A decade of wonder and tumult


On its opening weekend, I managed to snag a last-minute ticket to a sold-out IMAX screening of James Cameron’s Avatar. Like many moviegoers, I was overwhelmed by the visuals and underwhelmed by the story. The experience also left me with nausea, migraines and a temporary loss of peripheral vision, but in a way I was lucky—the theater in downtown Raleigh was sold out for all screenings over the next few days.

The spectacle of Avatar helped lead the 2009 box office to a record $10.6-billion year, even with an economic recession and many fans illegally downloading films such as Star Trek off the Internet. But Avatar‘s greatest achievement might be that its super-size 3-D experience has made it the kind of film people have to see in theaters, as opposed to waiting for DVDs and on demand.

But while blockbusters such as Avatar and the critically lambasted Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen have broken records, art house cinema faced a particularly tough year in 2009.

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