Editor’s (Peter Sciretta) Note: Brendon filed this report yesterday, but I wasn’t initially willing to run it based on an unconfirmed source on a Twitter account. But since that time, /Film’s Russ Fischer was able to follow-up with Avatar producer John Landau, who made an appearance at the Ubisoft booth during the E3 video game convention. Fischer asked about Avatar’s running time, and Landau confirmed that it is “definitely over two and a half hours.”
The reason why I had my doubts is that the film is being released theatrically in 2D, Digital 3D and IMAX 3D, but the latter format does not allow for three-hour films. I contacted IMAX, and they confirmed that the longest a non-digital 3D presentation could run is 160 minutes, and that is with two separate film reels, one for each eye. I asked IMAX if they would be forced to cut down Avatar if the finished film ran 3 hours in length, and they said they’d get back to me — which of course, they never did. When IMAX first began screening theatrical upconversions, the maxium running time was shorter, and I do recall one of the Harry Potter films being shortened a few minutes of the IMAX presentation. So it is possible that the same thing might have to be done for Avatar.
You can read Brendon’s original report, which claims a finished running time of 189 minutes (or three hours and nind minutes) after the jump.