‘Avatar 2’ Footage Astonishes Audience at CinemaCon

CinemaCon delegates, donning their 3D glasses, gave an enthusiastic welcome to the return to Pandora with a first look at the teaser trailer for James Cameron’s sequel title Avatar the Way of Water, Wednesday during Disney’s slate presentation.

Producer Jon Landau was on hand, announcing plans to rerelease the original Avatar on Sept. 23, with restored picture and sound.

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He reported that the four sequels will be about Jake and Nyteri’s family — each a standalone film “together ever greater connected epic saga. We need to make sure they have an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and that needs to be exclusively in theaters.” The teaser trailer only will be initially released next week in theaters, ahead of Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madless.

Released in 2009, Cameron’s Avatar quickly became the top grossing film of all time with more than $2.8 billion, while credited for helping to usher in the digital 3D era and introducing new production tools and techniques for 3D and in areas such as performance capture and virtual production. Its sequel is one of the more anticipated films of the past decade.

Star Sam Worthington returns as Jake Sully, along with ensemble Zoe Saldaña as Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine and Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch. The film features series (star-powered) newcomers, including Vin Diesel and Cameron’s Titanic star, Kate Winslet.

Behind-the-scenes talent includes director of photography Russell Carpenter, Cameron’s Oscar-winning Titanic DP. Avatar‘s visual effects are back at Weta FX in New Zealand, again led by senior VFX supervisor and four-time Oscar winner Joe Leteri.

Cameron initially announced two sequels in 2010 and dated them for 2014 and 2015. Those plans evolved over the past decade, with the series ballooning to a total of four sequels, the first of which will finally arrive in theaters on Dec. 16 of this year.

As it has in recent years, CinemaCon sponsor Dolby has outfitted the Colosseum — CinemaCon’s main venue at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas — with Dolby Atmos immersive sound and Dolby Vision, meaning they are installing the company’s premium 4K, high dynamic range, high frame rate and 3D capable laser-based projection system. This enabled the Avatar 2 filmmakers to put on quite a show.

Cameron, Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment, along with 20th Century and Disney, is expected to offer Avatar 2 in a wide variety of formats to support the range of theater installations, including the use of 3D, 4K and a high frame rate of 48 frames per second.

Tuesday at CinemaCon John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, noted that Avatar 2 will have more versions than any movie “in the history of movies” when it arrives in theaters: “We are talking about high resolution, high frame rates, 3D, IMAX, PLF, different sound systems and in 160 different languages.”

“He is working very closely with our members around the world to show his movie in the best possible way,” Fithian said. “Jim is uniquely driven. He’s brilliant. There may be only a couple of hundred screens in [some of the formats] but he wants [Avatar 2] on those screens. It’s time to make sure your light levels are correct and everything about the picture is correct. We’re excited about it.”

Before the release of 2009’s Avatar, Cameron created more than 100 versions of deliverables in various light levels, 2D and 3D, resolutions and sound systems. It was the most ambitious digital release at that time.

Cameron previously used CinemaCon as a platform to discuss the potential of high frame rates. The filmmaker gave a presentation at CinemaCon 2011 with a comparison of 3D content — a medieval dinner and action scene — projected at 24 fps, 48 ​​fps and 60 fps. As the clips played, Cameron shared to his observations, including some distracting strobing that occurs in 24 fps (which has been attributed to why some viewers get headaches when viewing 3D) and pointed to a smoother higher frame rate image.

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