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The 'Avatar' Buzz is Building

The first reviews of James Cameron's "Avatar" are out and the buzz is building. Despite some early questionable talk about the huge-budget film—20th Century Fox says it cost around $300 million, some reports put the budget much higher—it's now on track to be an enormous hit.

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Source: avatarmovie.com

I saw the movie at a screening last night (and now that the embargo has been lifted) I have to say that it doesn't disappoint. The effects are amazing, and Cameron really does create a whole other world. Though I'm usually the first to complain about any movie over 2 hours, but this one, at 2:40, was entertaining and visually stunning the whole time.

There are a half-dozen fan sites devoted to the movie -- avatar-movie.org, avatarplanet.net, plus destinations on Facebook and MySpace. Popular movie fan sites like Aintitcool.com and Rottentomatoes.com, are chattering about the film; Rotten Tomatoes' reviews rate it at 94 percent so far.

The movie has been such a hot topic today, there are even reports that some of the fan sites suffered temporary outages as waves of eager moviegoers crashed the sites.

Movie ticket sites Fandango.com (owned by Comcast which has agreed to buy NBC Universal and CNBC fromGE ) and Movietickets.com are already filling theaters-- promoting pre-sales on their sites. And movie theater chains are counting on people packing the 3-D screenings, which cost more than regular 2-D. Not to mention all the popcorn and sodas they'll sell. The one downside for theaters is that the length will prevent them from scheduling as many showings in a day as if it were a 90 minute film.

It's not just 20th Century Fox, theater chains, and fan websites, who will benefit. Next week I'll dig into all the companies—including Imax and McDonalds who will cash in on the Avatar phenomenon.

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