As we mentioned earlier in the week, the Avatar special edition DVD and Blu-ray will feature sixteen minutes of new footage when it drops in November. As James Cameron promotes the theatrical re-release of his fantasy epic, the director shed some light on what we might see in this new footage. Cameron and his team refer to the sequence as “the Earth opening”, four-and-a-half minutes that depict a “polluted, dystopian Earth.” The Earth opening is fully realized, but Cameron estimates that forty-five minutes worth of unfinished deleted scenes will also be included on the box set.
Check out Cameron’s comments, in which he explains why he cut the scene and how the opening fits into the new edit, after the jump.
“Well, if you buy the box set in November, you can sit down, and in a continuous screening of the film, watch it with the Earth opening... It works very well. It just takes a long time to get the movie started. You have to be sort of predisposed to like the movie like a fan, you know what I mean? And then you can sit and you can have a great ride — a different telling of Avatar. Not inconsistent — it’s just the stuff that happened off-camera.
We call it ‘the Earth opening.’ It’s about four-and-a-half minutes of stuff. And it was in for the longest time. It was very late in the day that we took it out. I walked in one day and said to my two editors, ‘Guys, I want each of you to cut a new version of the start of the film, reel one, that doesn’t have any Earth in it at all.’ And they looked at me like I was out of my mind. And I said, ‘No — it’s gonna work.’ They had to figure out the details. I said, ‘Just grab a couple of things to use as flashbacks, and start it in space when Jake opens his eyes.’ “
This is my favorite kind of Cameron story. One where he walks in a room, adamant about something, and everyone thinks it’s a crazy idea. And then the movie makes $2.7 billion.
Cameron followed up with a bit more detail on the presentation of the box set,
“In November, you can buy a box set with all the bells and whistles. It’s got like forty-five minutes of unfinished deleted scenes that exist in a supplement where you can just play the scenes individually.
But it’s all a big negotiation with the studios; how much money do they want to spend on these sort of revisionist versions of the movie? Because on the whole Earth opening, the visual effects weren’t done, and we had to go back and spend a million bucks or whatever to get those shots done. So there’s a price-tag dangling from anything that gets re-inserted. It’s not like ‘Apocalypse Now,’ where they blow up a Vietnamese village and the footage is done — there are no visual effects after the fact. We’ve got to go back, and it’s our time and our energy and the studio’s money to re-create this stuff.
But (in November) you’ll be able to watch a sixteen-minute-longer version of the film that’s a nice, flowing, cohesive version of the movie. If you just want to wallow in Avatar for three hours, I can get that for you.”