You’d assume a record $2.6 billion gross worldwide would be enough to satisfy most movie studios happy, but not 20th Century Fox. “Avatar’s” box office took a big dip last weekend after losing a substantial amount of screens to Walt Disney’s blockbuster “Alice in Wonderland.” Now, the studio is considering re-releasing the cinematic phenomenon with new footage this summer or fall.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron and Fox are considering a mostly 3-D re-release in the late summer when there “should” be less competition. How much would be added to the film remains to be seen. The story first got traction early Thursday when IMAX head Richard Gelfond said the filmmaker had 40 additional minutes at his disposal during an investor conference in New York City. IMAX has had record revenues over the past few months, but their stock is falling due to concerns about the long-term playability of large screen theaters. So, Gelfond clearly needed to say something to keep interest high.
More important, however, IMAX films are limited to 170 minutes. Cameron was aware of this when he made his original edit of 160 minutes giving him 10 to spare down the road. That small addition seems more likely than another 40.
One reason Fox and the “Avatar” producers may be so perturbed about losing the IMAX screens in particular is that they saw an increase in remaining 3-D screens which means there is still strong demand to experience the film. Speaking to USA Today, Cameron noted, “The word we’re getting back from exhibitors is we probably left a couple hundred million dollars on the table as a result.”
What new scenes might be included? Cameron has previously revealed they include Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) again proving his loyalty to the Na’vi and one that finds the alien Tsu’tey (Laz Alonso) getting inebriated at a tribe festival (why is unclear). However, no decisions appear to have been made at that time in what would clearly be a “director’s cut” of the Oscar nominated film.
“Avatar” is still expected to be available in two-dimensional DVD and Blu-ray before the re-release. There is no official street date, but it’s expected as early as April, but no later than May.
Additionally, both the studio and Cameron are continuing their discussions on follow up “Avatar” installments, but no deal is in place as of yet.