Don't believe the hype – but some names do deliver

Hands up if you've ever given in to the temptation to see a movie based on hype.

I don't mean the standard promotion that accompanies a film – the star interviews, red-carpet premieres and so on. I'm referring to the rather iffy practice of advertising a film "from the producers" of an earlier, bigger hit.

I've always been wary of this dubious habit, seeing it as blatant bandwagon jumping.

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Ever taken a close look at the credits of a big movie? Ever noticed how there is generally one (or, very occasionally, two) credited directors while producers seem to infest the project like locusts?

Real producers hold the key to the secrets on the making of any movie. They know where all the bodies are buried. These are the people who, physically, do the day job by raising finance, steering the film through gestation through production to completion and overseeing the director's vision.

Good, genuine producers offer crucial back-up to the creative team. What they don't do is attach themselves to a film, claim a credit but actually do very little. It's a phenomenon that is increasingly taking root and, when investigated, amounts to very little.

Many big studio pictures boast a multitude of producers. Similarly, the abundance of films listed as co-productions, with several companies on board as financiers, inevitably list upwards of a dozen producers, often in associate or executive capacities.

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I sincerely doubt it means very much. Signing a cheque and handing over a wad of dosh doesn't make one a viable producer. But at least

it ensures a nice credit on the CV.

Let us pause and consider Avatar. Co-produced by James Cameron with Jon Landau (and half-a-dozen others) and borne of the vision of its director, Avatar is officially on track to become the highest-grossing movie of all time, smashing the record held by Titanic, which, as we all know, was also helmed by Cameron.

In its first five weeks of release, Avatar has raked in $504m in North America alone. It remains the number one title in all the major territories – including Russia, the UK, Iceland and Hong Kong – with the exception of Sweden and, after big wins at the Golden Globes, could well repeat Titanic's success at the Oscars.

Observing its runaway success since December, I have mulled over its various attractions to audiences.

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Clearly, that prospect of watching a ground-breaking motion picture appealed to many. Seeing Cameron's first movie in 12 years was a big draw. The concept was magnetic.

I bet only a minority bothered to check out the producers. Number people aren't sexy. But in Avatar's case, they got the job done. And how.