Dear Kate Winslet,
This open letter might come too late, but we need to try. It’s been reported that you’re planning to join James Cameron on the set of his latest blockbuster cash cows, in some kind of role in the upcoming Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5.
You might think that this is a smart career move – after all, Cameron directed you in Titanic, your career-defining role that turned you into a household name overnight and that went on to become the biggest, most successful movie of all time.
Considering that the first Avatar is the second highest grossing movie in history, you may also feel that getting in on the sequel action will ensure a nice, tidy stream of income for the foreseeable future.
The problem is that these movies probably aren’t going to do either of the things you’re hoping for. They’re not going to make a huge impact on the cultural landscape and earn you any kind of greater recognition, nor are they, let’s face it, going to end up breaking records for earning loads of money at the box office.
For proof that the Avatar sequels aren’t going to be well remembered once they’ve passed out of theaters, we need look no further than the original film’s legacy.
Avatar the first was lambasted at the time of its release for not being a particularly innovative movie. It has impressive visual effects, sure, and it pioneered 3D technology that’s still more or less around to this day, although it’s hard to tell whether that’s simply because movie theaters spent a lot of money buying 3D projectors, and they’re still trying to justify those costs.
In terms of its cultural impact, though, it’s pretty impressive just how empty Avatar has proven to be. This movie was one of the most-watched cinematic experiences in the history of the medium, and yet the vast majority of people couldn’t possibly tell you what the story was.
Nobody cosplays as the Na’vi, nobody quotes any of this movie’s lines in day-to-day conversation. Contrast this with Titanic, which, twenty years after its release, is still a cultural touchstone.
Who, went finding themselves at the prow of a boat, can resist throwing their arms wide and yelling about how they’re the king of the world? Who, when reclined awkwardly with their head resting on their hand or arm, isn’t tempted to this day to ask someone nearby to draw them like one of their French girls?
Titanic is leaps and bounds more culturally relevant than Avatar, even though it’s a much older film. If, dear Kate, you’re hoping to get the Titanic boost in popularity all over again, you’re never going to get it from a far-too-late sequel to a movie that everyone has collectively forgotten seeing.
But hey, maybe you’re just in this for the cash grab. Maybe James Cameron has promised you a lot of money to come back and hang out with him and his other legacy friends like Sigourney Weaver. Cameron is getting the band back together for purely financial reasons, hoping to make the new MCU, and the appeal of all that money must be hard to resist.
We all know you’re not above signing onto a dud film purely for the money – after all, you were in the Divergent franchise – but there’s a point when movie executives are going to start seeing your large paychecks versus the amount of money that your films are pulling in, and they’re going to start wondering whether you’re worth the price tag moving forward.
Nobody really cares about the Avatar sequels, so the box office attendance isn’t going to be a fraction of what the original film achieved. These movies are going to tank hard, and when that happens, nervous movie executives will be eager to throw anyone under the bus to avoid taking the blame for trusting James Cameron’s ridiculous multi sequel Get Rich Quick scheme.
Why did Avatar 2 make so much less money than Avatar 1, the executives will ask? Could it be that we all misjudged the popularity of an aging science fiction franchise that nobody likes? No! Of course not, our decisions are always flawless! This must be the fault of a new addition to the film! People must be sick of watching Kate Winslet in key roles!
Maybe this is all a bit hyperbolic, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where appearing in the Avatar series comes back to haunt your career.
We don’t want that. Nobody wants to see you suffer. We love you, Kate, and we only want you to be happy.
The last thing we want is for Avatar to tarnish your Hollywood reputation. James Cameron’s sci-fi saga may seem like a good idea, but it’s probably not going to go as well as you hope.
But hey, maybe we’re wrong to worry. Maybe Avatar 2 is going to be an even bigger financial and cultural success than the first movie.
We certainly hope so, Kate. For your sake, we hope this all works out fine.