Even though there is a loooooooooong-awaited sequel coming by the end of this year, as well as an additional three more to follow, there will probably never be another movie quite like James Cameron‘s Avatar (2009).
The science fiction epic remains to this day as the highest-grossing film of all time, kick-starting a cultural phenomenon and completely revolutionizing the way films look at CGI and special effects. Though a common narrative on the internet has led to many calling the film overrated (so much to the point where one could argue that the movie isn’t “overrated” anymore), you can’t deny that Avatar has become one of the most culturally relevant and universally recognizable feature films of the twenty-first century.
After numerous delays, several sequel announcements, and a whopping thirteen years in development, the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) will finally continue with Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). Since we last saw the two heroes, the couple are still exploring the dangerous planet of Pandora and even have children of their own, but when an old enemy returns to seek revenge, they must prepare their family for the coming war.
Since it has been over a decade since we last visited Pandora, some may understandably want a refresher for the story so far. Luckily, James Cameron probably knew this, and Avatar is returning to theaters in 3D, the way Cameron has always insisted it be seen. However, since Cameron has always been one to try and one up himself, he took things a step further with what he calls a “remastered” version of Avatar, so this is more than just your average re-release.
Posting the trailer for a movie that’s been out since 2009 does admittedly feel a little redundant, but in case you need a brief reminder of just how good Avatar‘s visuals are, the above trailer should jog your memory. You’ll find everything you’ve come to expect from Avatar in the trailer, including the Na’vi, the creatures that inhabit Pandora, and the invasive humans who are trying to claim it as their own.
When Does the Avatar Re-Release Come Out?
If you’ve been itching to see the jungles of Pandora again, you’re in luck, as the re-release for the global phenomenon is right around the corner. Avatar officially returns to theaters this weekend starting Friday, September 23rd, 2022. Although there is a catch, as you’ll need to act quickly to see the film since it’s only available in theaters for a limited time and will be gone from most as early as Thursday, September 29th.
What Formats is the Avatar Re-Release Playing In?
Without a doubt, the definitive way to experience Avatar is to see it in IMAX 3D. The biggest screen possible, the best quality sound of any screen, and a three-dimensional experience unlike anything in the motion picture industry. This is the way that James Cameron has always intended Avatar to be seen.
However, if you don’t have an IMAX theater in your immediate area, Avatar will also be available in standard and digital 3D.
Is Avatar Available to Watch on Streaming?
Since Avatar‘s parent company 20th Century Studios was purchased by the Walt Disney Company, Avatar had made its streaming home on the House of Mouse’s streamer, Disney+. However, starting in late August of this year, the hit film mysteriously disappeared from the service entirely. In what is admittedly a bit of a cheeky move by the company to get more people in the seats for the theatrical re-release, Disney has taken the film off their service until the film is out of theaters. However, while no specific return date has been given, the 2009 film will almost surely be back on Disney+ in time for the release of Avatar: The Way of Water later this year.
Does the Avatar Re-Release Have Any Differences From the Original Theatrical Release?
While promoting the film at this year’s D23 Expo, Cameron made clear that this is not a simple cash-grab re-release and instead a remastered version of the original movie. This means that Cameron and the Avatar team, thanks to the wonders of new technology, have added a number of significant improvements to make the already amazing-looking movie look just that much better. These changes include an improved 4K resolution, dazzling high-dynamic range, ear-drum pleasing 9.1 sound, and select sequences that have been upscaled to 48 frames-per-second as opposed to the industry standard 24 frames-per-second. To put it in simpler terms, the film will likely look and sound infinitely better than it did when it came out in 2009.
As far as the actual version of the film that will be the re-release version, it’s expected to be the theatrical cut of the movie and not the special or extended versions that were released on Blu-ray.
What Is the Plot of Avatar?
While we have mainly been talking about the film in terms of its re-release, we also acknowledge that the film’s return to theaters could be experiencing Avatar for the very first time and will have the rare opportunity to see the film in the way it was meant to be seen. If you are one of those lucky few who plan on seeing Avatar in theaters and haven’t seen the movie before, here’s a quick, spoiler-free summary of the legendary picture.
Set in the year 2154, Avatar is the story of Jake Sully, a disabled veteran who recently lost his twin brother, Tom. Jake is contacted by his twin’s employers, the Resource Development Administration, or RDA for short, and they give Jake a wholly unique opportunity. The RDA is currently excavating on the planet Pandora; a hostile jungle environment that is home to an intelligent race of aliens known as the Na’vi. In an attempt to form a peaceful bond with the Na’vi, the RDA create the Avatar program, an initiative that creates clones mixed with human and Na’vi DNA where a human can transfer their consciousness into the being. Tom was one of these scientists/Avatar pilots, and since Jake’s physiology is nearly identical to that of his twin brother, he’s the only viable candidate to take his place.
When Jake arrives on Pandora, he meets the Avatar science team led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), who takes an instant dislike to Jake since he’s not the scientific mind that his brother was. Jake also meets Quaritch (Stephen Lang); the head of the RDA’s extensive security force, who offers Jake the opportunity to cover the expensive procedure that would allow him to walk permanently as long as he acts as a spy for him. Jake takes an instant liking to being an Avatar and eventually is introduced to the Na’vi through Neytiri, the daughter of the local tribe’s chief. With the help of Neytiri, Jake learns the way of the Na’vi and begins the process of being accepted into the tribe.
Jake ultimately finds himself at a difficult crossroads. Does he assist the RDA in espionage, so they can harvest the planet, or will he side against humankind and help the Na’vi protect their home?