A blockbuster film might seem like an unlikely source for financial planning lessons. Yet, there are some surprising things you can learn from director James Cameron’s approach to the Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water.
The first Avatar film hit screens back in 2009. It is the highest-grossing film of all-time thanks to its stunning visuals – worldwide, the film has taken more than $2.8 million (£2.3 million). It was also a success during awards season and scooped three Academy Awards for art direction, cinematography, and visual effects.
Yet, despite the achievements of the film, it’s taken 13 years for the sequel to screen in cinemas. So, what can James Cameron teach you about managing your finances?
1. Know what’s important to you
One of the reasons the original Avatar film captured audiences was the incredible visuals. At the time, they were ground-breaking – more than half the film was created with realistic computer-generated images (CGI). It used motion capture suits and head rigs with cameras to pick up even the tiniest facial movements of the actors.
It meant viewers could be fully immersed in the world of Pandora.
Once again, visuals are playing a crucial role in the sequel, with Cameron developing new technology especially for the film.
Setting out your priorities when creating your goals is just as important. It can help you balance different aspirations and avoid disappointment.
2. Take your time
While it would be fantastic to meet all your financial goals in a matter of weeks, the truth is that it takes time.
If you’re investing, you’ll need a long-term outlook as the market can be volatile in the short term. If speed is your focus, you could end up making decisions that aren’t right for you. You may be tempted to take more risk than is appropriate in a bid to potentially secure higher returns or try to time the highs and lows of the market.
Other areas of financial planning mean you need to take an approach that considers years rather than weeks or months too. Ensuring you’re secure in retirement often means saving over several decades. Or you may be thinking about how you can support children with an inheritance.
So, take a leaf out of Cameron’s book here and recognise that taking your time to reach your goal can be a good thing.
3. Using the right tools is crucial
Not having the necessary technology available right after the release of Avatar is one of the reasons why the sequel has taken so long to hit screens.
Cameron has developed new technology to film performance capture scenes underwater, a feat never accomplished before. Many of the cast also learnt how to free-dive to make the scenes as realistic as possible.
While it led to numerous delays, Cameron recognised how important having the right tools was.
Luckily, your financial security isn’t going to depend on developing new technology. However, choosing the right tools is still important.
If you’re saving, should you be using an easy access cash account or an ISA? Or should you be thinking about investing instead? It will all depend on your financial circumstances and goals, which is why choosing the right option can help you get the most out of your money while providing the flexibility you need.
4. Create a long-term plan, but be prepared to adapt
In the film industry, plans for further films are often dependent on the success of the previous one. Yet, to achieve his long-term plan, Cameron has actually shot Avatar 2 and 3 back-to-back. Some work has even started on the fourth instalment of the franchise to ensure there is footage of younger cast members at the correct age.
With ideas for seven films in total and a release schedule that goes up to 2028, a careful, long-term plan is very much needed for the Avatar franchise.
When it comes to financial planning, you could be thinking about things that are decades away, from retirement to supporting your children as they reach adulthood. So, a plan that’s tailored to your goals is crucial.
Having a plan is important, but so is recognising when you should adapt.
Both Avatar and Avatar 2 faced numerous delays. Production of The Way of Water was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, which led to further delays in the theatrical release.
Regularly reviewing your plans and how outside factors could affect them can help you reach your goals, even if you have to take an unexpected route.
5. Spend money on the things that are important to you
A film that Cameron himself described as “the worst business case in movie history” in an interview with Screen Rant might not seem like his approach can help you with financial planning, but there are still lessons to be learnt.
The delays and need to develop new technology mean that Avatar: The Way of Water had an enormous budget. Just to break even, it will need to be the third- or fourth-highest-grossing film in history, Cameron explained.
Of course, Cameron wants the film to be a commercial success, but it’s something of a passion project too. He first had the idea for the franchise in 1994 and had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve. So, the Avatar series is about more than making money – it’s about legacy too.
Spending money to reach your goals can be more difficult than you think. Some retirees struggle to switch from a saving mindset to depleting their assets, even if they have enough. It means you can miss out on opportunities to do the things you’ve been looking forward to.
What’s important is that your spending considers long-term goals and financial security. Cameron has the wealth to create his Avatar vision and, after a financial review, you may find you have enough to pursue your dreams too.
Contact us to talk about your financial goals and plans
Whether you want to know if you can book the incredible round-the-world trip you’ve always wanted to do or want to start creating a long-term plan, we can help. We’ll work with you to bring together your goals and finances. Contact us to arrange a meeting.
Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.
The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.