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Fox and Imax break new ground with free 'Avatar' preview next week


Hollywood's sneak-preview tradition is about to get a James Cameron overhaul.

On Monday, 20th Century Fox will launch an unusual offer on the website for its Cameron-directed film "Avatar": free tickets for an early look at 16 minutes of footage from the futuristic thriller that will be shown in more than 100 Imax 3-D theaters around the world.

With two screenings on Friday, Aug. 21 (at 6 and 6:30 p.m.), the "Avatar" preview will include an introduction from Cameron and some new footage not shown during July's Comic-Con International convention in San Diego. "Avatar," which will be released in December, is Cameron's first feature since 1997's Oscar-winning hit "Titanic," which generated global ticket sales of more than $1.8 billion.

The unprecedented promotion -- which includes more than 30 Imax 3-D screens overseas -- signals just how much Fox has riding on its massive "Avatar" investment (more than $240 million in production costs) and how Imax is trying to position its theaters as the destination for the highly anticipated movie. Imax screens generated about $65 million in ticket sales for "The Dark Knight" last year when the Batman sequel was shown in 94 Imax screens; "Avatar" will be playing at more than 225 Imax theaters when it opens Dec. 18. 

Advance screenings of movie footage for the press and at events such as Comic-Con are fairly common for big-budget Hollywood releases. But it's unprecedented for a studio to show an extended excerpt of a film in such a broad public setting months before it hits theaters.

Fox is not paying Imax to use its theaters for the preview, though the studio is bearing the cost of producing and distributing the digital prints. Imax will provide 3-D glasses.

In what’s sure to be a mad grab among sci-fi fans, tickets will be given away a first-come, first-served basis on the “Avatar” website (www.avatarmovie.com) at noon PST Monday.

“I think that there’s not enough of an understanding of what show business means," Greg Foster, president of Imax Filmed Entertainment said of the sneak preview. "You can’t have business without showmanship. What Fox and ['Avatar' producer] Lightstorm Entertainment and Imax are doing is the personification of the correlation between those two words -- 'show' and 'business.' "

Not coincidentally, Fox will also release the first "Avatar" trailer in theaters around the world next Friday.

-- John Horn and Ben Fritz

Photo: Director James Cameron, left, and lead actor Sam Worthington on the set of "Avatar." Credit: Mark Fellman

Comments () | Archives (7)

I would like to know how to present a script to James Cameron for reviewing and possible movie production???

As a newly-graduated marketing major, what Fox and Imax is doing is huge. It sounds like a huge risk and they're banking on high box office numbers. News of this should be spread out more in the public if they want to consider the free preview a success. I hope this marketing overhaul works!

So...no showings in 1570 theaters? Hopefully, my local IMAX will pass up this film and go with A Christmas Carol. If it isn't on 1570 film, I won't see it James. Take your digital cameras (with poor horizontal offset between eyes I might add) and film (excuse me, "record") some more "oh look at me" films.

Avatar... never heard of it. Never heard of "Avatar Day " either.
Oh and nobody I know has heard of Avatar or Avatar Day...keep up the good work promoting your 300 million dollar movie FOX.

James Cameron writes his own scipts.

Avatar will be shown in regular theaters as well as Real3D theaters and Imax 3D theaters. Everyone will see it everywhere. More than once.

i think j.cameron is an exellent directer,but lest not exagurate but,will avatar really gross at the box office.

I saw the online trailer a few days ago and was underwhelmed. I went and saw IMAX 3D preview last night and now I’m cursing that there are so many days until December. All I have to say is, don’t let the online teaser trailer convince you of Avatar’s worth. You’re going to love it!


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