Does Stripped-Down Avatar DVD Hint at Summer 3-D Re-Release?
Fox announced early this morning that it planned to release Avatar on DVD in conjunction with Earth Day -- April 22 -- thus adding a little something special to the 40th commemoration of the event. Making the date even more unusual: It's a Thursday as opposed to the industry standard Tuesday. And why not? Honestly, if I were the studio and/or James Cameron, I wouldn't necessarily want my stoner-friendly, Earth Day-compatible sci-fi blockbuster hitting the street on 4/20 either. Much more significantly, of course, they need some hook on which to hang their their long term plans. But what exactly are they?
A Fox Video representative I spoke with this morning laughed off the connection between 4/20 -- also the universally recognized time of day for marijuana consumption -- and the sumptuous psychedelia of Pandora, but hey. Every little precaution counts when attempting to convert the biggest movie of all time to the biggest DVD/Blu-ray of all time. And then, perhaps, back to theaters this summer, a prospect whispered about for much of the last week-plus since the Oscars (and Alice in Wonderland's own 3-D windfall). And then back to DVD in the "ultimate editions" reported to arrive this November, just in time for the holidays.
Reps for the main studio didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on how a prospective theatrical re-release might coordinate with the DVD/Blu-Ray plans. We hear, however, that the new version to hit theaters this August would feature 10 minutes of restored footage. Not only would this push Avatar to IMAX analog's maximum 170-minute running time, but it would preclude the appearance of that footage or virtually any other deleted scenes (IMAX's own chairman said Cameron told him he had 40 extra minutes lying around) on the April DVD.
But isn't it fair for anyone being asked to spend $20-$30 for the DVD/Blu-ray next month to get a taste of something for that money? Some shots of Zoë Saldana getting into character, or the making of all those six-legged horses, or something? Avatar producer Jon Landau told the LAT that the first home-video release will in fact sacrifice that space for the sake of unprecedentedly high resolution for both media. The source I talked to at Fox Video also emphasized unique interconnectivity between the April and November releases via special links, both on the film's Web site and the expanded version itself.
All of which continues the discussion of just how much money Avatar can make in the long run, particularly considering how Fox will have been pushing and reinventing this thing a year and a half since its ComicCon '09 debut by the time the second DVD comes out. Expect a clue March 23, when Cameron and Landau will convene colleagues and press to lay out some of the initiatives they've planned for Earth Day. Then expect another in early-mid summer, I suppose -- maybe right around ComicCon -- where the brand gets rolled out again. And then again, and then again. Are you buying?