Yes, you heard that right.
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The Avatar franchise is the brainchild of world-renowned director James Cameron. Making billions at the box office on the regular, the Avatar series (the ones with the blue aliens, not the Airbenders) currently holds the record for the highest-grossing movie of all time, with Avatar (2009) and its theatrical rereleases raking in major cash. Of course, 2009’s Avatar was beaten by fellow The Walt Disney Company-owned franchise, superhero property The Avengers, after Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Avengers: Endgame took the world by storm back in 2019. Sequel Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) came extremely close to beating Endgame‘s record, which Cameron is likely going nuts over. The Avatar brand also extends beyond the silver screen — to theme parks, like that of Pandora — The World of Avatar, located in Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, alongside other unique experiences.
Cameron’s newest film, Avatar: The Way of Water or Avatar 2, is the sequel to Avatar set significantly underwater. It stars returning leads Zoe Saldaña (Neytiri te Tskaha Mo’at’ite AKA Neytiri Sully) and Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), now parents to Sigourney Weaver’s Kiri te Suli Kireysi’ite (Kiri Sully), Jake and Neytiri’s adoptive teen daughter. Their biological children are played by Jamie Flatters as Neteyam te Suli Tsyeyk’itan (Neteyam Sully), Britain Dalton as Lo’ak te Suli Tsyeyk’itan (Lo’ak Sully), and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss as Tuktirey “Tuk” te Suli Neytiri’ite (Tuktirey “Tuk” Sully). Jemaine Clement also stars as Dr. Ian Garvin, a marine biologist, while Ronal, a free diver of the Metkayina is played by Kate Winslet. Stephen Lang also returns as Colonel Miles Quaritch, the antagonist from the first film whose memories have been inserted into a Na’vi Avatar body as a “recombinant”, following his demise. Cliff Curtis is Tonowari, Metkayina clan chief and Ronal’s husband, Joel David Moore plays Dr. Norm Spellman, CCH Pounder is Neytiri’s mother Mo’at, and Jack Champion is Quaritch’s son, Miles “Spider” Socorro.
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Why does James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water have so much extra footage?
It appears that James Cameron is seriously redefining “director’s cut”.
Avatar: The Way of Water is already a film that has a particularly lengthy runtime of 3 hours and 12 minutes — which already exceeds that of the first two Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films, with The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) both a minute or two shy of a full three hours. And we’re merely comparing theatrical releases, here. The world of Tolkien’s Middle-earth appears to lose out once again to Cameron’s Avatar regarding its digital or “extended” runtime, as even The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King‘s (2003) extended edition runtime is only a measly 4 hours and 11 minutes long.
All of this is no match for the upcoming Avatar: The Way of Water digital release, which according to Scott Gustin, has footage that when added together, is effectively double that of its theatrical. Apparently, the March 28, 2023 release will “include 3 hours of bonus footage”:
Avatar: The Way of Water will release on digital on March 28. The digital release will include 3 hours of bonus footage. No date has been announced for Blu-ray or Disney+.
Avatar: The Way of Water will release on digital on March 28.
The digital release will include 3 hours of bonus footage. No date has been announced for Blu-ray or Disney+. pic.twitter.com/C2kfodAylx
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) March 7, 2023
Although no date has yet been released for Blu-ray or its migration to streaming over at parent company’s Disney+, it’s doubtful that this “bonus footage” will be exclusive to the official digital release. Considering the years it took to bring the Avatar sequel to fruition, it’s likely that there’s just a ton of footage on the cutting room floor. We don’t yet know what this upcoming “bonus footage” entails exactly, but whether an extended directors cut or absolutely massive amounts of behind-the-scenes footage, Avatar aficionados can be sure that they will be staring at a lot of water — for roughly six hours.
Looks like fans of the series will have a lot more time to dive into the deep (blue) world of Avatar, in the comfort of their own — hopefully dry — homes.
What do you think about the six hour runtime including bonus footage for Avatar: The Way of Water? Share your thoughts in the comments below!