How to Nail a Teaser — Avatar: The Way of Water
It has been nearly thirteen years since Avatar was released in 2009, but James Cameron’s epic sci-fi adventure remains the highest grossing movie of all time.
This accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider what films have come out since then: five new Star Wars movies, three new Jurassic Park movies, eleven new DC comics movies, and twenty-seven Marvel Cinematic Universe properties. Even Avengers: Endgame — built upon the backs of dozens of iconic characters and an infamous cliffhanger — couldn’t surpass Avatar’s total 2.8 billion dollar theatrical release.
James Cameron’s sci-fi epic reigns supreme. It was more than a hit movie. It was a cultural phenomenon that took hold of the world’s attention and didn’t let go.
Then, it disappeared. The 2010s were a decade full of franchises, spinoffs, and remakes, but the most popular movie in history didn’t take part. James Cameron created a world that moviegoers fell in love with, and then that world dropped off the map.
That is, until now.
Avatar: The Way of Water is finally here, and slated to be released this December. Even thirteen years on, the buzz is real for Pandora and the Na’vi. The new film’s teaser trailer was greeted with more than 23 million views, and fan theories already abound.
Here at Quilt, we decided to break down the new Avatar trailer to discover why the excitement remains so palpable more than a decade after the first film’s release, and what the film might have in store for audiences. Using our Ad Evaluator tool, we identified three brand values that the Avatar trailer promotes visually and analyzed the teaser frame by frame to calculate their relative weight. These are our results:
Much has been made of Avatar’s environmentalist themes over the years. The film draws a clear connection between nature and spirituality (though some consider that connection to be a bit problematic.) James Cameron has always been outspoken about combating climate change, and he has outwardly stated many times that Avatar was intended to motivate people to protect the environment.
From the looks of this new teaser trailer, it looks like The Way of Water will further the environmentalist message that its predecessor laid out. The majestic water vistas that populate the trailer convey the delicate beauty of the ocean, and show that nature will remain a prominent motif in the upcoming film.
Sometimes, the connection between man and nature is suggested even more explicitly by the trailer’s visuals:
If there is one thing that you can always expect from a James Cameron movie, it is an enormous scale. This is a guy who took a submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. He doesn’t do small or subtle. He directed Titanic, The Terminator, and Aliens. His films are technical achievements in addition to captivating entertainment, and Avatar: The Way of Water looks to be no different.
Our Ad Evaluator found that the trailer’s visuals were enormously epic. Nearly every other shot in this trailer conveys a scale of unbelievable magnitude and an impressive, awe-inspiring technical mastery.
The Way of Water won’t just be a montage of marvelous imagined landscapes, though. The teaser also promises some grand action set pieces, many of which contributed to the trailer’s high “Epic” score.
Every movie is about people — their struggles, their triumphs, and their relationships. Avatar is no different. Even if its people are blue-skinned aliens from a fictional planet, they are still people.
James Cameron recognizes this. So it comes as no surprise that the synopsis given on The Way of Water’s official website focuses in on the characters, not the planet:
“Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.”
Even though this new teaser trailer is mainly concerned with feasting our eyes on epic, awe-inspiring natural vistas and action set pieces, it also conveys that this is a movie about people connecting with each other spiritually and emotionally. It is about community, love, and above all else, family.
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