UPDATED: ‘Avatar’ Extended Edition Ready to Hit Theaters in August

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UPDATE: I have added four new paragraphs to the bottom of this article with updates to the questions I sent Fox regarding this re-release.

We already knew this was coming, but now 20th Century Fox has announced a date and August 27 will mark the return of James Cameron’s Avatar to Digital 3D and IMAX 3D theaters and it comes with more than eight minutes of new footage included.

The return has been dubbed Avatar: Special Edition, which is basically to say this is the version consumers will be able to buy in the special edition DVD and Blu-ray release later this year. When it was made known this version would be returning to theaters in August it was expected to be an additional six minutes, but obviously that has now grown to beyond eight minutes.

Commenting on the new release James Cameron was quoted in the press release saying, “Audiences repeatedly told me they wanted more of Pandora, and wished they could have stayed there longer. So we’re making that possible. Avatar: Special Edition will be exclusively in 3D, and will have eight minutes of never before seen footage, including new creatures and action scenes. Whether you already love the movie, or you’ve never seen it, with this Special Edition, you’ll be seeing it like never before.”

The release is referred to as a “limited engagement” but there is no telling just how limited this will be. Back in April we were told to expect the “Ultimate Edition” of Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray, with the additional footage, in November. However, calling this edition “ultimate” may not be entirely correct as last February a “Wall Street Journal” article discussing the film said, “A spokesman for Fox Home Entertainment said on Thursday night that the ‘3D is in the conceptual stage and Avatar will not be out on 3D Blu-ray in November.’” 3D televisions and Blu-ray releases are on the market right now, but I still expect you’ll be waiting until 2011 if you want to watch Avatar in 3D at home.

As far as 3D theaters go during the August timeframe Despicable Me (7/9) and Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore (7/30) will be the only possible July carryovers and August has Step Up 3D (8/6) and Piranha 3D (8/27) with Resident Evil: Afterlife (9/10) being the first 3D release of September.

UPDATES: Chris Petrikin, Fox Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, got back to me with some answers to my questions. As for how long the re-release will be in theaters he says he’s not sure, “it could be longer in some territories than others, and IMAX has specific windows for films… [it] could play just a couple weeks to whenever.”

The number of theaters is also currently up in the air, which I expected, but he says it “should be few hundred in US and obviously many more internationally.” International release dates can be found here.

As for whether or not this new release will bring additional dollars to the original box-office totals, Petrikin told me “the grosses do get added to existing grosses.” As of right now Avatar is the #1 film of all-time in both domestic and worldwide charts with over $749 million domestically and nearly $2 billion from foreign markets. How high will it go?

In terms of the November DVD and Blu-ray release he gave me the following quote from the Fox Home Entertainment division: “As previously announced, James Cameron, Jon Landau and team are working on a collector’s edition Blu-ray and DVD for November (2D). There are no new updates beyond that at this point.”