Fox mulling "Avatar" summer re-release

Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:09am EST
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By Alex Ben Block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Get ready for "Avatar"-plus.

James Cameron and Fox are in discussions about rereleasing "Avatar," primarily in 3D theaters, in late summer -- and, tantalizingly, with additional scenes that had been left on the cutting-room floor in the rush to ready the epic for its December 18 release.

The impetus for a rerelease is the feeling that, even though "Avatar" is the highest-grossing movie of all time, producers could have raked in even more money had they been able to hold on to the digital and Imax 3D screens that were lost when Disney opened "Alice in Wonderland" in 3D on March 5.

As for how much additional footage Cameron might add to "Avatar," the guessing began early Thursday when Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said during a Gabelli & Co. investor conference in New York that Cameron had about 40 minutes of additional material that didn't make the theatrical cut. He also predicted a rerelease, which he said probably would occur in the fall.

Cameron has said that he had 10-12 minutes of extra scenes that he cut and could quickly put through postproduction and have ready to add to a director's cut for a theatrical reissue or as an extra on the DVD release. One scene has to do with Jake Sully's avatar proving himself to the Na'vi people; the other involves a native festival during which tribe member Tsu'tey gets drunk.

The maximum length a movie can be released in analog Imax theaters is 170 minutes -- a number Cameron was aware of when he made his original edit -- so he could add about 10 minutes to the 160-minute current run time and still be in all Imax locations. That seems more likely than trying to add as much as 40 minutes.

The week before "Alice" arrived, Fox's movie still was minting millions in 4,215 North American theaters, including 179 Imax sites. This week, it dropped to a theater count of 667, including eight Imax 3D locations, resulting in a 41% week-over-week drop in grosses.

Through March 4, "Avatar" had grossed $127.1 million of its $712.5 million domestic haul in Imax theaters; this week's giant-screen take was $175,884.   Continued...