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James Cameron led cheerleading for the upcoming release of Avatar special-edition discs on Tuesday, and Panasonic confirmed a 3D version of the home-entertainment title will be offered first to buyers of its TVs and disc players.
Fox released a no-frills 2D version of the fantasy epic on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in April — with the latter setting a format sales record — and on Nov. 16, the studio will send out a 2D “collector’s edition” boasting the movie in three different lengths, plus 47 minutes of unused footage and 17 making-of featurettes. But a Blu-ray 3D version of Avatar won’t be released generally until sometime next year.
However, Panasonic has been granted an early, exclusive hold on the 3D version in the U.S. and Europe beginning soon. The deal — which Fox Home Entertainment has yet to address publicly — is similar to the exclu product-bundling arrangement Disney allowed Sony Electronics in the fall with 3D fantasy Alice in Wonderland.
For now, licensing pacts are “the only way studios can make any money from 3D,” said Scott Hettrick, editor of the 3DHollywood blog. “There’s just not enough installed 3D equipment yet.”
Producer Jon Landau, who joined Cameron for the Avatar tubthumping at the BluCon event at the Beverly Hilton — declined comment on the bundling deal and deflected a query about when a 3D version might hit store shelves.
“I don’t know,” Landau told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wish I did.”
In addition to detailing contents of the three-disc 2D “Avatar” set, Cameron used his appearance at the Digital Entertainment Group’s symposium to yet again trumpet the merits of 3D and the perils of 3D movie conversions.
“I haven’t seen anything yet, personally, that doesn’t benefit from 3D,” Cameron said. “Once we get to auto-stereoscopic — that’s watching 3D without glasses — it is going to be the way we watch all of our media. That’s probably 8 to 10 years away.”
As for producing content in 2D and converting it to 3D, Cameron said the costs of a quality conversion is high enough to warrant shooting in 3D from the start. “If you want to play a movie in 3D, make it in 3D,” he said with a shrug.
The tech-savvy filmmaker said 3D conversions are appropriate for “one thing and one thing only — catalog movies.”
Anybody undertaking such a project should be aware that 3D conversions take about six months to do properly, he added.
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