12/11/2009 11:13 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Avatar screens to critical raves (but why I chose not to see it first...)

The good news is that Avatar screened in America and London today, and the critics are confirming everybody's best hopes. The bad news... we were here back in December 2005. This smells like King Kong all over again. Early reviews are fantastic, as the film ends up being better than even the cynics thought. That breeds unrealistic expectations of record box-office and Oscar glory. But when the film opens just like a regular smash hit (due to running length or other reasonable variables), the press turns, calls the film a failure and we all spend the next four years forgetting how much we liked the film in the first place. I loved King Kong and still do, so I sincerely hope that history does not repeat itself.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll be seeing Avatar on Monday night, so expect a review either late Monday night or Tuesday morning. I figured it was worth waiting four days to see the film in IMAX at a more convenient theater. Sure, the geek in me wishes I were at last night's screening at the Mann's Chinese, but the grown up is happy to wait a few days. Besides, I went through hell to get into the first press screening of The Dark Knight last year, only to find that I had to wait a week and a half until I could talk about it with spoiler-phobic friends (on the plus side, I compiled quite a few Warner Bros. contacts as a result). The key now is to remain spoiler-free (and expectations-free) until Monday night. But I am officially very very excited for this one.

Scott Mendelson