His kids, like a lot of people since Avatar was first released in 2009, saw the film on streaming or on Blu-ray, instead of on a big screen. When they watched it in a theater with their father, they understood its grandeur a bit more, which Cameron said he hopes will be the case for everyone who sees it during its rerelease on Sept. 23.
“Young film fans never had the opportunity to see it in a movie theater,” Cameron said in an interview with The New York Times. “Even though they think they may have seen the film, they really haven’t seen it. And I was pleasantly surprised, not only at how well it holds up but how gorgeous it is in its remastered state.”
Despite looking forward to Avatar‘s rerelease, Cameron acknowledges that moviegoing is different today than it was when the record-breaking film originally came out, with many people relying on streaming and home access for their content.
“We’ve got a turn of the world toward easy access in the home, and that has to do a lot with the rise of streaming in general, and the pandemic, where we literally had to risk our lives to go to the movie theater,” he told the publication.
On the bright side, however, the filmmaker pointed out the “resurgence of the theater experience,” despite it still being down about 20 percent from prepandemic levels.
“People are craving that,” Cameron said. “It’s slowly building back. Partly it’s been because of a dearth of top titles that people would want to see in a theater. But Avatar is the poster child for that. This is the type of film that you have to see in a theater.”
Avatar follows Sam Worthington’s Sully as he falls in love with Zoe Saldaña’s Neytiri and their joint efforts to save Pandora. Over the course of the highest-grossing film of all time, there is a prominent message about taking care of the environment and the resources it provides — a message that filmmakers to this day are still trying to get across with projects like Don’t Look Up.
While Cameron knows people have to change their lifestyles in order to continue to conserve the environment, he explains he doesn’t feel guilty that his “movie didn’t save the world.”
“I certainly wasn’t the only voice back then, and I’m certainly not the only voice now, telling people that they have to change,” he said. “Asking people to fundamentally change their behavior patterns, it’s like asking them to change their religion.”
People don’t want to change, the Oscar winner continues, despite things like the heat waves in China, North America and Europe, as well as the flooding in Pakistan, all of which are a result of people not doing their part in taking care of the environment.
“Eventually, we will change or we’ll die out. Avatar is not trying to tell you what to do specifically,” Cameron said. “It’s just reminding us of what we’re losing. And it puts us back in touch with that childlike state of wonder about the natural world. As long as that beauty still resonates within us, there’s hope.”