Avatar Running Time Is Over Two And A Half Hours

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.

Brendon's Report begins:

According to the threadmeisters at Film Crew T-Shirts, the running time of James Cameron's Avatar is going to be... drum roll please... 189 minutes. How would they know? Well, I assume they've fostered some strong relationships with members of, quite obviously, film crews, and furthermore that one of these folks is a crew member on Avatar. Far from impossible.

Everything I know about Avatar suggests a 189 minute run time will still require a brisk pace and some tight editing to get all of the different narrative threads spun out neatly. Titanic ran over 5 minutes longer and, relatively speaking, that was a straightforward story that took far less exposition just to get the premise clear in people's minds.

Interestingly, James Cameron has had a few bouts of crew friction that flared up into Blade Runner style T-shirt wars. On Terminator 2, the crew made shirts that said ""You Can't Scare Me – I Work For Jim Cameron."

More recently, Sam Worthington raffled off an Avatar t-shirt that gave us the first definite look at artwork from within the production. It showed a silhouette of a Na'vi character and contained the film's logotype, which we've now seen in all subsequent promotions.

I don't think Cameron would be the kind of guy to buckle and let anything other than his director's cut, no matter how long it is, be the theatrical release. I can't imagine he'll be accepting a run time ceiling on his final cut contract. Sure, Aliens was released in a cut down version, and I'm still not entirely clear on whether the longer Terminator 2 was Cameron's preferred version or not, but those were both released before he was made King of the World.

Many of the recent posts on the Film Crew T-Shirts Twitter feed have been about Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey, on the set of which they witnessed some car stunts, and GI Joe, about which they revealed nothing, gagged by an NDA. While they retain their anonymity they stand a very good chance of digging up some really good scoopage.