Presented theatrically in IMAX format, the trailer forAvatar 2: The Waterway was eventually released in 2:39 format. explanation.
It doesn’t take much to be happy, and the editors of Ecran Large saw this when they discovered the first trailer forAvatar 2: The Waterway prior to the press screening of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness† Between beautiful 3D and spacious staging, the return to Pandora amazed us.
And here’s the drama! After an exclusive theatrical broadcast, 20th Century Fox unveiled the trailer on the Net this Monday, May 9th, tainted by the good big black bands typical of the 2:39 format (aka Cinemascope). Gold, the first images ofAvatar 2 were shown theatrically in 1:90 format (a more vertical format often used in television, but mainly associated with IMAX in the case of cinema).
The problem is that for some (starting with the author of these lines) this revelation acted like a cold shower. A priori, the official release of the trailer ofAvatar 2 at 2:39 the latter makes the official format of the film, while the 1:90 version, which contains 26% more image, is to be reserved for IMAX cinemas.
Of course, this case is far from new, because from Christopher Nolan’s films to the latest installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sequences shot with IMAX cameras often lead to image format changeswhich are not necessarily visible when you discover the work in a standard room.
But where movies like Transformers: The Last Knight presuming to play with this fluctuating relationship to format, other feature films standardize their editing. This can still make sense in cases where a few scenes are involved, but movies like Avengers: Infinity War or Endgame were shot in full at 1:90, before being trimmed at 2:39 in non-IMAX theaters.
Above the 1:90 version and below the 2:39 version
Therefore, one has to wonder what the original format of the feature film is, especially now that Disney+ has finally given access to expanded versions of its Marvel episodes. And it is clear that the 1:90 offers a much lighter staging, moreover in reference to the often pachyderm realization of the Russo brothers, and their size plans on characters surrounded by empty sets. At least in 1:90 the tops of the heads are not cut off by the frame limits.
In other words, the 2:39 continues to establish itself as an unchanging element of the great spectacle film, while it was originally seen as a Hollywood response to the success of television in the 1950s. You might imagine that in the same logic the IMAX plays this role today, but the horizontality of the image in Scope always takes precedence over the rest , so that certain films give the unpleasant impression of punishing the spectators who did not want to pay more for their cinema ticket to discover the IMAX version.
We lose depth without a good part of the branch
As regardsAvatar 2, hard not to complain about the loss of scale of the official trailer. Admittedly, Cameron still works just as well on his relationship with the horizon line, but his management of Pandora’s topography is mostly based on its verticality. Whether it’s the sky or the seabed that this second film promises to explore, the 1:90 frames mark much stronger a large scale ratioespecially on this shot where the Na’vis drive their sea creatures in an arc to a strange mountain.
On the 2:39 version, the black bands cut off the edge of the apex, hiding the water surface that runs past the lens. However, all these elements must be linked together, because Cameron’s staging has as a priority the improvement of the ecosystem of his universe, in order to better implement the bodies of his characters, and therefore their point of view.
It still stings a little…
As it is, the trailer in 2:39 ofAvatar 2 seems cramped in this format, even though it remains naturally exotic and beautiful. The Cinemascope format isn’t bad per se, but a movie has to be designed specifically for it and its needs (the batter be a perfect recent example). This choice seems all the more strange that Cameron had chosen exactly the 1:85 for the first shutter…or at least partially.
indeed, if Avatar is only available on video at 1:85, the film was released in theaters at 2:39, but only for 2D screenings. James Cameron always favored the horizontality of Cinemascope, but also admitted that the verticality of 1:85 provides a better approximation of 3D and its depth. Thus, this manipulation of formats is not only due to the IMAX of The way of the waterbut one can still wonder about the merits of this approach and about the ease of reading the feature film for the spectators.
The 3D sessions ofAvatar 2 are they offered in 1:90 or 2:39 in standard cinemas? Although Cameron claims to offer his film with many different tools (including HFR), which format will be chosen to accompany them? In any case, we hope that the thrill of sublime Pandora vistas will not be too tainted by this questionable strategy.