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.
Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation (which I have read and presented), A Whole New Mind (which I have read) and his new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (which I am reading, and will present), is speaking in Dallas tonight. I plan to attend, so I thought I would read up a little on him.
Here are two items, unrelated to each other, from his blog:
Item #1: A credo from Harrison Ford (from an interview in Parade):
“When I was a carpenter, I once worked with this Russian lady architect. I would tell her, ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, but I want to change that a half inch,’ and she would say, ‘No limit for better.’ I think that is a worthy credo. You keep on going until you get it as close to being right as the time and patience of others will allow.”
No limit for better. Good advice for a Monday.
Item #2: And a reminder of the great value of conversations on NPR (including our local Think host, Krys Boyd):
The way ideas spread is pretty simple: Conversation by conversation. One engaged person talks with another engaged person — and out of that daisy chain of human interactions come new ways to navigate our lives.
One of the best and most enduring forums for conversation is public radio. And in the past week, I’ve had the good fortune to talk about the ideas in Drive with several National Public Radio journalists. Here’s a sampler:
1. Morning Edition. A talk with Madeline Brand.
2. Talk of the Nation. Host Neal Conan invited listeners to tell their stories about motivation at work — which brought forth examples of the very good and the very bad.
3. Local programs. Some of the best journalism in this country goes on at the local level. Visiting with hosts like Washington’s Kojo Nnamdi, Philadelphia’s Marty Moss-Coane, Dallas’s Krys Boyd, and the Twin Cities’ Kerri Miller, I learned a lot about both the possibilities and limits of these ideas.
If, er, you’d like to join the conversation, please do…’
Daniel Pink – a name to add to your “ I should read his books” list. And now, now that I’ve discovered it, I have to add his blog to my reading list. So many books; so many blogs; so little time…