Can a movie studio make money on a film based on an original and unfamiliar story, with no Hollywood superstars, a vanishing DVD market and a price tag approaching $500 million?
That question looms large for 20th Century Fox and its 3D science-fiction film “Avatar,” among the most expensive movies ever. But just in case box office receipts for “Avatar” fall short, Fox has worked hard to hedge its large bet on the movie.
Despite the estimated half-billion dollars spent on its production and marketing, “Avatar” may carry surprisingly little financial risk for Fox’s parent company, News Corp., even if it disappoints. That’s because of shifting industry economics, reliance on outside investors and help from a network of allied companies and in-house business units.