By Matthew Moorcroft
I can’t stop watching the trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water.
This tends to happen sometimes when I hyper fixate on a particular upcoming release, but it usually happens closer to said release as I prep myself and my own ADHD goes into overtime trying to compensate for things. It’s only happened a handful of times with new releases this far out though, and it’s usually with Star Wars films or most recently Avengers: Endgame from 2019.
The last film I expected to happen with though was James Cameron’s long awaited teaser for his even more long awaited sequel to the second-highest grossing movie of all time, Avatar, and the subsequent 147 million people who watched it in the first 24 hours seemed to have the same thing happen to them. As much as they could deny it, the world of Pandora has called back to audiences and audiences have responded with a resounding “yes, please take us back”.
I’ve been wondering myself what’s so transfixing about the teaser, and why I keep coming back to it. On first glance it’s the incredible visuals and musical score, which are simply sublime, and on the big screen in front of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was one of my favourite theater experiences as of late, even if it wasn’t in 3D (my city doesn’t have 3D anymore). But those kinds of things don’t usually bring me to watch a trailer multiple times in a row and on the daily like this one seems to be.
Teasers in general, especially. The art of the teaser seems to be fading over time, as many teasers tend to be basically just shorter trailers in prep for the real trailer about two months later. Teaser trailer used to be one of the best way to drum up hype for your new film – I still remember in the days of old school Pixar where they had teasers for their next film attached to their current one and they sometimes over a year away. The last time I remember a studio doing this was in 2014 when Disney released a teaser for then year out The Force Awakens, and I still credit that trailer for reinvigorating the brand after years of stagnancy with general audiences.
Teasers are simply meant to be that – a tease of things to come, and Avatar: The Way of Water is the first teaser in a good while that genuinely feels like a tease rather then a full on showcase. We get a lot of great imagery and some interesting background stuff to get us thinking but it’s all a mood piece and audio-visual experience. It’s rare we see marketing like this anymore and I’m hoping it leads to more things like it in the future. A return to form for the teasers might get me excited for more movies in the same way as this one does.
Plus, it’s proof that Cameron has still got it. Despite Avatar mostly becoming a punchline in some circles over the years the trailer still shows that if anybody make a franchise out of this, it’s him. And while it’s hard to say whether or not it will beat the original the fact that’s even a question is a testament to how the tides are starting to shift. The haters are slowly shutting up, the “Avatar hive” has begun to rise so to speak.
We still have about seven months until release as well as a bunch of other great films until then (Top Gun: Maverick, Thor: Love and Thunder, Lightyear, Bullet Train, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, etc.) but I love how 90 seconds of footage can completely sell me on a movie as well as change my expectations for the rest of the year. Just incredible stuff incoming from Cameron, I can feel it in my bones. Getting chills just thinking about it, frankly.