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Idea & Info: James Cameron's AVATAR Day - 15-minute preview from August 21, 2009


Well, I hate to be off-topic and I hate to be TL;DR-worthy, but it was about a full 10 years ago, on a Friday, August 21st, 2009, that the world (and myself included) had received a first look, in IMAX 3D, and for free, at 15 minutes of James Cameron’s then-upcoming science fiction blockbuster epic, AVATAR (not to be confused – under penalty of death – with the Nickelodeon cartoon subtitled The Last Airbender). And oh boy! I do remember getting excited for James Cameron’s AVATAR at the time.

Yes, James Cameron himself had already screen 25 minutes of footage from AVATAR at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con at Hall H a month before, and yes, the day before Avatar Day, a small 2D teaser trailer for the movie came out online to mixed criticism, but Avatar Day was really that one time, nearly a full decade ago, that I went to see some free 15-minute preview of James Cameron’s AVATAR movie in IMAX 3D, no less. And oh boy! I was really blown away by what I saw in IMAX 3D for a free 15 minutes!

First, there was James Cameron’s intro to Avatar Day in which he was just letting us know that what we’re about to witness that day is a spoiler-free 15 minute collection of no less than six scenes from the first half of his Avatar movie. And he also gave us some brief overview of what we (and Jake Sully, the main character of the movie, that is) were about to be heading for that Christmas of 2009: A distant alien world out in space that’s also as dangerous as it is beautiful called Pandora, no less.

– The very first scene that the Avatar Day preview footage highlighted on August 21st, 2009 was the scene where The Quaritch guy (Stephen Lang) was talking to newbies on Pandora about the dangers of that world and also mentions something about the big blue people who called Pandora home: The Na’vi.

– The second scene highlighted by the Avatar Day preview footage on August 21st, 2009, was the scene where Jake Sully, the main character in the movie, connects his brain to his avatar body for the very first time. In the words of Jake himself: This is great!

– Now, the third scene highlighted by the AVATAR Day preview footage on August 21st, 2009, is the scene where Jake’s Avatar body frightens away a six-legged alien rhino-like creature known as a Hammerhead Titanothere, only to be chased into the forest by a six-legged black panther-like monster called a Thanator.

– I think the fourth scene highlighted by the AVATAR Day preview footage on August 21st, 2009, was probably the scene where Jake Sully’s avatar was attacked by a vicious pack of Viperwolves only for a Na’vi princess named Neytiri to come to his rescue.

– The fifth scene highlighted by the AVATAR Day preview footage on August 21st, 2009, was the scene where Jake Sully’s avatar met the Na’vi princess Neytiri for the first time, gets scolded by her, and was surrounded by glowing jellyfish-like wood-sprites on a log bridge. All amidst a bio-luminescent nighttime scene.

– And the sixth and final scene highlighted by the AVATAR Day preview footage on August 21st, 2009 was the scene where Jake Sully’s avatar tames and then rides a Mountain Banshee, or Ikran, as the Na’vi will call the creature, on one of the floating mountains of Pandora.

After all that, the AVATAR Day preview on August 21st, 2009 concludes with an extra montage of clips featuring more of the end battle scene and brief extensions to what was already seen in the small 2D teaser to the movie the day before. And oh boy! I was so hyped for that movie!

And four months later, I went to see the whole AVATAR movie on December 17-18, 2009, a full week before Christmas Day 2009. And all that happened about a full 10 years ago, so long ago now.

James Cameron’s AVATAR movie went on to eclipse his earlier 1997 film Titanic to become the all-time highest grossing movie in the whole wide world at the time (before Avengers: Endgame came along in this year of 2019, of course) but not before experiencing a seriously powerful backlash against it afterwards.

But I will never, ever forget that one time, long ago, that the world, and myself, too, got a free, 15-minute first look in IMAX 3D of James Cameron’s 2009 epic blockbuster AVATAR. Especially one in the shape and form of AVATAR Day, August 21st, 2009, that is.

And also, in spite of the very fact that the main character was a former soldier, as well as the fact that the main character turned against his very own people and culture, after finding himself in a different culture and world other than his very own and having to earn his way through said culture and falling in love with a woman who calls the alien planet her home, which is what made many people scream it copied everything from Dances with Wolves and FernGully and The Last of the Mohicans to Pocahontas and Halo and The Last Samurai, Jim Cameron still have the right nonetheless to wait a full decade for the technology to evolve and catch up to his vision for AVATAR so he can make it in the first place.

Finally, AVATAR was meant by James Cameron himself to be this familiar type of adventure story that also just happened to take place in an unfamiliar kind of environment, since it sets a classic kind of story – that of a newcomer to a foreign land and culture – on an alien planet like Pandora.

A thousand apologies for making this post too long to read, and you folks don’t have to read all of it if you want to, but I don’t know if the 15-minute AVATAR Day preview will ever need any preserving or restoration work – especially in 2D or 3D – or not, but do you?

Also, have some of you catch the 15-minute AVATAR Day preview footage on August 21, 2009, which is almost a full 10 years ago? Just asking.


Jonno said:

When was this?

Like I’ve said, Jonno, the James Cameron’s AVATAR Day preview screenings just so happened at 6pm and at 7pm on a Friday evening on August 21st, 2009, which is also about 10 years ago.

Also, I was on one of the AVATAR DAY preview screenings across the US on that day at an IMAX 3D theatre at White Marsh in Baltimore.

The AVATAR Day preview screenings of August 21st, 2009 was also among the very last if probably the very last great event trailer moment(s) for the major motion picture screen before they switched to online sneaks and saturation level information dumps, certainly as far as I know.


I was there too, it was indeed very special. Hope the footage can be recovered.

Another much needed project would be the AVATAR THEATRICAL CUT with the original 2:35 aspect ratio. Frankly, I’m shocked that it can’t be found anywhere.


Hate to bump this by a full year, but I am letting you all know that today is the eleven-year anniversary of James Cameron’s 15-minute AVATAR Day preview footage which I happen to see in IMAX 3-D on Friday August 21st, 2009 at 6pm!