Special-effects wonder 'Avatar' shows previews

Eager moviegoers are getting their first look Friday at extended scenes from James Cameron’s much-anticipated 3-D science fiction epic “Avatar.”

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    Australian actor Sam Worthington is shown in a scene in James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi adventure "Avatar."
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Eager moviegoers are getting their first look Friday at extended scenes from James Cameron’s much-anticipated 3-D science fiction epic “Avatar.”

Screenings of about 16 minutes of the film were being held worldwide Friday to fans who scored free tickets online. “Avatar” was to be shown on 102 U.S. screens and 342 screens internationally, across 58 countries in total.

Reactions to the mammoth marketing blitz were rolling in Friday on the Web.

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Many were struck by its visual splendor, including Hong Kong moviegoer Jason Poon, who tweeted that it was “probably the best CG and 3-D I’ve ever seen.” James Hilder in London said it was “mega impressive.”
Not all the early reactions were laudatory.

In Tel Aviv, Shay Ringel tweeted after a screening: “What was THAT?! ... Everyone walked out (scratching) their heads saying, `Why are we here?”’

Analyzing the trailer, several movie blogs — including Movieline.com and Spout blog — noted the film’s similar appearance to the 2008 animated flop “Delgo” and other science fiction movies.

The screenings were an effort by Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox to build buzz for the film, Cameron’s first since 1997’s “Titanic,” which holds the box-office record, grossing $1.84 billion worldwide.

Studios usually closely guard footage of movies before their release, only occasionally offering glimpses to the public at special events.

“Avatar,” which tells the story of humans who embody avatars to explore the spectacular, but otherwise unsafe, planet of Pandora, will be released in its entirety Dec. 18.

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