Gone with the wind
12 angry Men
Need I go on? Plenty of films have had much more cultural impact without any sequels.
Literally all of these are adaptations of written works, with many versions across TV, theaters etc. often before becoming movies.
And all of them are ancient (different time, different culture, very different industry) and not one of them is an action blockbuster; not particularly relevant comparisons since their impacts would be completely different than a film like Avatar. Films are more disposable entertainment these days; you look back at not just Psycho, but all of Hitchcock's films, and they're all classics, many took a while to gain cultural traction (Vertigo not until its remaster almost 3 decades later); but that's not particularly true about the last 15 years or so - oversaturation? The Internet? Who knows the reason. But usually what makes a film culturally relevant among new franchises is when the sequels or TV series comes out.
The comparison we are really making is the Marvel Universe, which has (probably) thousands of TV episodes spanning decades, and even more comic books. There are films dating back decades.
Much of the backlash toward Avatar was because of the tremendous success it had, and the transition to 3D film which was unpopular among the hipster/1337/hardcore types. Biases developed because those sorts felt the film did not deserve all the success it received. A very similar thing happened to Titanic and it took nearly 20 years for people to start coming around on that one.
The real test for Avatar will be when the sequels will release. It will generate renewed interest in the original film. And yes, it will no longer be comparable to single run films: depending on where additional materials go, it may become more comparable to Terminator, Star Wars, and other similar blockbuster franchises. I know I am not alone on this forum in people looking forward to that time... although, I admit, I am not a fan of superhero films, but I am a fan of science fiction and sci-fi blockbusters - I think I am one of the only ones here who also really liked Interstellar and Blade Runner 2049 - Sci Fi Blockbuster isn't a popular genre unless it is part of an older franchise (Star Wars, Star Trek), or an adaptation (and not always even then).
Maybe I'll be wrong about Avatar, we'll see. I hope the sequels are great, and I think they will be; I haven't seen a James Cameron film I have disliked - and his films that are sequels tend to be better than the originals -- I know Alien and The Terminator have fans that prefer those ones, but I think far more prefer Aliens and T2; they also clearly had larger cultural impacts than the originals (which, IMO, were already pretty great films, no one else has been able to direct a great sequel in either franchise aside from James Cameron).
Last edited by Jumpin - on 14 June 2019