True Lies

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

20th Century;
Action;
$39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for a lot of action/violence and some language.
Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Art Malik, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Charlton Heston.

Director James Cameron’s True Lies is fondly remembered as one of the best action films of the 1990s, though its long-awaited release on Blu-ray (arriving in a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack) has caused a bit of a stir.

Based on the 1991 French spy comedy La Totale!, 1994’s True Lies stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as American secret agent Harry Tasker, taking on dangerous missions to infiltrate terrorist lairs. However, his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter (Eliza Dushku in one of her early roles) believe he’s just a boring computer salesman.

Harry becomes distracted from his current case when he learns his wife might be cheating on him with a slick ladies man (Bill Paxton) posting as a spy to introduce some excitement into her life. Diverting his spycraft to track her instead, Harry’s personal and professional lives intertwine when he and his wife are kidnapped by the actual terrorists he’s supposed to be investigating, forcing him to go into action movie mode to save their family.

The movie offers some nice nods to the James Bond films, which at the time served to film a void in the over-the-top action spy genre. The Bond series had been dormant for five years at this point following 1989’s Licence to Kill, and wouldn’t pick up again until Goldeneye a year later in 1995.

The plot mechanics involving the setup of Harry’s double life tend to cause the middle section of the plot to drag out as all the pieces are being set up for the finale. Luckily Cameron compensates with the bulk of the film’s comedy, primarily involving the interplay between Harry and his partner, Gibs (played hilariously by Tom Arnold). There’s also a memorable cameo by Charlton Heston as the spy chief, whose eyepatch and gruff demeanor are clearly inspired by Marvel Comics’ Nick Fury (the original white version of the character, before he was reintroduced in 2001 to look like Samuel L. Jackson).

The setup and payoff would seem to naturally lend themselves to a sequel, though a proper one never materialized. Cameron would go on to make Titanic for release in 1997, but by the time the pieces were in place for a follow-up to True Lies, the terror attacks of 9/11 sapped his enthusiasm for the concept. He moved on to make the “Avatar” movies instead, while Schwarzenegger in 2003 was elected governor of California.

Tom Arnold in 2005 starred in a film called The Kid & I in which he’s hired by his billionaire neighbor to make a sequel to True Lies to star the man’s son, who has cerebral palsy — Schwarzenegger and Curtis make cameos.

A series remaking the movie debuted on CBS in 2023. The pilot essentially rehashed story arc of the film to get Harry’s wife involved in his spy business, setting up the series to be about a husband-and-wife spy team engaging on missions, which is more or less what the movie had set up. However, the show was pretty terrible and was canceled after two months on the air.

Schwarzenegger himself in 2023 would make Netflix series called “FUBAR” that, while nominally unrelated to True Lies could serve almost as a spiritual sequel to the film. The premise involves Arnold as a spy keeping his career a secret from his family, but then learns his daughter is also a spy who has been keeping her double life secret from him.

While the show might have left some fans pondering what might have been, it also called attention to the fact that the original film had still not been released on Blu-ray Disc in the United States nearly 30 years after its debut in theaters. It might pop up for streaming here and there, but the most widely available physical media options thus far were the 1999 DVD release or defunct formats such as VHS.

The new 4K and Blu-ray discs are certainly a step up over those — colors are more vibrant and details are more defined. But some fans have been complaining about the 4K transfer since its digital release in December. The remastering process supposedly used an AI process to smooth out the image to eliminate grain, which tends to leave surfaces, particularly skin, preternaturally smooth. The image also tends to look a bit soft at times. But the action looks great, the sound mix is effective, and overall, it’s probably better to have these than nothing at all (especially since remastering these again isn’t likely to be a priority anytime soon).

The new combo pack includes the film on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray, with a handful of extras included only on the Blu-ray. These include the 43-minute retrospective featurette “Fear Is Not an Option: A Look Back at True Lies” that was released a few months ago when the digital edition of the film because available. This offers a pretty good overview of the making of the film and its legacy, though a number of interviews were seemingly conducted a decade ago for a featurette that had been planned to go with an earlier rumored Blu-ray release that never materialized.

There is also an archive of various production and marketing materials, including the film’s trailer, a digital copy of a screenplay marked with notes, and galleries of storyboards, set blueprints, production photos and promotional posters.

 

Six James Cameron Blockbusters Rolling Out on 4K for Disc and Digital Purchase

Six of director James Cameron’s biggest theatrical hits are being re-released in 4K Ultra HD on a transactional basis. Three of the films — 1986’s Aliens, 1989’s The Abyss and 1994’s True Lies — will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time ever in collector’s editions on March 12, 2024.

The 4K transfer for each release will be presented in Dolby Vision HDR and with an immersive Dolby Atmos audio mix. Additionally, most of the releases will arrive with several hours of new bonus features. The 4K UHD physical releases will come on 100GB discs for maximum space and bit rates.

All six films were originally released by 20th Century Fox, which Disney acquired four years ago, and helmed by Cameron, who in a statement said, “There’s a world of emotions in revisiting these films and I hope we’ve captured some of that in the new bonus materials we created for our fans.”

Producer Jon Landau added, “We really wanted to deliver the best possible experience at home so viewers could immerse themselves both in the films and the journeys we went through to make them.”

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The Cameron rollout begins Dec. 5 with Paramount’s previously announced 25th anniversary release of Titanic on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. (Paramount handled domestic distribution of the film while Fox had international rights). The film also will be available in 4K Ultra HD for digital purchase through such retailers as Prime Video, Vudu and Apple TV.

Next, on Dec. 12, come AliensThe AbyssTrue Lies and new special-editions of Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water, available in 4K Ultra HD for digital purchase from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

On Dec. 19, Disney will release special-edition Blu-ray Discs of Avatar (available as a 4K Collector’s Edition, a 3D Blu-ray and a 4K limited-edition Steelbook exclusive to Best Buy) and Avatar: The Way of Water (4K Collector’s Edition).

Avatar will include new extras such as “Behind-The-Scenes Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau,” “Colonel Miles Quaritch RDA Promos” and a new still gallery in addition to legacy bonus material.

The Avatar Steelbook (Disney photo)

New Way of Water extras include “Behind-the-Scenes Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau,” “Production Design Panel Hosted by Jon Landau,” “Memories From Avatar: The Way of Water” with Landau and several cast members, deleted/extended scenes, scene deconstructions and more production featurettes, in addition to the extras released when the film was first released on home video earlier this year.

What Disney is now calling 20th Century Studios on Dec. 6 will present the deep sea adventure The Abyss: Special Edition in theaters for a special one-night-only event. Tickets go on sale Nov. 20 and can be purchased at Fandango or wherever tickets are sold.

The home viewing editions of The Abyss will include the featurettes “Deep Dive: A Conversation with James Cameron” and “The Legacy of The Abyss,” plus archival featurettes and production materials.

True Lies, which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a spy trying to keep his dual identity a secret from his family, will include the new documentary “Fear Is Not an Option: A Look Back at True Lies,” archival documents, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Aliens, a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien, does not include any new bonus materials, but does include legacy featurettes and commentaries.

James Cameron’s Remastered ‘Titanic’ to Bow on 4K Ultra HD Disc for First Time Dec. 5

Paramount Home Entertainment will release James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic — the first movie to earn more than $1 billion at the global box office — for the first time on 4K Ultra HD disc Dec. 5.

The two-disc set will include the film on 4K Ultra HD and a Blu-ray Disc with more than five hours of new and legacy bonus content, including new interviews with Cameron, star Kate Winslet and producer Jon Landau. The set also includes access to a digital Ultra HD copy of the film.

Titanic will also debut in a limited-edition collector’s boxed set that includes all of the above along with the following exclusive collectibles in a slipcase:

  • A hardcover coffee table book detailing the making of the film’s most iconic scenes
  • A detailed schematic inspired by the actual ship blueprint, highlighting locations of key scenes
  • Movie prop reproductions of a boarding pass, launch viewing ticket, ship menus, and notes from Jack to Rose and Rose to Cal
  • Sheet music for the multi-award-winning hit “My Heart Will Go On”
     

The film follows the story of star-crossed lovers Cal and Rose (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) set against the backdrop of the legendary and ill-fated maiden voyage of the “unsinkable” ship Titanic. The film has generated more than $2.2 billion at the global box office to date.

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Bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc include:

  • “Titanic: Stories From the Heart” (new): Director James Cameron, producer Jon Landau and star Kate Winslet share memories and favorite moments and recount the challenges of making the film with film clips, photos and behind-the-scenes moments.
  • “Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron”: Cameron explores the enduring myths and mysteries of the shipwreck, and mounts tests to see whether Jack could have fit on that raft and survived.
  • behind-the-scenes presentation hosted by Jon Landau (new): Jon Landau introduces a series of behind-the-scenes segments showcasing the making of the film.
  • trailer presentation hosted by Jon Landau (new): Landau shares an inside glimpse into the marketing of the film with a story of how a 4-minute trailer overseen by the filmmakers was delivered to theaters, instead of the original “action” trailer.
  • fan poster art (new)
  • “Reflections on Titanic” (four parts)
  • deleted scenes with optional commentary by Cameron
  • additional behind-the-scenes
  • deep-dive presentation narrated by Cameron
  • “$200,000,001: A Ship’s Odyssey” (the Titanic crew video)
  • videomatics
  • visual effects
  • music video “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
  • still galleries

 

Extras on the 4K Ultra HD disc include:

  • director commentary by Cameron
  • cast and crew commentary
  • historical commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall

‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ ‘The Covenant’ Top List of New Disc Releases of June 20

June 20 sees one of the biggest films of the past year, Avatar: The Way of Water, make its way to DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats. Also new to DVD and Blu-ray is Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant.

Disney June 20 releases 20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 3D Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The film has been available through digital retailers since March.

From director James Cameron, the sequel brings viewers back to Pandora, where humans have returned with plans to colonize the alien moon. Hunted by a squadron of hybrid Na’vi marines, the now Na’vi Jake Sully flees with his family to hide among the clans who inhabit Pandora’s oceans.

The film, the No. 1 movie of 2022 with a worldwide gross of $2.32 billion, and $684 million domestically. It was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and won for Best Visual Effects.

Produced by Cameron and his longtime filmmaking partner Jon Landau, the 20th Century Studios-Lightstorm Entertainment production stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. Joining the adult cast are newcomers Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass and Jack Champion.

The Avatar: The Way of Water Blu-ray releases include the three hours of bonus featurettes released with the digital version. Read a review here.

Also arriving June 20 is the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the original 2009 Avatar with high dynamic range for the first time. It also becomes available in 4K from digital retailers. The 4K edition of the original Avatar has both existing and new bonus features including “Memories From Avatar,” where producer Jon Landau leads a conversation with cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang, recalling memories from production and reflecting on the success of the film. “Avatar: A Look Back” provides a retrospective where cast and filmmakers reflect on their journey making Avatar, the groundbreaking technologies they used to create it, and the effect the film had on audiences worldwide.

The action thriller Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be released on Blu-ray and DVD June 20 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment. Directed by Guy Ritchie (Wrath of Man, Aladdin) from a screenplay by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, the film is produced by Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, John Friedberg and Josh Berger. The Covenant stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Ambulance, Spider-Man: Far from Home), Dar Salim (“Game of Thrones”), Antony Starr (“The Boys”), Alexander Ludwig (Bad Boys for Life, “Vikings”), Bobby Schofield (Cherry), Emily Beecham (Cruella) and Jonny Lee Miller (T2 Trainspotting). The film follows U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley (Gyllenhaal) and Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Salim). After an ambush, Ahmed goes to Herculean lengths to save Kinley’s life. When Kinley learns that Ahmed and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised, he must repay his debt by returning to the war zone to retrieve them before the Taliban hunts them down. 

Season 16 of the procedural series  “Criminal Minds” — “Criminal Minds: Evolution” — arrives on Blu-ray and DVD June 20 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The three-disc release includes all episodes of season 16 (which also streams on Paramount+) and more than 35 minutes of special features, including three featurettes. In season 16, the FBI’s elite team of criminal profilers come up against their greatest threat yet, an unsub who has used the pandemic to build a network of other serial killers. As the world opens back up, the network goes operational, and the team must hunt them down, one murder at a time. Season 16 stars original cast members Joe Mantegna (David Rossi), A.J. Cook (J.J. Jareau), Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia), Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis), Adam Rodriguez (Luke Alvez) and Paget Brewster (Emily Prentiss) as well as Zach Gilford (Elias Voit).

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The Chinese animated fantasy adventure I Am T-Rex debuts on digital, Blu-ray and DVD June 20 from Well Go USA Entertainment. In the film, after a power-hungry dinosaur from outside the valley attacks the king of dinosaurs by surprise, a young T-Rex escapes and begins to train, vowing never to return until he is the biggest and bravest in all the land — and finally strong enough to challenge the evil Fang and restore peace to Green Valley. Directed by Cai Shangming and Chen Silin, I Am T-Rex features a new English dub.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Avatar: The Way of Water

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 6/20/23;
Disney/20th Century;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $684.08 million;
$29.99 DVD, $36.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD, $39.99 3D BD, $19.99 Digital;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language.
Stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Jemaine Clement, Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, Trinity Jo-Lo Bliss, Jack Champion, Bailey Bass.

The big question mark surrounding the box office prospects of an Avatar sequel was whether or not the first film had enough pop culture clout. After all, it’s not as if it were the topic of many conversions despite being the highest-grossing film of all time.

I think in the decade since that first movie came out, the only instance I can recall of Avatar being referenced by characters on another TV show or movie was in an episode of “The Rookie,” and that was only due to some corporate synergy to promote the sequel. (For corporate cross-promotion, it seems, “The Rookie” is Disney’s go-to show.)

But another adage going around Hollywood just before the release of Avatar: The Way of Water was “don’t bet against James Cameron.” And sure enough, the film ended up at No. 3 on the all-time list. And yet the franchise still doesn’t seem to be much of a conversation piece a la “Star Wars” or “Top Gun” or the Marvel movies or Zack Snyder’s Justice League, aside from “can you believe Avatar 2 made $2.3 billion dollars?”

A primary reason for this might be how much the “Avatar” films are designed as big-screen spectacles, almost akin to an amusement park ride or a traveling exhibit. Every few years, audiences can visit a large-format theater for the visual splendor of a tour of an exotic alien world, in this case, the exo-moon of Pandora, in eye-popping 3D. The story is almost a secondary concern, crafted to provide the excuse for the visuals, though Cameron clearly sees the films as parables for the plight of indigenous peoples and the impact of industrialization on the environment.

Nothing is more important to how a film leaves a lasting impression on a viewer than that first experience in seeing it, and there is probably no franchise that demonstrates the gap between the big screen and the small screen in this regard than “Avatar.”

For most films with staying power, the stories and characters will translate well despite being viewed in a theater or at home. I saw the original Avatar in Imax 3D, and was as blown away by the visual effects as anyone else, until a baffling plot oversight to set up the final battle took me out of the movie.

So I didn’t bother with the sequel in theaters, and my first impression would have to wait until I could play it on my 4K TV. As with the first film, the visual effects are so extensive that it’s easy to see why this would be a popular choice to see on the big screen.

The story probably works a bit better, too, and offers more depth in the emotional stakes. If the first Avatar was Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully, this one could be Free Willy meets Tarzan. Set about 15 years after the events of the first film, The Way of Water finds Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), having transferred to his alien avatar body, raising a family with Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) and leading their Na’vi clan.

Then the humans return to reclaim Pandora as the future home of humanity, while a clone of Quaritch (Stephan Lang) in a new avatar body leads a squad to hunt down Jake for betraying humanity in the first film. With his family under threat, Jake, Neytiri and their kids seek refuge with a clan of Na’vi who evolved to live in the sea, thus providing the film a template for allowing the audience to explore Pandora’s oceans.

For the story to work, Cameron also has to introduce new elements to the storyline that weren’t present in the original movie, most notably the addition of Spider (Jake Champion) a human teenager who was too young to return to Earth and thus grew up on Pandora as a loincloth wearing Na’vi wild child Na’vi wannabe.

There are several parallels to the events of the first film, including the introduction of a new magical substance to generate humanity’s interest in Pandora. Where the humans of the first film were interested in mining “unobtanium” ore, in Way of Water it’s about hunting alien whales, whose brains secrete an ooze that reverses aging.

The visuals are inventive, but the ubiquitous CGI and high frame rate make the film feel more like a video game without the human characters to provide some sense of scale. Every so often I had to remind myself this was supposed to be a representation of live-action, not a cartoon — a concern likely obviated in a theatrical setting with darkened lighting and 3D polarized lenses.

I’m not saying it isn’t fun to watch, but on the small screen it’s not so different in concept than many other visual effects extravaganzas. However, the filmmakers do take full advantage of the higher capacity of the 4K disc and HDR10 to really show off the visual effects, which are particularly bright and vivid compared with the image from the film’s standard Blu-ray, which itself offers some of the best picture quality the format allows. Also, at least at home the ability to start and stop the movie makes the three-hour running time easier to digest.

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The home video edition comes with a massive trove of behind-the-scenes material that runs more than three hours long, and as a primer on filmmaking techniques is probably more interesting than the movie itself.

The bulk is contained in the two-and-a-half-hour “Inside Pandora’s Box,” a series of 14 featurettes that delve into the technical challenges of the film, from the intricacies of crafting the visual effects to designing new alien sea creatures to expanding the Na’vi language. Of note, even though most of the characters are CGI aliens, the cast still performed the parts using performance capture techniques, which didn’t always let them off the hook in regards to doing stunts; for the sake of realism, several of the actors in performance-capture camera rigs still had to shoot scenes underwater, and learn how to hold their breath for minutes at a time to do so. Figuring out how to integrate Spider into the CG environments and interacting with CG characters also led to new challenges for the Oscar-winning effects team.

A half-hour supplement called “More From Pandora’s Box” offers four additional featurettes that focus on stunts and some of the below-the-line players that are essential to the film’s technical achievements, including a troupe of performers who put on blue suits to stand in for the Na’vi on set to provide reference for the CGI artists. Also included are screen tests from some of the new young cast members, which reveals a unique challenge for casting a film with a production schedule that lasts several years — having to cast a child while studying their family to project whether they’ll still fit the part in a few years when they appear on camera.

Rounding out the extras is a package of marketing materials that runs a total of about 10 minutes, including two trailers and a “Nothing Is Lost” music video by The Weeknd.

Note that these are the exact same extras included with the digital release of the film back in March. There are no exclusives for disc, which would have been a nice incentive for physical media buyers. At least the new 4K of the original 2009 Avatar has some new retrospective featurettes.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Avatar: The Way of Water is a three-disc set that includes the film on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray disc. All the extras are contained on the third disc, which also is a regular Blu-ray. Rounding out the package is a redemption code for a digital copy. The standard Blu-ray is a two-disc configuration, with the movie on one disc and the extras on another. The 3D edition is a four-disc set that includes the 3D version of the film split among two discs, joined by the regular Blu-ray Discs of the film and the bonus materials.

On the digital side of things, the bonus materials are subject to availability depending on the retailer. However, since Disney is a Movies Anywhere company it shouldn’t be too hard to access a member retailer that offers the extras (Movies Anywhere has them, as does Vudu).

Updated from a review of the digital version, originally published April 3, 2023.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ to Stream on Disney+ and Max Beginning June 7

James Cameron’s hit sequel Avatar: The Way of Water will stream on both Disney+ and Max (formerly HBO Max) starting June 7.

Disney+ announced the feature will include bonus content with filmmakers, cast and crew.

The film debuted in theaters on Dec. 16 and became the third-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide with nearly $2.32 billion at the box office. It was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture.

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Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water launches the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

Disney Sets March 28 Digital Home Release Date for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’

The Walt Disney Co. has set a March 28 home release date for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which will initially be available only for digital purchase from most major digital retailers, including Vudu, Redbox On Demand, Prime Video and Apple TV.

A DVD and Blu-ray Disc release date has not yet been announced, but is expected to follow.

The belated sequel to 2009’s original Avatar is the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, earning more than $2.2 billion worldwide ($607.7 million domestic) and receiving four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

The film’s digital release will offer 4K Ultra HD quality and immersive Dolby Atmos audio. The release includes three hours of never-before-seen bonus content featuring the filmmakers, cast and crew.

In Avatar: The Way of Water, director Cameron returns to the world of Pandora more than a decade after the events of the first film. The sequel launches the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. Audiences also are introduced to new Na’vi cultures and a range of exotic sea creatures that populate the majestic oceans.

Produced by Cameron and his longtime partner Jon Landau, the Lightstorm Entertainment production stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. New cast members include Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass and Jack Champion.

Bonus features include:

  • “Inside Pandora’s Box” — a series of featurettes on the challenges facing cast and crew as filmmakers devise new technologies to push the limits of cinema)
  • “Building the World of Pandora” —  Cameron and a team of talented artists combine years of research with their design skills to build the world of Pandora with new characters, creatures, indigenous clans, underwater environments and the hard-tech world of the RDA.
  • “Capturing Pandora” — Cameron’s approach to performance-capture has the cast performing in a volume rigged with infrared cameras to capture their movement, and head rig cameras to capture emotion on their faces with only the boundaries of imagination to limit them.
  • “The Undersea World of Pandora” — Co-production designer Dylan Cole and his team conceive of the marine creatures required for Avatar: The Way of Water while James Cameron and his stunt team devise extraordinary means to bring those creatures to life in a performance capture tank.
  • “The Challenges of Pandora’s Waters” — Cameron tackles the challenge of performance-capture above and below the water’s surface, utilizing a wave machine and current generator to reproduce ocean conditions, and underwater vehicles to replicate creature movement.
  • “Pandora’s Returning Characters” — Cameron reunites with his returning cast to discuss the evolution of their characters in Avatar: The Way of Water.
  • “Pandora’s Next Generation” — Viewers are introduced to the young newcomers who have been cast as the next generation of Na’vi and follow them through the adventure of making Avatar: The Way of Water.
  • “Spider’s Web” — Cameron introduced the human character of Spider (portrayed by young actor Jack Champion) into the fabric of Pandora, an introduction that created a host of technological challenges on set.
  • “Becoming Na’vi” — The Avatar cast is immersed in the culture of the indigenous Na’vi, living off the land in the Hawaiian rainforest and training in a multitude of disciplines in preparation for their roles.
  • “The Reef People of Pandora” — A look at how the Metkayina reef clan was developed with great attention to detail, bearing unique evolutionary traits and a culture — with new dwellings, new clothes and different way of life — all a result of living off the ocean.
  • “Bringing Pandora to Life” — Once Cameron completed his virtual production process, every sequence was turned over to Weta FX to bring Pandora to life — with significant advancements in facial performance, environments and making CG water look real.
  • “The RDA Returns to Pandora” — Co-production designer Ben Procter and his team present an armada of new vehicles and human technologies that the RDA brings to Pandora — in concept design and with practical builds.
  • “The New Characters of Pandora” — Viewers are introduced to the important new characters of the Avatar saga played by Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell and Jemaine Clement.
  • “The Sounds of Pandora” — Hear how Cameron worked with composer Simon Franglen to create the distinctive music of The Way of Water while building on James Horner’s score for Avatar, and learn how Chris Boyes created the immersive sounds of Pandora.
  • “New Zealand: Pandora’s Home” — The production of the Avatar sequels is so thoroughly ensconced in New Zealand that Cameron considers The Way of Water a “New Zealand film.” Hear reflections from the cast and crew, including the New Zealand crew, on making the film.

 

Also included are the screen tests that won the young cast their roles in Avatar: The Way of Water; a look at the stunt team that did everything from racing underwater on ilus and flying the skies on ikrans to maneuvering RDA speed boats; a virtual visit to the Lightstorm Lab, the backbone of virtual production for the Avatar films; and an inside look at The Troupe, whose members played dozens of roles in the performance capture volume and on live-action sets.

‘Avatar 2’ Tops $2 Billion Global Box Office After Six Weeks in Release

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ sequel Avatar: The Way of Water continues to show strong sea legs, adding another $20 million in projected box office revenue through Jan. 22. The tally is enough to push director James Cameron’s follow-up to his 2009 original Avatar past $2 billion in global theatrical revenue after just six weeks in release.

The movie’s total supplants Sony Pictures’ 2021 global box office champ, Spider-Man: No Way Home ($1.91 billion), as the No. 6 all-time theatrical revenue release — and sits just $20 million behind No. 5, Avengers: Infinity War (Disney/Marvel Studios).

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish added $11.5 million in ticket sales to push its global five-week total near $300 million. The tally was enough to drop former box office champ, Universal’s life-like doll thriller M3GAN, to No. 3 with almost $10 million in revenue. The movie’s global tally after three weeks now approaches $127 million — with a sequel in the works.

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Sony’s new drama release Missing finished the weekend in the No. 4 spot with $9.3 million across more than 3,000 screens. The studio’s Tom Hanks-starrer A Man Called Otto finished No. 5 with $9 million in revenue to push its worldwide tally past $55.3 million.

Finally, Lionsgate’s thriller Plane, starring Gerard Butler as a commercial pilot who, after an emergency landing on a remote island, finds himself and passengers in the crosshairs of warring island rebels, sold more than $5 million worth of tickets to push its global 10-day total near $20 million.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Leads Global Box Office With $435 Million Tidal Wave — Driven by 3D

Director James Cameron’s Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios), generated an estimated $435 million in global box office revenue, including almost $135 million across North American screens, for the weekend ended Dec. 18.

The opening is the third-highest since the pandemic began, behind No. 2 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Disney/Marvel Studios) at $442 million, including $187.4 million in North America, and No. 1, Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home with $600 million worldwide, including $260.1 million domestically.

Avatar: The Way of Water ranks as the No. 5 North American box office opening in 2022, tied with Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Batman.

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The movie generated an estimated 66% of its revenue from worldwide 3D ticket sales, underscoring the fact moviegoers continue embrace the 3D format when presented with compelling content. The projection is based on data from Comscore.
 
China was the top-performing 3D market in the world, with an estimated 99% of all moviegoers in the Middle Kingdom purchasing 3D tickets. In North America, an estimated 58% of moviegoers purchased 3D tickets and internationally, 66% of this week’s audience experienced the film in 3D.
 
“Just as the original Avatar did, Avatar: The Way of Water has set a new benchmark for the current 3D marketplace,” Travis Reid, CEO for 3D company RealD, said in a statement. “We expect to continue to see strong 3D results worldwide thru the holiday and new year.”
 
Avatar’s opening largely sucked the air out of the remaining theatrical market as Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever added $5.3 million in ticket sales to up its North American tally past $418 million after six weekends. Universal Pictures’ holiday drama, Violent Night, saw another $5 million in revenue to up its tally near $35 million after three weeks.
 
Disney continues to dominate the box office as the animated musical Strange World and Searchlight Pictures’ black comedy The Menu rounded out the top five with $2.2 million and $1.7 million in revenue , respectively.
 

This Week’s MPN Podcast: Movies Exclusive to Vudu and Other Digital Purchase Sites ; NYT ‘Best’ Movies of 2022?; More on Cameron and ‘Avatar’

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley lead with a list of Golden Globe-nominated movies newly released to Vudu for digital rent or download, exclusive to that service. This leads to a discussion around the merits of digital ownership in general and whether it’s ultimately worth more than owning physical releases. It contrasts nicely with how the episode wraps with several newly announced extravagant DVD/Blu-ray Disc boxed sets just in time for Christmas.

In between these segments, the hosts check in on James Cameron again. This is the last episode before Avatar 2 hits the big screen, and Cameron is featured in yet another interview hyping up his expected box office blockbuster. The latest: he received zero studio notes for his script for Avatar 4, and yes, he wrote the script for Avatars 2-4 before even starting to film The Way of Water. While no studio notes historically portend a mediocre movie that studios will write off, if any other director was going to break that mold, it would be Cameron.

The other major segment of the episode is a breakdown of a recent list of movies released by the New York Times that Charles and Charlie roast, as said list consists almost entirely of extremely niche movies that nobody seems to have heard of. Given that the hosts lead a movie-themed podcast, they both find it strange that these movies flew so under the radar and yet made it to such a year-end list.