Thursday, 7 January 2010

Who are the target audience and how have they been targeted?

¨ Avatar attracts and appeals to many audiences but more specifically to:

- males
- sci-fi/technology enthusiasts
- gamers
- teenagers of both genders

¨ With the great special effects, CGI and 3D technology, Avatar reaches out to all those interested in having and enjoying a new experience at the cinema. Sci-fi/technology enthusiasts will be interested in the film due to all the hype created about the outstanding technology used and will want to judge for themselves and see exactly what the hype is all about.

¨ People were able to access the film websites and download/share data across iPods and phones allowing people to view trailers/photos and other media related to the film at accessible reach, anytime, anywhere. This appealed to those interested in technology.

¨ An Avatar game was released to all gaming platforms such as PS3, Wii and Xbox360 so this appealed to gamers. The game was like many others – full of action, adventurous, animated. This appealed to young males. From this, these people were more likely to want to go and see the film as they would have played the game.

¨ Teenagers have been targeted through the use of the Facebook/Twitter Avatar pages. Teenagers are the main users of these networks so therefore would have been targeted.

¨ Trailers of the film were shown during other films that the target audience were most likely to watch. This way, it attracted the intended audience.

¨ YouTube’s homepage was also taken over across 15 different countries with an Avatar masthead and a trailer of the film. YouTube is accessed by millions of people everyday so therefore they would have all seen it and so been made more aware of the film. It also shows that the film appeals to many audiences as hundreds of different audiences go onto the site.

¨ The UK London premiere made the BBC 10pm news which reached out to older audiences, such as parents and teenagers. This ties in with the 12A certificate meaning children younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult over 18 years of age. This means younger children who want to view it are most likely to be taken by their parents who will also sit through and watch the film. These parents could have been targeted and gained more information about the film through the slot on the news following the premiere.

¨ Other ways in which the audiences were targeted include through the plot and genre of the film – action/sci-fi adventure which targets people interested in such films, the actors involved in the film – fans would be interested in seeing actors new roles and from the director himself James Cameron who also directed the major hit Titanic which holds the all time box office record. This would make people interested in his latest film to see if it lives up to expectations and whether it is as good as his previous films.

Where and how is the film being exhibited in the UK?

¨ The release date of the film was the 18th December worldwide.

¨ Not only is the film shown in leading cinemas around the UK but also in the IMAX which attracts large audiences due to its large screens which compliment Avatars 3D technology. Tickets for Avatar at the IMAX were on sale ahead of the film release in order to be able to cope with the high demand. 35,000 tickets were sold in just 4 days. IMAX cinema also had to schedule extra screenings of the film at 12:20 and 3:40 in the morning.

¨ On average the film was shown around 6 times a day in cinemas with Enfield Cineworld showing the film around every hour with 8 screenings during the week days and 11 on the weekends.

¨ There is also the option to watch the film in 2D so cinemas without 3D technology can also show the film and people not willing to pay more are also able to experience the film for themselves.


¨The table shows Avatar’s box office returns for its first week of release. The film was ranked 1st and smashed all other weekend totals and was the most popular film over that weekend.


The Avatar marketing campaign is an excellent example of synergy used to create a much wider audience to market to, and 'sells' the film to them more successfully. The marketing was done by 20th Century Fox, which cost $150 to carry out on such a big scale, worldwide.

The internet is the biggest venue for marketing, with it appealing to a large audience much easier along with reaching a large proportion of their target audience: teenagers and young adults. The film had two websites on which it displayed all types of media to do with the film.

  • The Official Website (See Official Avatar Movie Website in Links). This had links to all the aspects to do with the film such as trailers, an interactive download to further more build on the target audience being youngsters, songs from the film and toys etc. This is the main website that sees it from the angle of being an exclusive film to see. It first shows a page with the films accomplishments already with reviews from big magazines and award nominations, before going to show the full trailer. It then goes to the site where you can browse through the different features.
  • The AVTR website (see Links). The second website is one to do with the narrative and draws the audience into the film, with it being a fully interactive site. The AVTR site is a fictional website to do with the Military operation taking place on Pandora, and invited the user to recruit. This interacts with the audience, but also makes the whole experience more real and makes the film feel like a possibility and not a fantasy, drawing more viewers to see the film. This then ties in with Coke and has an advertising deal with them, with it being advertised on their merchandise as shown above. They even created a teaser with the Coke advertising to promote the film further. The advert even incorporates the 3D technology and the stunning visual aspects that you get to see within the movie by placing the viewer not in front of the film, but in front of the screen with the aircraft coming out of the screen.

  • Facebook was another medium on which Avatar advertised its film, along with marketing on Twitter, mySpace, youtube and flickr. These social networking sites all meant more and more youth finding out more about the film, which was a big chunk in the target audience for the film. Teenagers and young adults being the majority of film goers meant that they were the ones that Avatar needed to appeal to for the film to be such an success; and the fact that it was such a success proves that these viral campaigns were essential to create word of mouth over the internet, at schools, colleges, universities etc. and even at work. The Facebook page for film has over 700,000 fans already, and even more on Twitter and mySpace.

Youtube was one of the biggest contributers to the marketing campaign created, with the initial trailer for the film alone having over 8 million views so far, a huge number of people that the campaign is targeting to go and watch the film This also allowed the audience to rate the trailer and leave comments, which could be useful research towards any other marketing ventures they decide to embark on such as another trailer.

TV Spot - This was also a huge advertising campaign, with it showing a very short teaser and the minute long teaser. These were perhaps the most successful at attracting the audience as they appeared on during peak times which was very expensive but got across the film to more people. They also appeared mostly on channels like e4 that is watched regularly by young people, therefore not wasting their advertising on people that wont want to watch the film.

Avatar Game - The film also had a game for it that was advertised at the same time so that it could be released when there is the most interest in the film and teenagers want to buy the game. The game itself had its own trailer too, another way in the film was reaching out into other platforms by achieving a game for games console and also for the Apple iPod touch or iPhone.

This all shows how 20th Century Fox covered all the platforms and advertised the film like no other before, in so many different ways and on such a huge scale, which is the reason for the films success and record breaking billion dollar revenue in just 17 days. The $150 million used were put to good use in the marketing campaign, as we can see all around us.

How has the UK theatrical distribution of the film been managed in order to ensure the film's success in the UK?

¨ The distribution company behind the film was 20th Century Fox, a leading American distribution company.

¨ Avatar had a world premiere on December 10th in London’s Leicester Square before an audience of 3,000 at the Odeon and Empire cinemas. Some members of the cast were present to give interviews and they also gained attention from the audience and the media resulting in further publicity.

¨ The film had gained advanced publicity previously on the 21st August in which a 15 minute extract of the film was shown by 14 cinemas. This was the first taster of the film and what was to come.

¨ Avatar’s release date was December 18th 2009. The film release date was delayed to this date in order to allow cinemas to invest in 3D projectors so the film could be shown in both 2D and 3D. The film went for a Christmas release which allowed a large period of time from when the 15 minute extract was shown in August to the actual release of the film. This helped gain as much audience interest as possible. Christmas time is also best to reap in large audiences and cater to wider audiences too as people have more time during the holidays to go to the cinema so the film attracted all different audience types.

¨ The distribution company went for a saturated release, releasing the film in over 500 cinemas around the UK, each showing the film on at least 2 screens. This increased the success of the film and brought its opening weekend total to just over $159 million worldwide. The film later on went to smash the $1billion mark making it one of the most successful films ever made.

¨ The film was released at a time where there would be not much competition. Other films released in the cinema included Alvin and The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel, St Trinians 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold, Humpday and Nine. These films targeted different audiences and due to the fact that two of them were sequels, their audiences had already been gained. Also none of these films had the same technology as Avatar and were not big blockbusters.

Audience Response

  • Critics all over have given Avatar top marks, as it broke nearly every record in the book. Now the third biggest grossing film of all time with $1.09 billion in record breaking 19 days, it continues to jump up the ranks and attempts to overtake Titanic, the last James Cameron film, to become the biggest grossing film of all time.
  • Being released worldwide in the space of 2 days between 16th and 18th december, the film made $232 million its opening weekend worldwide, with only $77 million of it coming from its domestic market in the US. Its viral campaign and marketing on so many different levels seemed to have paid off with the reviews flooding in and most of them being positive.

  • Rotten Tomatoes reported that 82% of the 241 reviews of the film were positive, a very high percentage. Even more impressive however, was that out of its 34 top critics consisting of many top newspapers, websites and television program critics, 94% gave it positive reviews, an incredibly high percentage.
  • There have also been negative reviews about the film with the spare 18% or even low 6% of top critics not too happy with the film. Some reviewed it as "overlong, dramatically two-dimensional, smug and simplistic". Although found that the film had amazing visual qualities but lacked when it came to the story and even the entire concept of the film, saying it was the same as 'Dancing with Wolves' but just with 'blue cat people' instead. However this is to be expected with any film, and seeing that there is only a minority of people that feel this way the film is still seen as a success, and according to Metacritic, 'Universal acclaim'.
  • The film has been recieved very well with many potential Awards in its name. It has been nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards and 9 Critics' Choice Movie Awards, with it being a serious contender in the 'Best Picture' category for both. The films success in the box office is also seeing it to be a very likely nomination for 'Best Picture' in the 82nd Academy Awards, which could mean that Cameron has another Oscar winner on his hands.


How was the film produced to appeal to the audience?

  • Has been in production for fifteen years, starting with James Cameron writing a script of over 100 pages back in 1994.
  • The film was a project that was originally intended for release after his blockbuster Titanic, the highest-grossing film of all time. The film was intended for release around 1999, but Cameron didn't believe the technology at the time would do the film justice, and decided to wait.
  • A dream project of his in the back of his mind for years; he wanted to create a film with all aspects combined such as creature creation, performance capture and the outstanding 3D technology with the new 3D Fusion Camera System.
  • The film was brought back into production in 2006, after Cameron saw the advancement in technology with iconic computer generated characters such as 'Gollum' in The Lord Of the Rings franchise, and 'Captain Davy Jones' in The Pirates Of the Carribean trilogy.
  • He started work on the Na'vi language firstly, with linguist Paul Frommer creating a complete language for Cameron, and then helping teach the actors that would have to speak it in the film.
  • The film was then in production for four and a half years, and went through many stages and procedures to create the masterpiece, including designing of some of their camera equipment themselves as the technology available to them didn't reach the high expectations Cameron had.

Performance Capture Technology - The film used the largest ever performance capture stage, six times bigger than anything ever used for Hollywood before, to capture the motion of the actors later to be depicted in their avatars. Over 70% of the footage was built with CGI technology, but Cameron stressed many times how this was no ordinary animation, and wanted to get the true movement into the characters, and so used performance capture which meant that around 95% of the actors motions were successfully transferred, literally channelling themselves to their avatar in the real world and in the narrative. Cameron also attempted to crank up the realism by improving the way the suits captured the actors' facial expressions, using a skull cap with a camera enhancement that closely monitored their eyes, mouth and other small movements.The volume was rigged with 120 camers making it possible to record all of the actors in the scene at once, in 3D.

3D Fusion - The film was to be an experience to normal viewers watching it in 2D screenings, but the 3D technology was truly captivating and was a major factor that appealed to the audience. The original 3D viewing meant red and blue tinted glasses, and objects jumping out of the screen at you. However, this has changed for the better and with Cameron's Fusion Camera System he could film in a revolutionary way. He also made it clear that he was not shooting a '3D film' with objects springing out at the audience without notice. He filmed the footage in his own style, and any moments that he felt needed adaptation for 3D were changed; this giving a much more realistic feel to the 3D and resulting in a stunning 3D experience in which the viewer submerges, forgetting everything else.


Genre - The genre of the film was from the start not intended to be a Science fiction. James Cameron wanted his idea to be expressed as an Action/Adventure/Fantasy with a love story that entwined with all the others. This was one of the great things about the film - it didn't attract one specific genre loving type, but incorporated them all into one film to generate a much bigger audience to base the film for. The action/adventure attracted a lot of the male young generation, from teens to young adults, with the outstanding action sequences and the adventure of exploring the Na'vi colonies appealing to all kinds of cinema-goers. This combined with the fantasy and sci-fi aspect of the film with the abundance of technology shown in the futuristic narrative meant that no-one would go home unsatisfied.

Gender - Many thought of Avatar to be a male dominated film - the main character would be male, the film would be all about action and the people who would go to see it would all be men. This conception was shown to be totally wrong when Neyteri (lead woman in the film performed by Zoe Saldana) was shown to be a strong woman, an aspect very popular is James Cameron's films. Her strength and importance in the film appeals to a lot of women to go and see the film; she is the most important character after Jake Sully, and the impact that she has on him and the storyline is an attractive feature to all women, which makes this film for everyone, further increasing its appeal. The love story between Neyteri and Jake is also an appealing factor, along with the emotion shown throughout the film by her and the other women such as Grace and Mo'at.

- The current film poster to the film, compared to the old poster as shown at the start.