On December 18, 2009, MTV News published our first "Avatar" cheat sheet, pulling together years' worth of newsy updates, interviews, video, sneak peeks and more. A month later, as the 3-D blockbuster headed into what would become the fifth of its seven straight weekends at the top of the box office, we reloaded our "Avatar" cheat sheet because audiences couldn't get enough of James Cameron's alien epic.
Now, "Avatar" is coming back again in a special, 3-D-only version, so our cheat sheet is getting the three-peat treatment. A lot has happened in these last, Pandora-free months. Here's everything you need to know about "Avatar: Special Edition."
After the Oscars
While "Avatar" triumphed at the box office, it undoubtedly disappointed at the Oscars, winning three categories but losing Best Picture and Best Director to "The Hurt Locker." But by that point, Cameron was already looking ahead, hinting at plans that he would re-release the film, enhanced with fresh footage, later in the year.
"Well, here's what's in discussion, and it's not locked in yet," Cameron told us a few weeks later. "After the DVD release [of 'Avatar'], we're going to do a theatrical re-release toward the end of the summer, into September. Because there were a lot of people who still wanted to see the movie in IMAX 3-D that didn't get a chance to do it. We were still playing very strongly in 3-D theaters until a lot of our 3-D theaters went by contractual agreement to 'Alice in Wonderland,' " Cameron told us a few weeks later. "So we know people still want to have that theatrical experience. We actually think that the home experience and the theatrical experience can coexist."
Not until July, though, was the official announcement made: "Avatar" would return to theaters on August 27, exclusively on Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D screens.
Returning to Pandora
Why even take "Avatar" back to the cinema? Producer Jon Landau explained it thusly: "This is just about appealing to two groups of people: one are fans of the movie that want to return to Pandora, and two are people that have never seen the movie. I can't tell you how many people have said to me, 'Gee, I never got to see it, and then it was out of the theaters.' It's about servicing those two groups."
The big question for both those groups headed into the re-release was what new footage Cameron would include. We already knew the DVD would eventually deliver a slew of extra footage. But what would Cameron fix up and deliver?
Star Sam Worthington tossed us some hints in July. "There are several different hunts that the characters go on, there's a sex scene that everyone keeps talking about that is going to be unique," he said. "There's a lot of other stuff to do with the Na'vi. And there is also a lot of other live-action stuff that got taken out as well because of time constraints and at the time not knowing if the movie was going to be successful or not."
The Things They Left Behind
After we'd all done enough speculating, Cameron himself delivered some solid info earlier this month. "There's a pretty powerful emotional scene at the end, which is Tsu'tey's death ... which happens off-camera in the original release," he said. "[In the original film] he kind of falls off the back of the shuttle, and that's the last that you see of him, but here we follow through. We have this emotional scene with Jake [Sully] and Neytiri and some other Na'vi that gather around him in the forest," Cameron said. "Incorporating that footage back in was a no-brainer.
"The alien kink scene?" he added. "It's been restored, every last frame of it. Seriously. I would say, just so that we correctly manage people's expectations," he explained carefully, "it does not change our rating at all. I would call it more of an alien foreplay scene. It's not like they're ripping their clothes off and going at it."
Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."
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