- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2009

If you noticed a line of fans buzzing excitedly outside your local 3-D theater this evening and was wondering what all the excitement was about, wonder no more: Today is Avatar Day.

“Avatar,” the new film by James Cameron due for release in December, has been birthed in a sea of buzz: Filmmakers who have seen the 3-D project that takes place on a distant planet populated by computer generated creations have described the movie’s look as “revolutionary” and “mind-blowing.” A select audience got their first look at the footage at the San Diego Comic Con.

A nationwide audience was treated to a special glimpse of Mr. Cameron’s new movie, via an introduction from the director himself, a trailer, and an extended, 15 minute 3-D sequence.

Tickets for the event were distributed at www.avatarmovie.com for free on a first-come, first-serve basis; and despite a few server hiccups, the ticket giveaway was largely glitch free. A promotion like this in-theater experience is almost unprecedented. Movie studios are typically content to attach a trailer for a much-hyped film to a major release.

“Today, we’re going to do way more than” just show a trailer, Mr. Cameron told fanboys and girls nationwide in a prerecorded message. Locally, the clip was playing on the Imax screen at the AMC Hoffman Center 22, in Alexandria. “Prepare to enter the world of ‘Avatar.’”

The clip showcased the 3-D advances Mr. Cameron and his production company have been working on, and immersed audiences in the world of the Navi, giant blue cat-like creatures that roam the world of Pandora, where the movie is set. At the end of the 15-minute reel, the audience at the AMC Hoffman clapped enthusiastically and filed out.

“Avatar” the movie wasn’t the only highlight of Avatar Day: Consumers also got a first look at the line of toys from Mattel and the video game from Ubisoft via a trailer for the game at their website.

“For us, it’s an exciting day,” said Scott Sappenfield, associate director for marketing at Ubisoft. “We’ve been talking about the video game a little bit at our major events leading up to this, but this is really the kickoff of the entire world and property of Avatar. It’s just kind of exciting to be a part of it.”

The technicians at Ubisoft worked hand-in-hand with Mr. Cameron and his production company to make sure the game stayed true to Mr. Cameron’s vision. The marketing for Ubisoft’s game also will serve as a key way for audiences to grow acquainted with the universe of “Avatar” before the film’s release.

“What you’re going to see from us is just revealing more and more of the world as we get closer to the launch of the game,” Mr. Sappenfield said. “Gameplay, for sure, but unveiling the experiences and the drama that you’ll go through as being part of this world and part of the game.”

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