over $1.1 billion in ticket sales, and is now the second highest grossing movie ever world-wide. (Yes, James Cameron is now #1 and #2). The book Trade-off by Kevin Maney begins with a story of the author’s interview with the man who developed the 3-D technology for the film. And seeing Avatar in a theater is an example of a genuine high-fidelity experience.
Well, the news of the 3-D craze is building. There are already steps being taken to turn some earlier action films into 3-D. Here are excerpts from the article Avatar sparks 3-D makeover for action classics from the Timesonline (UK):
Hollywood is preparing to re-release some past hits, including Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in 3-D following the record-breaking success of Avatar.
Studio executives are drawing up schedules of popular films that will be “retro-fitted” with 3-D technology after the science fiction blockbuster, directed by James Cameron, last week became the second highest grossing movie of all time.
Retro-fitting a screen classic with 3-D imagery could take as little as four months, using software to manipulate a digital copy of the film.
Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings, said last spring that he wanted to reissue the trilogy in 3-D if Avatar persuaded enough cinemas to put in new 3-D projectors. Last week technicians at Weta, the production company that had worked on the trilogy, said they had experimented with 3-D battle scenes and proclaimed them to be “gob-smacking”.
The Lord of the Rings is expected to be re-released after Jackson has finished producing the two-part version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit over the next two years. This would mean that a 3-D version of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of the trilogy, could be in cinemas by Christmas 2012.
The “Avatar effect” means that conventional 2-D films commissioned last year are already being updated. Sir Ridley Scott has asked for a further $8m from his backer, Universal Films, to add an extra dimension to his untitled Robin Hood venture starring Russell Crowe in the lead role and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian. Two versions of the film will be released in May.
Imagine Top Gun, The Matrix, and many other movies reissued with the new 3-D technology. And for those of us who love Star Wars, here is the news:
(The Lord of the Rings) may be beaten to the screen by a revamped version of Star Wars. George Lucas, the director, spent $13m filming the original in 1976, added special effects in 1997 and 2004, and will now spend another $10m to change it into a 3-D spectacular.
“George cannot leave it alone,” said an associate. “He is salivating at the opportunity to play with it again. This time the Death Star is really going to explode all over the audience and leave them gasping.”
So, the news is about 3-D changing the movie going experience, providing new life to film makers, movie theaters, and movie lovers.
But the underlying news is this: when an innovation hits, the right one at the right time, everything changes, and everyone has to adjust. This could be just such a time.