During the Avatar panel at Comic-Con last month, it was revealed that a special 16-minute long preview of some footage from Avatar would be shown to the general public for FREE in select IMAX theaters. This is great news for avid movie fans out there who have been following all the Avatar news, who weren’t lucky enough to see the footage that was shown in Hall H in San Diego during the convention.

It’s also a bold marketing move on the part of James Cameron and Fox – one that could very well work out perfectly to get a lot of people excited about Avatar (those who weren’t already excited, that is). So when and how do you snag tickets to this special 16-minute 3D IMAX preview? Well, the LA Times has some specific details about what is being called “Avatar Day” and we have them here for you.

The free tickets will go on sale (or rather, become available) on the Avatar website (www.avatarmovie.com) on Monday, August 17th at Noon (PST) on a first-come, first-serve, basis. Basically, if you want a ticket (and why wouldn’t you?) you’ll have to have your mouse-clicking finger at the ready as soon the hour rolls around, as it’s sure to be a mad dash by (particularly sci-fi) movie fans to get themselves a seat for the Avatar preview. Currently there’s no details on which specific IMAX theaters the footage will be screened in, nor if there will be limitations on how any tickets each customer can get (I’m guessing two maximum).

Two preview screenings are scheduled at each theater, one at 6pm and one at 6:30pm, both on Friday, August 21st. The screening is set to have an accompanying introduction by Cameron himself (I’m assuming just on-screen and not actually in person) – no word on whether the extra minute on top of the previously reported 15 minutes includes the introduction, or whether it really is an extra minute of actual footage. It is said that some of the footage will differ from what was shown at Comic-Con.

As LA Times notes, even though special screenings for press and fans at events like Comic-Con are fairly run-of-the-mill, this type of extended preview (particularly in 3D IMAX), literally months before the official release of the film, is unprecedented. Avatar will be shown in over 225 IMAX theaters when it get released a week before Christmas this year. For this special preview, it will be shown in more than 100 IMAX theaters, approx. 70 of those being in the U.S. and about 30 overseas.

Fox is not going to be paying IMAX to show the preview in theaters, although they will pay the costs of producing and distribution, while IMAX will provide the 3D glasses.

Can't wait to see some "photorealistic" CGI? Be ready on August 17th!

Although I’m not surprised Avatar is starting to get pushed by the studios on the general public, it’s still quite surprising to see them do this sort of a preview. Most movies just have the general trailers, posters, TV spots and so forth, but they’re really going all out.

Speaking of marketing, the first trailer for Avatar (and the accompanying video game) are set to premiere on Avatar Day as well (that’s next Friday, August 21st), around the world. So us folks who didn’t see the Comic-Con footage and/or don’t get lucky enough to grab a ticket for the screenings, can finally get to see what Cameron’s first film in 12 years really looks like.

Will you be at the ready to snag yourself a ticket for the Avatar preview? Or will you just wait for the actual movie to get released?

Avatar opens in 3D IMAX and regular theaters on December 18th, 2009.

Source: LA Times