Less than three months ago, anticipation was high. So high in fact that here at FemaleFirst we were counting down the days until its release.

James Cameron, the visionary director who made us all be slightly afraid of Arnold Schwarzenegger and shout 'I’m the king of the world' whenever we got on a boat was about to unleash his biggest movie yet.

After bringing the world of Pandora to the silver screen, and into the aisles with its eye-popping 3-D, under a fan-fare of hype and expectation, the film has gone on the beat nearly every record going in the world of cinema.

With an unprecedented $2.5 billion dollars in the bank so far, Avatar has not only exceeded all possible expectations, got James Cameron back on top of the Hollywood pile and propelled its stars to international fame.

The real question though is how did a film with no recognisable star or franchise attachment make it so big?

The release date itself should not be underestimated. Making the film come out in December was a masterstroke by whoever was in charge of the marketing.

With no clear competition, children coming onto their Christmas holidays and more adverts plastered up than you thought possible, the exposure for Avatar was huge. With the ability to then run on into the Christmas period itself it’s later opening date did the movie wonders.

Even the weather couldn’t stop Avatar romping to the head of the box office time and time again both here and in America, with the movie still top of the UK box office nearly three months after it was first released.

It just goes to show that give the public massive scale genre film, make it a fairly low certificate so that the parents can take the kids, and the money would just pour in.

There’s also small matter of the film itself. Even sceptics were blown away by the scale, imagination and intricacy of Pandora, by a story as old as time pulling on the heart-strings and action like never seen before on screen.

Reviews from around the world poured praise on the latest masterpiece (here at FemaleFirst we gave it five stars) from a director that had made so many timeless sci-fi classics. And Titanic.

And now after conquering the box office and demolishing any sense of competition, Avatar now aims its steam roller at the Oscars. This weekend we will finally see if James Cameron’s passion project will become the second of his films to win an Oscar.

The omens don’t look half-bad either, especially after the hugely unexpected success the film received at the Golden Globes. Much to everyone’s surprise the movie walked away with not only best Motion Picture Drama but also Best Director.

That James Cameron could be seen saying to his wife 'I won’t win this' as the camera whipped around the nominations says that even he didn’t expect the sort of recognition he has gotten.

This is all to do with awards ceremonies trying to broaden themselves to the public, trying to stop people generalising about awards ceremonies not looking at popular films. The Golden Globes showed this, giving awards to fan favourites such as Robert Downey Jr and The Hangover.

With the Oscars now allowing ten best film nominations, and having given one of them to indie sci-fi smash District 9 (a film that never would have been nominated before), it seems that all of the big, bad awards ceremonies in the US are softening a little to public appeal.

While the Academy doesn’t always agree with the panel who decide the Golden Globes, see the case of Brokeback Mountain for example, it’s usually a good bet that whatever they go crazy for, the Academy follows.

On Sunday, this will become a battle of David and Goliath between Avatar and The Hurt Locker for the biggest prizes. If Hurt Locker wins, it will become the lowest grossing winner of all time, a stark difference than the movie that’s made more cash in less than three months that most countries make in a year.

So after doubts from the outside the Avatar would ever make its colossal budget back, and the jeers and cat calls of the film being simply a remake of Pocahontas (even comedy cartoon South Park called it Dancing with Smurfs) the film that came to James Cameron in 1994 has blown away all the pre-conceived ideas about it.

Not only did it amaze both audiences and the 20th Century Fox’s executives, but it has received more critical and award recognition than it could have dreamed of, even if it doesn’t win on Sunday.

Avatar came along at the right time, when people wanted to escape a world crushing under the pressure of a global recession and the winter nights were closing in. To escape to Pandora leafy jungles and clear skies was something bigger than just a movie as James Cameron created an entire world on screen.

Nothing like the sensation of Avatar had been seen before, and until it’s follow up, it doesn’t seem like anything will again.

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith

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