Moviegoers to get sneak peek of 3D "Avatar" footage

Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:05am EDT
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By Steven Zeitchik and Borys Kit

SAN DIEGO (Hollywood Reporter) - To stoke buzz for the sci-fi flick "Avatar," 20th Century Fox will take over as many Imax and 3D screens around the world as it can on August 21 to show 15 minutes of promotional footage, filmmaker James Cameron announced Thursday at the Comic-Con pop culture convention.

The screenings, in a highly unusual move, will be offered free of charge to pave the way for the film, which opens in the U.S. on December 18.

Cameron and Fox took the wraps off their pricey, visually splashy 3D movie at the San Diego Convention Center's Hall H on Thursday, to a deeply enthusiastic, if not over-the-top hysterical, crowd Thursday afternoon.

Cameron warmed up the sci-fi-minded crowd by asking, "Who wants to go to another planet?" before rolling nearly 25 minutes of scenes from his otherworldly tale, which is set on the fictional planet of Pandorum.

A few expositional scenes showing the main character, played by Sam Worthington, becoming an avatar (a blue-skinned human-alien hybrid) segued into a series of jungle battle scenes -- many of them of striking color and scope -- in which Worthington and co-star Zoe Saldana fight with prehistoric-looking creatures.

The footage showed a vividly original world complete with its own language and ecology.

"Everybody always asks, where have you been? Well, that's where I've been: Pandorum," said Cameron, who hasn't directed a narrative feature since 1997's "Titanic."

The footage overlapped with but was not identical to the slightly shorter material that Fox showed at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam last month, the studio said.   Continued...