20th Century Fox gave a Cine Expo audience a preview of footage from James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar last night. It was the first public screening of footage from the eagerly anticipated 3D picture.

Scenes from the film were shown to a packed auditorium on the third day of the cinema conference in Amsterdam. The crowd got to watch over 20 minutes of footage, which was shown using the RealD 3D system.

Members of the cast were present to introduce their characters before the sequence, including Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and Terminator Salvation’s Sam Worthington, who plays the lead, Jake Sully.

After the lights went up, James Cameron, who was wearing a pair of 3D glasses, walked onstage to considerable applause and proclaimed, “The future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear shades!”

The release of the film (December 18) has long been touted as the possible turning point for 3D cinema, whereby it becomes mainstream.