James Cameron’s sequel to the beloved Avatar (2009) isn’t going as planned.
After 13 years spent making sure the sequel was just what he wanted, Cameron finally had the movie he wanted. He ensured the technology was ready for his epic story and even had Disney give explicit instructions on running the movie in theaters. Unlike other movies, Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) breaks away from using standard rules such as having some with a higher frame rate. Most movies are at 24 frames per second (FPS), and Avatar 2 includes scenes that are 48 FPS. This change is wild as the action scenes feel way better, and it’s not something you can see anywhere else.
The only problem is that IMAX had to set up every theater with an IMAX screen without prior experience with the new technology. Sure, they had some practice, but it seems like they didn’t check every theater before the opening night. Remember, when a movie is first released is when the most amount of people go watch the movie, which is why IMAX might’ve set up several theaters for disaster.
Related: Review: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’
Avatar 2 was no exception, with packed theaters despite the movie being 3 hours and 10 minutes. Inside the Magic can report that several theaters had problems with the movie’s new technology. Some experienced having to wait longer for the movie to play with fans being given a new version of 3D glasses for the film and probably waited for another five to ten minutes AFTER trailers to see the movie, which starts to add to the overall time.
Then, Avatar 2 debuts on the IMAX screen with no problems, but at first glance, it wasn’t crazy with the visuals. In fact, the first major action sequence had blurry elements and was distracting as too much was happening onscreen for the viewer to digest. After the action scene, the theater had to PAUSE the movie with the theater manager coming in.
He explained that they were on the phone with IMAX to “fix” the movie because something wasn’t programmed right and gave the audience three options. 1. wait and see the movie the right way after REWINDING the movie for 20 minutes. 2. Leave and get a refund. 3. Go to another theater that has already fixed the issue and see it right where you left off, give or take.
The audience was upset, and some vocalized their opinions telling the manager, “get the f*cking movie up and running!” with one parent asking the audience not to swear right in front of their children. Many stayed put and took this moment to use the restroom, but it was about 10 minutes before the movie was finally rolling again.
Starting 20 minutes earlier allowed fans to see the first major action sequence again, and it was no joke. No words can describe the experience other than James Cameron wasn’t joking. Seeing it the way it was intended was not something you could do anywhere else because the 48 FPS made the action sequences come alive with intense action that felt real and sudden.
Despite waiting a long time, the movie was worth waiting for. In the end, Avatar 2 took about 4 hours for the viewers to see, and the manager admitted that IMAX had to deal with this error across several other theaters. Due to the movie being shown at a Regal theater, it’s likely the manager only knew about the issue for other Regal theaters, which means thousands of viewers were affected.
This error may have hurt fans wanting to come back a second time because, as mentioned earlier, most of the initial viewership for the sequel probably showed up in the opening weekend, and if a good portion of people experience errors and had to take four hours out of their time just to see the movie, they might not want to come back a second time for the same experience.
For families a 3-hour film is stretching for almost all families, but having to stay for 4 hours is impossible. Unfortunately, Avatar 2 was amazing, and the new technology is worth it, but these errors hurt the chances of potentially “breaking even” for families who can’t afford to lose such a huge chunk of their day.
Have you seen Avatar: The Way of Water? If so, tell us what your experience was like!