BY ROBERT W. WELKOS
PARK CITY, Utah–There was excitement in the air at Eccles Theater here Tuesday night when a new 3-D movie hit this upscale ski resort where thousands of filmmakers and the news media are gathered for the Sundance Film Festival.
No, the 3-D movie that has people talking isn’t “Avatar.”
It’s “Cane Toads: The Conquest.”
Or, as director Mark Lewis likes to joke: “Avatoad.”
“What a lucky strike of genius,” the personable Aussie chuckles, noting that he never dreamed his little 3-D documentary about the massive cane toad invasion of Australia would be debuting at Sundance at the very same time “Avatar,” shot in both 2-D and 3-D format, has become the world’s biggest blockbuster ever.
“I’m scared I’m going to get sued by James Cameron and Rupert Murdoch (who’s 20th Century Fox released ‘Avatar’),” Lewis joked. “They have a lot of money at the moment to sue.”
There was such anticipation in the air at the “Cane Toads” premiere, that when the theater darkened and an image of a cane toad came on the screen, people actually cheered. Then the cane toad jumped at the camera and everyone in the audience who were outfitted with 3-D glasses jumped in their seats and screamed. At that very moment, a cane toad star was born.
Lewis didn’t set out to make a 3-D movie because of “Avatar” or because of Hollywood’s current embrace of the 3-D format. He simply thought it would be a good way to tell a story from the toad’s point of view.
“The ‘Avatar’ juggernaut has certainly made an audience aware of 3-D,” he said. “It has enriched the cinema experience and certainly to come out with a film nearly a month after ‘Avatar’ has come out in 3-D–a good film like ‘Avatar’ and a good film like ‘Cane Toads’–is a very good opportunity.”
Lewis’s film is an update on a documentary he made in 1988 called “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History.”
“The idea (for a sequel) has been bubbling around in my head now for 20-odd years,” Lewis said. “I did make a film 25 years ago and ever since I made that film, (it) inspired so much more cane toad folklore … because the film made the audience somewhat aware of the toad. Since the first film, there has been a lot of stuff come out about the toad and, of course, [...]
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BY ROBERT W. WELKOS