The exit fromAvatar and the upcoming arrival ofAvatar: The Waterway already represent a technical progress for cinema and a real challenge for theatres.
Until recently, we wondered about the sudden disappearance ofAvatar from the Disney+ catalog. In addition to all the issues that this raises on the question of platforms, such a phenomenon was explained quite simply by Disney’s project to bring out James Cameron’s film in cinemas very soon. From September 21, the feature film can be rediscovered on the big screen around the world.. An effective promotional tool to put Pandora and the Na’vi back in the spotlight before the imminent arrival ofAvatar: The Waterway. But not only. In this release ofAvatarfirst of the name, hides a baptism of fire for our cinemas in the face of a real technical challenge.
There are many, and will continue to be, those who do not miss an opportunity to deplore the popularity of the film, having perhaps missed it at the time and still shunning it more than a decade later. However, when we speak of revolution by evoking Avatarit is hardly a question of having appreciated it or not. It’s a fact, James Cameron’s feature film completely changed its medium when it was released in 2009 and it is about to do the same again in 2022..
A feat that the vast majority of films do not attempt. Thereby, Avatar 2 could be a huge shock for cinemas and they will prepare for it thanks to the re-release of the first part, in its new form.
Ready to storm the cinemas
As very well explained in a Boxoffice Pro article, new technologies used to Avatar 2 will force cinemas to have to prepare for a return to 3D (which, since nothing new had been done with it since, had somewhat fallen into disuse) and to distribute the film in multiple formats. It’s a very complex organization that must be done upstream to accommodate such an ambitious film, all with the aim of giving the viewer an experience in theaters that feels truly ordinary.
Disney has thus indicated to theater operators that “the film will be available in 2D and 3D in a standard version, meeting the basic technical standards of all theaters“ so as not to make the feature film inaccessible to cinemas that are less well equipped or lack resources. However, the requirement of such a work and the technical novelties of the film necessarily oblige the most sophisticated cinemas to be up to it:
“[Le film] will also be available in versions using the latest technical developments in terms of projection: 4K, HFR, and brightness greater than 3.5 Foot-Lambert for 3D“
“Say ‘Pochahontas’ one more time to see”
Avatar 2 should therefore be released in as many formats as possible in addition to offering new experiences to theaters. We are talking in particular about a very complex combination between state-of-the-art 3D and 4K HFR (very high resolution with a frame rate ranging from 48 to 120 frames per second). James Cameron seems determined to impose on the public a format hitherto little appreciated, despite the experiments of Peter Jackson (The Hobbit) and Ang Lee (A day in the life of Billy Lynn, Gemini Man).
In any case, this challenge raises several issues for many : the massive restocking of glasses (generally made in China) of which a shortage is to be expected from September, the choice of screens to project the film, the question of brightness (always delicate for 3D), etc. Moreover, while many rooms are equipped with digital projectors with a xenon lamp, others are beginning to move towards laser projection, which is more ecological and practical for 3D. Avatar could hasten this change, even though many operators cannot afford the cost of the equipment.
Operators waiting for their delivery of 3D glasses
Both maddening and exciting, the James Cameron revolution is on the way, and it’s no wonder it’s causing so much excitement for distributors and exhibitors. This is why the reissue of the first Avatar is also reassuring for everyone. The film could serve as a “crash test” for cinemas in order to understand the handling of these new technologies.and to allow different types of rooms to adapt according to their configuration, to offer the best possible experience.
Rare fact for a re-release, the film will be offered in a large network of cinemas (between 300 and 400 copies). For Frédéric Monnereau, director of distribution at Walt Disney France, “this will allow us to take stock of the French park in terms of sound, projection and HFR… and to prepare for the release of Avatar: The Waterway in December”.
An exercise which, even beyond Pandora, is life-saving for cinemas. Such a test is in itself a revolution, certainly technical, but also cultural., bringing back to the heart of the debate what should be one of the main obsessions of the seventh art. That is to say, to offer the viewer experiences that are always superior to what he is used to.