James Cameron’s 3D game-changer Avatar may end up costing upwards of $500 million to produce and market, but, strangely, no one at the studio is losing sleep over the possibility of a flop. The business just isn’t the same as it used to be, when the collapse of a blockbuster could in turn bring down a studio. Multiple financial partners, in-house advertising opportunities, and a new approach to the business of filmmaking spread the risk—and the potential wealth.
In 1997, Fox was on the line for a full half of the $300 million budget for Cameron’s Titanic. These days, though the company is 3 times bigger, outside partners have taken at least 60% of the cost of the flick. And what of Cameron, who has invested a significant amount of his own treasure in developing new 3D technology while agreeing to recoup his investment only if receipts pass a certain mark? Even if Avatar flatlines, he can sell the cool new gadgets. “We’re turning it into a business,” a collaborator tells the New York Times. (Read more James Cameron stories.)