SANTA MONICA, Calif. Before he takes moviegoers deep beneath the Pandoran sea, James Cameron hopes theyll go for an extended tour of the fictional planet he introduced in Avatar.
Avatar: Special Edition, which includes 9 minutes of new footage, opens in 3-D theaters worldwide Friday.
Im trying to use the technology to keep people interested and enthused about the Avatar universe, because its going to be a long time before we get another Avatar movie done, the filmmaker said in a recent interview.
Cameron, 56, already has plans for the Avatar sequels.
Hes also got a submarine to build, cameras for the Mars rover to design, an underwater 3-D camera to upgrade and maybe even an ocean-related feature to make.
But first, he had to select and perfect new Avatar footage and persuade distributor 20th Century Fox to rerelease the film theatrically in 3-D.
Cameron said there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who wanted to see the movie in 3-D but didnt get the chance because Avatar was edged out of 3-D theaters by other scheduled 3-D releases. Since then, the number of available 3-D screens has doubled internationally, he said.
Fox executives said in a statement that they have been inundated with requests to rerelease the film in theaters in 3-D since it wrapped its original run in March.
Avatar boasts the biggest box-office take in history, collecting $2.7 billion worldwide.
Bringing the movie back to the big screen is an experiment inspired by initial fan response to the movie, Cameron said.
It was the most pirated film in history at the same time it was the most attended film in movie theaters, he said, adding that some who saw the movie on DVD or on their computer screens may want to enjoy it in all its big-screen, 3-D glory.
The new footage is sprinkled throughout the movie. One bit focuses on the death of one of the planets native humanoids, the tailed, blue Navi. His death is hinted at in the original film, but in the extended version, We actually see him die, Cameron said.
Not like he splats to the ground, but how they gather around him afterwards, he said. Its this big emotional scene and its actually the best CG we did in the whole movie.
Another scene follows a hunt for one of Pandoras bizarre creatures in a rousing action-adventure, pulse-pounding kind of scene, he said.
The extended version will appear on a special-edition DVD to be released in November. It also will include a more expanded, alternate reality version of the film that is 16 minutes longer than the original, Cameron said.
He already has begun technical development on an Avatar sequel that will focus on the planets ocean environment.
I love diving, he said, and if Im making this movie, Im not going to be diving as much as Id like, so Im going to give myself a kind of methadone fix by doing fantasy ocean.
He will also get a dose of underwater fun in the submarine hes building in Australia. Cameron plans to explore the Pacifics Mariana Trench in a two-seater sub that can go 36,000 feet below the surface.
Hes working on upgrading his 3-D underwater camera and is helping build a space-age 3-D camera for the new Mars rover, Curiosity.
Youll be able to see Mars going by, in 3-D, he said.
Hes also working on a 3-D conversion of Titanic, which he hopes to release in April 2012, the 100-year anniversary of its sailing and sinking.
Cameron is excited by the promise of 3-D and a future in which every screen is dimensionalized which he thinks is just a few years away.
Youll still need glasses in the movie theater, but youll have video, youll have laptops, all your small devices, the iPads and all that stuff will be without glasses, he said. Were basically revolutionizing how people watch stuff.
Were rewriting the contract between humans and screens. The whole world is defined by humans watching screens we watch screens at work, we watch screens for entertainment and were changing it.