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  • Original theatrical cut
  • 2022 re-release / Disney+ / 4K Blu-ray
Release: Jun 25, 2023 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the original 2009 theatrical release (represented by the first edition Blu-ray) and the 2022 re-release theatrical version (represented by Disney+ and identical in content on the 4K Blu-ray).

- 2 differences
- Difference: 16.4 sec

James Cameron's Avatar was a mass phenomenon in 2009/10 and quickly topped the list of the most successful films of all time. In August 2010, a Special Edition (9 minutes longer) was released on the big screen and was followed in home theaters by an additional extended version based on this.

To get in the mood for the sequel Avatar: The Way of Water (which as of June 2023 is in third place on the list just mentioned), the first part was re-released in cinemas in summer 2022 remastered in 4K & HFR 3D. In early June 2023, this version then was made available first in the streaming offer on Disney+ and in late June to early July followed worldwide home theater releases on 4K Blu-ray and a remastered Blu-ray with this version. By the way, the longer versions of the film are no longer included with these new discs.

Additional scene hints at part 2 in the 4K remastered theatrical release

It wasn't communicated clearly at first, but even during the theatrical re-release, fans reported that a small change was made just before the end credits. Here, the character Parker Selfridge, portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi, briefly turns to Jake and Neytiri and says that it's "not over" This interrupts Jake's monologue, which has previously concluded the story in a roundabout way, and thus very clearly creates a link to the events in Part 2.

That the Resources Development Administration (RDA) will not simply give in and return to Pandora is already relatively clear here. The original theatrical version was, of course, more self-contained in that regard. In the end, however, this difference is of course rather marginal and it's not really necessary either way to hint at a continuation of the story in such a direct way. It's interesting, after all, that the final shot, where Parker is taken away in both versions, also features alternate Na'vi creatures and other details in the background. Were other scenes changed as well?


No further differences during effect scenes or digital retouching

Anyone who is familiar with Cameron's filmography and the various home cinema releases will be familiar with precisely such digitally induced differences in the image and may immediately suspect this here as well. Whether it's Aliens, Titanic or Terminator 2, the legendary director has definitely taken a liking to using digital technology to iron out goofs, for example. But we can give the "all-clear" in this area, because we couldn't find any other differences like that.

Either way, the similar sitation like on titles such as Star Wars: Episode 1 in 4K or the revised Special Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was interesting. Avatar, too, was still finished in 1080p or "only" Full HD in 2009 and at least the live action footage was obviously shot with corresponding digital cameras. Here, too, it was clear that, at least apart from the (numerous) digital effects, most of the material in 4K could only be upscaled.

It was speculated accordingly whether, as with Star Trek in particular, at least the digital effects would be completely rebuilt and newly rendered. In fact, however, "only" the TrueCut Motion technology was seemingly used for this technical issue. Probably this is the main reason why various effects look a little different in detailled/zoomed screenshot comparisons. However, to all appearances, they were not reworked at all, as was the case with Star Trek in particular.

Questionable results from AI tools in the live action scenes.

Although the additional scene and actual changes within the movie are clearly our main interest, we do not want to leave a technical/qualitative aspect uncommented on, which results quasi directly from the procedure described in the last section. Probably independent of TrueCut Motion, an AI tool, which was probably additionally used, caused considerable damage: In quite a few live action scenes, nasty halo effects, double contours and downright creepy distorted elements become noticeable in the image.

While the AI often conjured up quite respectable images, at least in the (almost completely digitally created) scenes on Pandora, a screenshot comparison of a scene with Col. Quaritch and the soldieres (timecode: 126:02) in particular was discussed among several forums. Those who are a bit more acquainted with the results of artificial intelligence (see also: M3GAN) will have noticed, especially with regard to the image/video editing tools, that the algorithms sometimes still produce quite strange images, especially with regard to people and corresponding anatomical details.

Over 2023, this has improved significantly, but the processing of Avatar has already been in the works for a while earlier than that. Exactly this quite classic AI issue is seemingly noticeable in this scene. It's actually a prime example, because various faces in the background are suspiciously reminiscent of the absurdly defaced painting of Elias Garcia Martinez.

Of course, one may still come to a more positive overall impression when looking at the whole film (and generally in motion instead of focussing on single frames). The masses will probably hardly notice these technical flaws anyway, because the film may seem nicely colorful and apparently sharp as well as vivid. However, many fans will surely be stunned to wonder, much like George Lucas of course, why the director of several of the most influential films of all time would apparently want to preserve his own works in this subpar form for posterity. So the relatively small difference in the final scene, which is actually the subject of this report, remains more or less just a side note. For detailed explanations of why this is all a big mess, along with dedicated screenshot comparisons, the (German) review on is recommended. Caps-a-holic has a comparison as well.

Finally, we would like to briefly draw a comparison to Cameron's Terminator 2, whose extremely soft picture quality has always been massively criticized since the 3D/4K processing of both the corresponding Blu-ray and the 4K counterpart. What still works well in 3D, so to speak, exhibits an incongruous watercolor look in 2D that deviates greatly from the original image. Another example there, of course, is the infamous Ultimate Hunter Edition of Predator, which has a terrible waxy image, while the parallel 3D version works just fine. Here, one can argue that the Na'vi fantasy world per se should naturally have a very different look than these films. Still, the current state (4K-remastered) remains an odd deviation from the original version. And in these two examples, it's predominantly "just" the soft focus, while Avatar has quite a few more problems on top of that.

Update: Since December 19, 2023, a 4K Collector's Edition including both extended versions has been available. In these two versions as well, you now only see the alternative ending.

152:49 / 152:49-152:58

After Parker looks up at Jake and Neytiri, there is another shot of Neytiri aggressively taking a step in his direction. Jake holds her back with two words in Na'vi language.
Parker then comments: "You know this isn't over."

9.6 sec

152:53-153:05 / 153:02-153:21

After a frontal shot of Jake and Neytiri is there in both versions, the 2022 re-release shows Parker again, first looking up at the two and then walking away.

The old theatrical version also shows Parker walking away here, though this doesn't set in until you only see him from behind. At first glance, this rest of the shot looks identical in both versions, but that's not true: there are different/fewer Na'vi in the background and generally the framing and other details differ. The live-action part of the scene (i.e. the people actually walking along) has remained the same, but obviously everything around it has been digitally rebuilt.

Re-Release 6.8 sec longer

Original theatrical releaseRe-release version

After the identical credits, the people responsible for this remastering are still named.