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Audiences Experiencing ‘Avatar’ Blues!!!

CNN) — James Cameron’s completely immersive spectacle “Avatar” may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.

On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

I wasn’t depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ,” Baghdassarian said. “But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don’t have here on Earth. I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed.”

A post by a user called Elequin expresses an almost obsessive relationship with the film.

That’s all I have been doing as of late, searching the Internet for more info about ‘Avatar.’ I guess that helps. It’s so hard I can’t force myself to think that it’s just a movie, and to get over it, that living like the Na’vi will never happen. I think I need a rebound movie,” Elequin posted.

A user named Mike wrote on the fan Web site “Naviblue” that he contemplated suicide after seeing the movie.

Ever since I went to see Avatar I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it,” Mike posted. “I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.’ ”

Other fans have expressed feelings of disgust with the human race and disengagement with reality.

Cameron’s movie, which has pulled in more than $1.4 billion in worldwide box office sales and could be on track to be the highest grossing film of all time, is set in the future when the Earth’s resources have been pillaged by the human race. A greedy corporation is trying to mine the rare mineral unobtainium from the planet Pandora, which is inhabited by a peace-loving race of 7-foot tall, blue-skinned natives called the Na’vi.

In their race to mine for Pandora’s resources, the humans clash with the Na’vi, leading to casualties on both sides. The world of Pandora is reminiscent of a prehistoric fantasyland, filled with dinosaur-like creatures mixed with the kinds of fauna you may find in the deep reaches of the ocean. Compared with life on Earth, Pandora is a beautiful, glowing utopia.

Ivar Hill posts to the Avatar forum page under the name Eltu. He wrote about his post-Avatar depression after he first saw the film earlier this month.

When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning,” Hill wrote on the forum. “It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”

Reached via e-mail in Sweden where he is studying game design, Hill, 17, explained that his feelings of despair made him desperately want to escape reality.

One can say my depression was twofold: I was depressed because I really wanted to live in Pandora, which seemed like such a perfect place, but I was also depressed and disgusted with the sight of our world, what we have done to Earth. I so much wanted to escape reality,” Hill said.

Cameron’s special effects masterpiece is very lifelike and the 3-D performance capture and CGI effects essentially allow the viewer to enter the alien world of Pandora for the movie’s 2½-hour run-time, which only lends to the separation anxiety some individuals experience when they depart the movie theater.

“Virtual life is not real life and it never will be, but this is the pinnacle of what we can build in a virtual presentation so far,” said Dr. Stephan Quentzel, psychiatrist and Medical Director for the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. “It has taken the best of our technology to create this virtual world and real life will never be as utopian as it seems onscreen. It makes real life seem more imperfect.”

Fans of the movie may find actor Stephen Lang, who plays the villainous Col. Miles Quaritch in the film, an enemy of the Na’vi people and their sacred ground, an unlikely sympathizer, but Lang says he can understand the connection people are feeling with the movie.

Pandora is a pristine world and there is the synergy between all of the creatures of the planet and I think that strikes a deep cord within people that has a wishfulness and a wistfulness to it,” Lang said. “James Cameron had the technical resources to go along with this incredibly fertile imagination of his and his dream is built out of the same things that other peoples’ dreams are made of.”

The bright side is that for Hill and others like him who became dissatisfied with their own lives and with our imperfect world after enjoying the fictional creation of James Cameron, becoming a part of a community of like-minded people on an online forum has helped them emerge from the darkness.

“After discussing on the forums for a while now, my depression is beginning to fade away. Having taken a part in many discussions concerning all this has really, really helped me,” Hill said. “Before, I had lost the reason to keep on living — but now it feels like these feelings are gradually being replaced with others.”

Quentzel said creating relationships with others is one of the keys to human happiness and that even if those connections are occurring online they are better than nothing.

“Obviously there is community building in these forums,” Quentzel said. “It may be technologically different from other community building, but it serves the same purpose.”

Within the fan community, suggestions for battling feelings of depression after seeing the movie include things like playing “Avatar” video games or downloading the movie soundtrack in addition to encouraging members to relate to other people outside the virtual realm and to seek out positive and constructive activities

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‘Avatar’ No. 1 again & Makes $1 billion @ World Box Office…

Thanks to astronomic word-of-mouth, inflated 3-D ticket prices, and consecutive holiday weekends that began on a Friday, “Avatar” continued its seemingly unstoppable climb to the Hallelujah Mountains of U.S. and global box office.

According to estimates from Hollywood.com Box Office, James Cameron’s sci-fi opus grossed $68.3 million over New Years weekend, a tiny 10 percent drop from Christmas weekend for a $352.1 million domestic total — easily the biggest third weekend in the U.S. ever (2002’s “Spider-Man” had held the record with $45 million).

Much more impressively, in just 17 days, “Avatar” has surpassed $1 billion in the global box office. To put that in perspective, it took “The Dark Knight” pretty much its entire theatrical run just to make it to that milestone. (Another landmark: $66.4 million of “Avatar’s” worldwide total is from IMAX theaters, a record for the mega-screen format.)

“Avatar” wasn’t the only film to ring in the new year with serious box-office bounty, either. “Sherlock Holmes” sleuthed out an elementary $38.4 million for second place, a 41 percent drop for $140 million total.

Hot on its heels, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” chirped to $36.6 million, dropping just 25 percent for $157 million total and third place. (So what will the inevitable third film be called? The Second Squeakquel? The Threakquel?)

“It’s Complicated” fell a bite-sized 15 percent, cooking up $18.7 million for fourth place and $59.1 million total.

And in fifth place, “The Blind Side” actually improved upon its total last week, rising 8 percent for $12.7 million and $209.1 million total. (As EW noted yesterday, this means star Sandra Bullock is the only actress ever to have a film marketed on her star power alone pass $200 million in U.S. box office.)

In fact, with no major debuts to steal away fresh audiences, it was simply a fabulous weekend to be in movie theaters, period. “Up in the Air” pitched down an imperceptible 3 percent with $11.3 million and $45 million total.

“The Princess and the Frog” hopped up 11 percent with $10 million and $86 million total. Even certified turkey “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” was up 4 percent, bringing in $5.2 million for a (still woeful) $25.6 million total.

Overall, the top ten box office was up 70 percent from last year, when “Marley and Me” was barking its way into filmgoers’ hearts.

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Avatar Captures #1 @ The Box Office…


1) Avatar – $75 million
2) Sherlock Holmes – $65.3 million
3) Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel – $50.2 million
4) It’s Complicated – $22.1 million
5) Up In The Air – $11.75 million
6) The Blind Side – $11.73 million
7) The Princess and the Frog – $8.6 million
8) Nine – $5.5 million
9) Did You Hear About The Morgans? – $5 million
10) Invictus – $4.3 million

It was a very busy holiday weekend at the box office, perhaps one of the busiest of all-time, as James Cameron’s 3D outer-space epic Avatar just barely beats out three highly-anticipated new holiday films to take the number one spot in the box office for a second week in a row. The film, which is now in approximately 3,456 theaters enjoyed some terrific word-of-mouth making $21,701 per theater for an additional $75 million in its second week of release. In two weeks the movie has now made an estimated $212 million, which is very close to recouping its purported $237 million production budget and is posed to make back the estimated $150 million that 20th Century Fox spent on marketing and advertising. However, right on it’s heels at second place was the long awaited, Guy Ritchie adapted, film of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle novels, Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. in the title role along with Jude law as his partner Watson and Rachel McAdams. The film, which was released in 3,626 theaters made a little over $18,000 per theater for a total of $65.3 million in it’s first week.

The fact that it was a holiday weekend and children were home from school for most of the week helped Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, a sequel to the popular 2007 film starring the singing critters, which opened on the Wednesday before Christmas. The movie, which was in 3,700 theaters made over $13,000 per theater for an opening weekend total of $50.2 million and a five day gross of $77 million. Coming in at fourth place was another newcomer to the charts, the Nancy Myers’ directed, romantic-comedy It’s Complicated starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. The film, which was in 2,887 theaters made approximately $7,660 per theater for an opening weekend total of roughly $22.1 million. Rounding out the top five, in it’s fourth week of release but it’s first week wide, was Up In The Air from Juno director Jason Reitman starring George Clooney as a traveling corporate axe-man. The film, which has already received several award nominations and has was doing quite well in limited release added 1,720 theaters this week for a total of 1,895 theaters were the film was shown and earned $6,203 per theater for a holiday weekend total of roughly $11.7 million. In fact, the film had an impressive 266.2% increase from last week for a total of $24.5 million so far, just shy of it’s making back it’s $25 million purported budget cost.

Opening in limited release this week was the late Heath Ledger’s final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus directed by film visionary Terry Gilliam. The movie, which was only seen in four theaters made a decent $32,500 per theater for a total of $130,000 in its debut week. Doing very well in limited release in its second week was the alcoholic-Country Music Singer redemption film, starring Jeff Bridges in a role that is sure to earn him an Oscar nomination and co-starring screen-legend Robert Duvall and Maggie Gyllanhaal. The film, which was added in eight theaters this week averaged $13,000 per theater for a total of $156,000, an increase of 88.7% from last week bringing its total gross up to $321,000 in its second week. However not doing so hot this week was the new film from acclaimed director Peter Jackson, The Lovely Bones, based on the beloved book of the same name, now in its third week of release. The film, which dropped 15.7% from last week, is still only being shown in three theaters and made a disappointing $12,667 per theater for a weekend total of $38,000 bringing its total gross only up to 273,000, a long way away from making back it’s purported budget of $100 million.

This Friday is New Year’s Day and unfortunately there are no new movies set for release. However, you can be sure that James Cameron’s Avatar and Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes will continue to battle it out for the number one spot with Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, George Clooney’s Up In The Air and Meryl Streep’s It’s Complicated hot on their heels. January 8th, 2010 will see the return of new movies to the box office as a slew of highly anticipated new films are scheduled for release. Check back in seven days to see who comes out on top at the box office next week and from all your friends at Movieweb please have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.

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