“Avatar” Blu-ray 3D details

“Avatar” Blu-ray 3D details

Even though a Blu-ray 3D version of “Avatar” is already available with the purchase of Panasonic 3D products in Europe and is expected to be introduced the same way in the U.S. on Dec. 1, that version does not offer any of the 16-minutes of added scenes or hours of bonus features being introduced in the three-disc “AvatarExtended Collector’s Edition” hitting stores Tuesday (Nov. 16).

All 16-minutes of new scenes will be presented in 3D along with some behind-the-scenes and bonus footage shot in 3D on a future Blu-ray 3D for general retail release, but only when the market grows big enough to justify it, “Avatar” producer Jon Landau told HollywoodInHiDef.com in a phone interview today (Nov. 10). Panasonic is believed to have paid for an unusually long 1-year exclusive window for the “Avatar” theatrical version on Blu-ray 3D.

“We were ahead of the curve on DVD with ‘Titanic’ and we don’t want to make that mistake again (with Blu-ray 3D),” Landau said. Although “Titanic” went on to become a big-selling DVD, Landau said initial sales were disappointing because there were only 500,000 homes with DVD players upon its initial release on disc.

Steven Spielberg withheld his films from release on DVD by Universal for several years in the mid-1990s until the market had time to develop, though he gave permission for Sony to release his “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” on Blu-ray very early in that format’s development in November 2007 as Blu-ray was battling for survival with the competing HD DVD format. Some industry execs say big filmmakers sometimes like to wait until there are at least 1 million homes with a new format before introducing their films for sale.

The situation creates a chicken-or-egg scenario as major films by big-time filmmakers are needed to drive adoption of a new format to the level they require before releasing their films.

Landau told HollywoodInHiDef.com that making the 3D version of the movie available on Blu-ray in a limited way initially, exclusively with 3D Blu-ray players and 3DTVs, is a “great way to start up a home consumer base (for Blu-ray 3D).”

He reiterated what he and Cameron said last week about the 3D quality on Blu-ray: “We’re thrilled with the 3D,” adding that they worked very closely with Panasonic Hollywood Labs, which listened to many comments and input and made all the appropriate adjustments.

As for the newest version of the movie coming Tuesday for 2D Blu-ray, Landau said that even with three versions of the movie on a single Blu-ray Disc, including two extended editions of the movie with up to 16-minutes of additional footage and an alternate family-friendly dialogue track, no quality level was sacrificed.

In justifying the rationale not to include a single extra element on the initial release of “Avatar” on Blu-ray in April — not so much as a trailer — Landau and Cameron said last March that they wanted to use every bit of available space on the disc to ensure the best possible quality.

Landau said today that they have been able to learn how to manipulate the bit rate, reducing it for scenes where it’s not as important to carve out room for the additional elements. Like most discs in recent years, particularly from Fox, the extended versions simply seamlessly connect the added footage into the underlying theatrical cut of the film at the appropriate moments so the total additional time needed was the 16-minutes of added scenes in the longest cut of the movie exclusive to this Blu-ray edition, he said.

Additionally, Landau and Cameron told an audience at the Blu-Con conference in Beverly Hills last week that the bonus features, including more than an hour of previously deleted scenes, were not finished in time for the April release.

Landau also noted that producers are making use of the BD Live technology on Blu-ray, not only for the upcoming release but also for those who bought the first Blu-ray version in April. While awaiting November 16 to roll around, users can connect their “Avatar” Blu-ray Disc to the Internet and get a sneak peek at some of the behind-the-scenes bonus features on the new disc and even some extras not included on the new disc, he said, such as a mockumentary. His team will continue to post new updates accessible via  BD Live for users to access via the new Blu-ray edition of “Avatar.”

— By Scott Hettrick

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  1. BAH, market growing big enough to justify 3D. I have a Samsung 3Dtv, and I very much enjoy it for it’s 2D properties as well. I also very much enjoyed watching Avatar in 3D in the theater. But NOT enough to go buy a Panasonic 3DTV just to get a 3D version, and NOT enough to buy the Extended 2D version and then later an Extended 3D version if they see fit to offer it. I’ve always resisted the wild emotional claims about “double dipping” as with a little research and patience this is a non-issue. But what the hell am I supposed to do here? Break down and get the cool looking Extended? Wait for an unknown amount of time hoping that others buy Panasonic televisions thus justifying Fox finally letting me have a 3D extended version?

    Boo this man, BOO!

  2. I am fortunate that I am updating my home theater, which included the purchase of a Panasonic 3D 65″ TV. It is supposed to be delivered tomorrow, so, Panasonic, should I hold off delivery to confirm eligibility for the 3D version of Avatar?

    So that brings us to the chicken or the egg analogy…, how many people will I be showing off the new 3D technology using Avatar? ‘Show and tell’ is arguably the best marketing opportunity available to influence market interest in 3D TV. It seems that Panasonic understands this marketing value through this exclusive offer. I suppose it boils down to the priority of influencing the market versus realizing a significant ‘initial’ sales volume and missing the long term financial value of shaping the market.

    I wonder how many Titanic DVDs were sold over time, expecting that sales eventually hit the numbers (or are people still watching Titanic on VHS). A classic transcends traditional marketing concepts and Avatar has achieved that status. So let’s focus on getting 3D content in the hands of those who are early adopters, like me. Heck, limit the production run of Avatar 3D Extended. Seemed to work for Disney….

  3. Disappointed its exclusive to Panasonic, been put off by the 50hz motion and 2d issues with the VT20 set, which means im looking at a Samsung. This sort of greed is going to kill off 3d, as everyone else excluded from this offer is going to download it/ buy a pirate copy, which has been out for several weeks!