There was a line of thought that Avatar would create an environment in Hollywood where science fiction would be seen as something other than blast-em-ups. That this film would teach Hollywood that original stories can sell.
This line of thought comes from not really understanding Hollywood.
Here’s what Hollywood has taken from Avatar: 3D. That’s first and foremost. The next thing taken from Avatar: mocap. And that’s definitely what Roland Emmerich has learned, and it’s something he’ll apply to his adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.
“The ‘Avatar’ technology applies to ‘Foundation,’ ” Emmerich said. “It has to be done all CG because I would not know how to shoot this thing in real.”
I don’t even begin to understand why CG would be needed in a faithful adaptation of the Foundation books, as all of the characters are human and most of the story is about people talking about stuff. Even the mutant character of The Mule just looks like a dude. The crux of Asimov’s stories are about huge sweeping changes that takes place in societies, and about the small moments that contribute to that change, but these moments rarely involve large scale battle or disaster and in fact the large scale battles and disasters usually take place offscreen. I’ve always kind of envisioned a Foundation adaptation in the form of a BBC miniseries, like I, Claudius.
Of course the finer points of Asimov’s work were going to be lost the moment that Emmerich was announced, but now we know that we can thrill to council meetings in 3D mocap. I can’t even imagine how radically different Robert Rodat’s script is going to be from the real books.
By the way, Emmerich has a very mercenary view of 3D, one that I believe most people in Hollywood share: “It’s not only the effect of 3-D, [‘Avatar’ has] just shown that if you do a movie in 3-D, you can ask for more money and that’s the trick.” He left out the fact that 3D hurts piracy, but higher ticket prices are a huge part of the appeal for the studios.