If you have been anticipating the Avatar sequels made official in October 2010, boy do I have some good news for you. On August 1, director James Cameron in collaboration with 20th Century Fox announced that not two but three sequels are in the works and four writers have already been selected to get the process going. Cameron handpicked screenwriters Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planets of the Apes), Shane Salerno (Savages, Salinger), and Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds) to collaborate with him on the screenplays for the three upcoming Avatar films. Much like Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Cameron plans to shoot all three sequels simultaneously beginning next year. Avatar 2 will release in December 2016, Avatar 3 in December 2017, and Avatar 4 a year after that. They will be produced by Cameron and Jon Landau through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Again, WETA Digital will contribute top-class special effects.
Cameron commented on the exciting news. “Building upon the world we created with AVATAR has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that AVATAR’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh — all writers I’ve long admired - to join me in completing the films screenplays.”
Plot details remain under wraps, but all signs point to at least one of the many sequels taking place underwater as Cameron likely captured some breathtaking shots when he travelled to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.
After so many home release iterations, James Cameron’s Avatar can finally be owned on Blu-ray in 3D and you can watch it the way it was meant to be seen. The long-standing exclusive deal with Panasonic is officially over. The new release is called AVATAR Blu-ray 3D Collector’s Edition and according to a press release in full after the break, it includes specifically the original theatrical release on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD. There is no word on whether or not bonus content is included; it doesn’t look like it. As they say, take what you can get.
James Cameron’s cash cow Avatar saw its first home release on April 22, 2010. Months later on November 16 Avatar was re-released into the wild as a “Three-Disc Extended Collector’s Edition.” Unlike the original release, this one included bonus features like 45 minutes worth of deleted scenes. While we wait for the Blu-ray 3D release to end its exclusivity with Panasonic, Cameron’s inviting fans of the movie to revisit Pandora by purchasing a new digital version of Avatar. This release is dubbed the “iTunes Extras Special Edition” and it comes with new, never-before-seen bonus material. Features include scene deconstruction, allowing viewers to interact with the performance capture and visual effects levels in 17 of the film’s scene; green screen x-ray gives viewers an interactive look through the visual effects levels to see the original green screen footage hiding behind certain scenes; it also comes with an original screenplay penned by Cameron, his scriptment, a gallery of 1,700 images, “and more.” Interested? Click over to iTunes, hand over $19.99 and immerse yourself in Pandora once more. At least until the 3D version comes out. Video promoting the new edition sits after the break. (Click here for more…)
Microsoft has announced a new Kinect-specific update for Xbox 360 owners. Here’s out the makers explain it: “With Avatar Kinect, you can control your avatar’s facial expression, head, and arm movements. As you talk, frown, smile, or scowl, your voice and facial expressions are enacted by your avatar, bringing your avatar to life!” In other words, the update will give you a more detailed level of control over your avatar. Right now the Kinect captures basic movements, such as arm flails, moving side-to-side, jumping, and ducking. With Avatar Kinect, the sensor will be able to recognize a new slate of physical actions. Microsoft is highlighting a virtual hangout where you can meet up with up to seven friends and converse with them using your avatars. You’ll be able to select from 15 virtual environments. Think of it as Wii’s Mii Plaza, except this space will allow for broader interaction (detailed avatar movements performed by you, voice support). Avatar Kinect will hit Xbox 360s later this spring. Look after the break to see it in action.
In related Kinect news… At CES 2011 Microsoft announced that they sold 8 million Kinect sensors worldwide during its first 60 days on the market; they sold 3 million more devices than they had predicted they would during that launch window. More news… In a spring update, Hulu Plus will be joining Netflix, expanding users’ options when it comes to TV and movie content. In addition, the two services will be Kinect-compatible.
I’ve got some bad news for you early adopter folks. If you purchased a 3DTV recently in hopes to revel in everything Pandora has to offer in the comfort of your own living room, this won’t be happening until 2012. Earlier this month Panasonic became the exclusive seller of Avatar 3D on Blu-ray; if you want a 3D copy of the flick you must purchase a Panny VIERA 3DTV. The exclusive deal was expected to end sometime next year, but the electronics manufacturer has confirmed that the deal will run through February 2012. Happy bidding!
There have been so many versions of Avatar released into the market it’s hard to count them all. But this latest edition is especially sweet. Why? Because it includes the 3D version of the highest grossing flick! The only way to get it (for now) is to purchase a Panasonic VIERA 3DTV. When you pick up a Panny set you can also get the “Panasonic 3D Full HD Ultimate Pack” which includes Avatar in 3D on Blu-ray and two pairs of rechargeable Panasonic 3D glasses. If you happen to have purchased a VIERA 3DTV between between March 10 and November 30 you are eligible to receive a copy of Avatar in 3D via a mail-in request program (hope you saved the receipt!). So if you’re in the market for a new HDTV, you should definitely consider a VIERA 3D set because you will be able to watch Avatar on it the way it was meant to be seen. Expect the Panasonic-Avatar in 3D exclusivity to end and a standalone release in 2011. Full PR after the break.
The highest grossing film of all time is getting the sequel and three-quel treatment within the next five years. Today Twentieth Century Fox announced that visionary director James Cameron will take on Avatar 2 & 3 as his next two films. Cameron will begin writing the script for the sequel “early next year” and production will begin “later in 2011.” He may shoot the films back-to-back, but he will not make this decision until both scripts are finalized. The sequel is targeted for a December 2014 release, and the third film will follow one year later in 2015.
Though Cameron was looking forward to shooting Cleopatra with Angelina Jolie in 2012, he is very excited to get the opportunity to plunge back into Pandora and consume himself with its inhabitants over the next five years. “It is a rare and remarkable opportunity when a filmmaker gets to build a fantasy world, and watch it grow, with the resources and partnership of a global media company. AVATAR was conceived as an epic work of fantasy – a world that audiences could visit, across all media platforms, and this moment marks the launch of the next phase of that world. With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at Twentieth Century Fox. Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience’s expectations for the richness of AVATAR’s visual world and the power of the storytelling. In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of AVATAR’s visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world. I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild.”
On November 16 fans of the highest grossing movie ever will be treated to special editions of Avatar on Blu-ray and DVD. You might be scratching your head thinking don’t I already own Avatar on Blu-ray (or DVD) already? Let’s remove that confusion. Avatar did release on both formats back in April; these versions, however, only included the original theatrical release. No bonus footage, no nothing. This second release, on the other hand, packs tons of bonus content and more. The three-disc Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and Theatrical Special Edition Re-Release DVD (yeah, those are their official titles) will include the original theatrical version, the special edition re-release, and the collector’s extended cut that includes sixteen more minutes and an exclusive alternate opening Earth scene. They will also include 45 minutes of new never-before-seen deleted scenes. Says director James Cameron: “I told our team — let’s do the ultimate box set of Avatar, with everything in it the fans could possibly want. There’s an extended length cut that’s sixteen minutes longer, plus documentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, artwork and over 45 minutes of deleted scenes. Everything worth putting into a special edition is in this set.” Peek after the break for the official PR and to browse the bonus content in more detail. And as for the 3D Blu-ray version? That’s expected to release next year.
Earlier this week at a company event in Japan, Nintendo revealed the release date and price of the Nintendo 3DS. It will sell for ¥25,000 (about $299 USD) when it hits the Japanese market on February 26, 2011. Not from Japan, huh? Ninty only hinted at a US and Europe release date: March 2011; they did not disclose US pricing details, but several industry analysts are pegging a $249-$299 price point. When it ships in Japan, the 3DS will be available in two color variants, aqua blue and cosmo black. The portable game console will come bundled with a charging dock and a 2GB SD card.
At the company event Nintendo detailed a number of software enhancements. The Mii Studio app magically transforms a still image of yourself (taken with one of the 3DS’ cameras) into a customizable Mii avatar. The Mii Plaza app takes advantage of the 3DS’ ability to recognize other 3DS handhelds in close proximity. Whether you’re actively playing a game or walking the streets with your 3DS in standby mode tucked away in a bag, the system will recognize and pull information from nearby 3DS users. At any time you can hop into Mii Plaza to discover a growing community of Miis from all the 3DS owners you pass by throughout the day. Similarly, a new wireless “tag mode” featured in the upcoming Super Streetfighter IV game will quietly seek out other 3DS owners to battle against. A minigame will pit one of your in-game collectable action figures against a nearby opponent when your 3DS is in standyby mode; and standard wireless 3DS to 3DS battle royales with in-game characters is supported, too. Other 3DS apps include a web browser, an ebook reader, notes, and support for augmented reality gaming.
Remaining loose ends.. The final 3DS hardware is very similar to what we saw at E3; the only noticable exterior change is that the analog nub no longer matches the handheld’s color scheme–it remains gray in each color variant. The 3DS software lineup was shared in a brief video preview. Upcoming titles include Animal Crossing 3DS, Mario Kart 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, Paper Mario 3DS, Dead or Alive Dimensions, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Resident Evil: Revelations, and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries. It’s also been reported that Game Boy & Game Boy Color games are coming to the 3DS’ virtual console store. Look after the break to see the software lineup video in addition to demonstrations of Mii Studio, wireless “tag mode”, and a 3DS introductory video–all in Japanese, of course!
On a separate topic, Nintendo also used the company event to formally announce the Wii Remote Plus. It had been rumored for some time, but now it’s official: the Wii MotionPlus accessory (that grants greater 1:1 motion capability) will soon come permanently built into a Wiimote. Nintendo showed off the newly redesigned controller in four colors, white, black, light blue, and pink. Launch date and price have not been disclosed for any country. Check ’em out in the gallery below.
Wolfbreeder, an LA ad agency, put together this impressive viral featuring a man wielding a PlayStation Move controller versus an oversized Mii (a personalized avatar from Nintendo’s Wii). Guess who wins this battle of epic proportions.
Here’s what you need to know. James Cameron’s epic Avatar is coming to back to theatres for a limited two week run from August 27 to September 10. It will only be shown in IMAX 3D theatres and will include “eight minutes of additional, never before seen footage.” So, if you haven’t seen the highest grossing movie of all time yet this is your chance to catch it the way it was meant to be seen–in IMAX 3D. And if you have seen the movie and enjoyed it the first time around, you might be interested in kicking back a second time to catch the new bits of footage. The movie looks fantastic in IMAX 3D because it was shot for that particular medium. If you purchased the movie on DVD or Blu-ray and haven’t see it yet, hold off on that until you’ve seen it in 3D. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Can’t say you’re surprised, can you? Avatar quickly became the best selling Blu-ray of all time after just four days on store shelves. 2.7 million Blu-ray copies were sold in North America alone, smashing the previous record of 2.5 million units sold by The Dark Knight. For a Blu-ray set that includes no extra features, I’d say this is quite the feat. Click here for more information about the future releases (w/ extra features, 3D support, etc.).
I’m going on a hunch here and assuming you’ve seen Avatar in theatres. I mean, $737 million in domestic ticket sales doesn’t just spring out of no where. And I bet you can’t wait to get your mits on your own copy. Avatar is set to release on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 22 to coincide with Earth Day (how cute). The April DVD/Blu-Ray release will not include any bonus features. That means no deleted scenes, no behind-the-scenes featurettes, no nothing. Why, you ask? “Sources at Fox said the April disc will come without extra features so that all available storage space can be used for the best picture and sound possible.” So where’s all the extra features then? Apparently they will be packed into a second release (dubbed “The Ultimate Edition”) of the DVD/Blu-Ray packages in November. And what about the 3D version of the movie; when can we watch it at home the way it’s meant to be seen? That won’t come until sometime in 2011. Consumers likely won’t have 3D TVs to play it on until then anyway. So your safest bet is to wait until November to snag all the extras and play the rest by hear; who knows how fast 3D tech in the home will catch on.
Update: Sorry 3D fans, this update does not push forward the Avatar in 3D release. But it does fix the no bonus features ’til November fiasco. A fresh press release reveals The Avatar Program: “Connecting the two releases in April and November is “The Avatar Program,” an interactive consumer experience that offers an online hub for exclusive content, discounts and more.” The Avatar DVD/Blu-Ray release on April 22 will come with a unique code that can be used to access bonus features online and adopt a “virtual hometree.” Full PR after the break.
James Cameron’s epic tells the story of a baby given an adult/baby hybrid body, which he must pilot to learn the ways of the grown-up world.
Directed by pal Payman Benz. (I worked with him on the upcoming series Movie Gumbo. Check out his repitoire of videos at Awkward Pictures.)
This bizzare video features Hometree, Wisconsin natives dressed up as the blue alien humanoids from Avatar. What started out as a viral video claiming to be the real deal has finally been labeled a parody by a majority of viewers. Fun to watch nonetheless. Fake or real, this “community of Avatars” totally reminds me of Augie’s medieval live action role playing game “LAIRE” from Role Models.
[Via The Huffington Post]
In Korea, 3D just doesn’t cut it. By adding an extra dimension to the epic Avatar 4D movieplexes “use more than 30 effects during the 3D film’s 162 minute run, including moving seats, smells of explosives, sprinkling water, laser lights and wind.” If you’ve experienced Shrek 4D at Disney then you probably have an idea of what Avatar in 4D would be like. In fact, Tom Oh of 20th Century Fox Korea refers to Avatar in 4D as a “ride” and calls the Korean 4D plex “the first in the world that fully offers five-sense experiences with a movie title.” Avatar in IMAX 3D was definitely enough of a trip for me. I feel like the addition of moving seats and shots of water to the face would just distract me (not further immerse me) from Pandora and its spectacular inhabitants. What say you?
Few people in their lives strike gold twice. James Cameron is one of those people. After setting the box office record for highest grossing movie in 1997 with Titanic, Cameron did it again with Avatar this year. Although final figures will not be reported until Tuesday, rough estimates have been compiled. Having made $1,858,866,889, Avatar has officially trumped Titanic ($1,843,201,268) to become the highest grossing movie worldwide. Avatar still trails Titanic domestically with $554.9 million, behind Titanic‘s $600.7 million. And don’t forget about price inflation from ’97 to present day; Avatar still needs to sell about 50 million more tickets for it to match the domestic sales of Titanic. Internationally, though, it has bested Titanic $1.30 billion to $1.24 billion.
This can mean only one thing: 3D is here to stay.
Go behind-the-scenes and learn all about the magic of Pandora in this video titled “Creating the World of Pandora.” It touches upon the secrets behind the 3D motion capture technique and other design elements of the film. It also includes interviews with director James Cameron, producer Jon Landau, Cameron’s creative crew, and actors Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver. If you enjoyed Avatar and if you are at all curious about James Cameron’s vision this is a must-watch video. It should hold you until the Blu-Ray release drenches us in tons of extras.
Avatar is a good movie and a breakthrough in 3D cinema. We know that. But how did it fare in the box office? By the numbers it made (so far)…
- $77 million on opening weekend
- $75 million during Christmas weekend
- $250.4 million in its first twelve days of release (that’s #6 fastest all-time and #1 non-sequel all-time)
- $726,612,776 (worldwide) in its first twelve days of release
- $39 million from 249 IMAX screens in just 10 days
- #3 spot in the Box Office Mojo chart of the biggest Tuesday box-office earnings ever
- Total gross: Domestic: $268,886,074 (36.1%) + Foreign: $476,192,825 (63.9%) = Worldwide: $745,078,899 (as of today, 12/31)
- The Hot Blog speculates that “there is a very real chance that the film will break $1 billion worldwide before it’s fourth weekend starts. If not, it seems pretty sure to happen in that fourth weekend.”
Sounds like Cameron and crew will make bank off this massively successful movie. And do they deserve it. Avatar was in many aspects an experimental film for James Cameron and he took a big risk in making it. (It cost around $500 million to make.) It all paid off, so to speak; critics praised it, movie-goers flocked to it, and the 3D and IMAX integration successfully added to the immersive experience. Job well done all around.
Update: Avatar hits $1 billion in seventeen days, reaching that milestone faster than any other movie in history. Right now it remains the third largest grossing movie, behind Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Cameron’s other hit Titanic.
Then there’s this: “Free Love Forum takes you behind the scenes of the revolutionary new bootleg of the revolutionary new movie.” Please sit back and enjoy this comedy mockumentary of “Avatar: The Bootleg.”
James Cameron did it. He really did it. He managed to turn a childhood dream into a twenty-first century masterpiece. He wrote the story ten years ago but he knew that the technology was not yet up to par to create his visionary planet Pandora. So he patiently waited until everything lined up. For the past four years, Cameron and his talented crew figured out how to seamlessly integrate the CG world with the real world, tying in an engrossing and timely story to boot. Gorgeous, triumphant, groundbreaking; Avatar is all that and more.
What is Avatar about? The movie focuses on Jake Sully, a paralyzed former U.S. marine who was injured during combat on Earth. When Jake’s twin brother dies he is called upon by a corporation to take his place in the Avatar program. Having been recruited into the program, Jake travels to Pandora, a spectacularly large planet that is inhabited by the indigenous Na’vi (the tall blue humanoids) as well as other animals and creatures. We quickly learn that the corporation has occupied Pandora because the planet contains vast amounts of a mineral called Unobtainium that sells for a lot of money on Earth and promises to solve the Earth’s energy crisis. The problem lies in the fact that the Na’vi people live right on top of the richest deposits of the mineral. The Avatar program includes a group of scientists and military men. Since humans cannot breathe the air on Pandora, the scientists discovered how to place human consciousness into a remotely controlled genetically engineered Avatar body. Because they share the same DNA, Jake is a perfect fit for his brother’s Avatar. While the scientists are trying to find a diplomatic way to make the Na’vi move from their land, the militarists are trigger-happy and quickly find an excuse to destroy the Na’vi’s most important landmarks to excavate the mineral. All the while, Jake is stuck in the middle. He makes a deal with Colonel Quaritch, the military head of security; Quaritch promises to have the corporation pay for a new pair of legs for Jake when he returns home if Jake infiltrates the Na’vi in his Avatar body to gain their trust. Though he agrees to this deal at first, Jake quickly realizes that he must help protect the Na’vi from “the sky people.” The movie follows Jake becoming accepted into the Na’vi tribe, gaining their trust, falling in love with a powerful Na’vi warrior, and fighting against his own people.
I know what you are thinking because I was thinking the same thing during the movie: Avatar sounds like Pocahontas meets The Matrix. Jake, like John Smith, voyages to a distant new world where his mission is to drive away the native people so his people can dig for precious minerals. During his time with the natives, though, Jake learns the land and even falls in love with the chief’s daughter. Having made a genuine connection with the new world, he has no choice but to help the native people protect it from the evil corporation. All the while, Jake is harnessed into a technologically advanced tube that transmits his consciousness into another reality that starts to “feel more real” than life in his human body. Pocahontas meets The Matrix indeed.
Avatar makes for a great Western set in space. Although it comes off subtle, the movie can be read as a timely piece that reverberates today’s heated political climate and the U.S.’s imperialist ways (our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq). It also has hints of 9/11 references with over-the-top destruction scenes and the use of terms “terrorists” and “shock and awe.” Cameron is smart to keep these political inferences in check, but it would be naive not to notice them.
If you are going to see this movie (and you should) be prepared to enter a brand new world and be part of a cinematic landmark. The world of Pandora is stunningly beautiful; Cameron completed a difficult task when he decided to go about creating his dream planet filled with native people, countless wildlife, and a living and breathing environment. The mingling of CG Avatars, the Na’vi people, and environments with humans and real surroundings is done in a way I have never seen before. CG motion-capture animation and realism have become one and the same, and this results in a true suspension of disbelief; you simply cannot tell what is real and what is computer-generated anymore. Cameron has reached the pinnacle of 3D cinema with Avatar and has set the bar very high for future 3D-enhanced movies.
Avatar is meant to be watched in 3D. Cameron and crew created special high definition 3D cameras for the making of this movie, and you can clearly see all the hard work and attention to detail that was put into it. Reminiscent of Pixar’s UP, Avatar utilizes 3D technologies to fully immerse the viewer into the world that the on-screen characters live in. In these movies nothing pops out at you and shouts, “Look, I’m in 3D!” In this way, 3D is no longer a gimmick with glasses; it provides a new medium for visionaries to help their audiences forget they are in a movie theatre and start believing they are part of the movie itself.
Years from now Avatar will be remembered for the movie that pushed visual effects to its limit, and even further than that. James Cameron promised a groundbreaking 3D experience, and Avatar delivers on all levels. The story, the characters, and the score are all top notch but it’s Pandora, its inhabitants and fantastical nature (plants and creatures included) that will be deeply ingrained in the viewer’s mind. To be frank, the theatrical and televised trailers do not do this movie much justice. To use the old adage, you simply must see it to believe it.