Avatar is coming back to IMAX 3D for a limited two week run with new footage

Posted in Movies,News by Scott Meisner on July 16th, 2010

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.

[Via MarketWatch]

Avatar surpasses Titanic to become worldwide box office king

Posted in Movies,News by Scott Meisner on January 27th, 2010

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.

[Via LA Times; image via LAmoviedriver]

Watch this 23 minute behind-the-scenes video of Avatar

Posted in Movies,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on January 22nd, 2010

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.

[Via SciFiWire]

Avatar success results in record numbers, “The Bootleg”

Posted in Hilarity,Movies,News,Video by Scott Meisner on December 31st, 2009

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.”

[Via TheHotBlog; BoxOfficeMojo; Slashfilm; AC; Collider; TechCrunch; The Inquirer]

Review: Avatar, a gorgeous, triumphant epic

Posted in Images,Movies,Review by Scott Meisner on December 18th, 2009

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.

[Thanks IGN, IMDB, Wiki for jogging my memory]

Behind-the-scenes with James Cameron’s Avatar

Posted in Movies,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on November 12th, 2009

“That’s what I think one of the great things about Avatar is; it’s not just a movie, it’s a universe.” 

OK, I’m officially pumped to see this movie.

[Via Wired]

Avatar is a $500 million experiment

Posted in Movies,News,Poll,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 9th, 2009

James Cameron’s Avatar is an experiment that will likely define the introduction of 3D film becoming more mainstream or the quick demise of it.  It hits theatres December 18.

[polldaddy poll=2233223]

[Via NYT]

Teaser trailer: James Cameron’s Avatar

Posted in Movies,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on August 21st, 2009

A teaser trailer for the highly anticipated CG/live action film Avatar has been released.  Although I am looking totally forward to this movie, I am disappointed in the teaser trailer.  It did not reveal any plot line whatsoever, and more importantly it did not pique my interest.  Director James Cameron (Titanic) is looking to shift the way films are made by introducing 3D to mainstream cinema in a way it has never been experienced before.  After the 2D teaser trailer was released, eager fans of the upcoming film got the chance to watch 15 minutes of 3D footage at their local theatres.  Initial reactions were not so good.  Moviegoers do not seem to be convinced that Avatar will revolutionize film-making like Cameron believes it has the chance of accomplishing.  However, I will keep my fingers crossed and hope that the final product turns out to be a success.  It definitely has stiff competition now with a CG/live action film like District 9 blowing me away in standard 2D.  Avatar comes out on December 18.