'Avatar' DVD, Blu-ray release date set

6:56 AM PST 03/16/2010 by Alex Ben Block, AP

3D version expected to be released next year

The home video release of "Avatar" will befit the highest-grossing movie of all time.

Fox Home Entertainment will roll out the home video in three phases, beginning with the release of the movie -- alone, with no extras -- in 2D on DVD and Blu-ray on Earth Day, April 22. A four-disc 2D release with numerous extras follows in November, and a 3D version on Blu-ray arrives next year.

With Earth Day, "Avatar" can be tied to a major marketing initiative that will underscore the environmental themes in the movie. Director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau will appear at a media event in Los Angeles this month to kick off the marketing effort. The release also comes on a Thursday, not the traditional Tuesday home video release.

The movie heads to every major country between April 21 (starting with France) and May 6 (finishing with Italy). It also will be available in China, Russia and Brazil, all of which have major piracy problems, on the same day as it is put out in North America.

The decision to release the movie without any trailers, commercials or extras on April 22 is unusual. It is being done, according to a Fox spokesman, to give Cameron and his team the greatest possibly "bit" capacity to present "Avatar" with enhanced video and audio.

The decision to hold off on the 3D version was made in part to allow for growth in the installed base of 3D TV sets, with a new generation just coming to market.

"Avatar" could challenge "The Dark Knight's" record of 3 million videos sold (including 600,000 on Blu-ray) on its first day.

"Avatar" opened Dec. 18 in theaters and has grossed more than $2.6 billion worldwide. It continues to play around the world, although it lost many of its 3D screens on March 5 when Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" opened. Fox also is considering a late-summer 3D rerelease in theaters.

Carl DiOrio in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
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