Cameron has big plans for 'Avatar' DVD set

Innovations in the works for November's four-disc release

While Fox Home Entertainment's release of "Avatar" on DVD and Blu-ray next month will be limited to a 2D version of the movie, director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau plan more innovative and extensive additions for the four-disc set in November.

Just as the movie was a technological wonder, Cameron said the boxed set will include innovations in the way it presents some of the material that was cut during editing -- not to mention the typical extras like making-of and behind-the-scenes pieces that show how the biggest blockbuster of all time was put together.

"You'll be going on a journey into a whole different version," Cameron said Tuesday during a media junket tied to the April 22 release.

Cameron said the Blu-ray set has allowed him to create a "branching experience" that will offer viewers the original version; one with six minutes of finished footage added; or a much longer version, with some of the new scenes not fully realized but understandable.

He compared the unfinished scenes to what Disney has done with animated films, where they show some material that had only gotten to the pencil sketch stage. "So that's really more of a fan's exploration of what the movie might have been or a lot of the ideas that fed into it," he said.

"And you're also going to be able to look at a scene and see the same scene with just the reference camera for the capture. Every scene may be what you saw in the final film, but it's just people in black leotards."

He said there will be picture-in-picture technology that will allow the viewer to see, among other things, actress Zoe Saldana on the stage and her character in the movie as realized through CGI and animation. "That's when you really get what the process is," Cameron said, "because you can talk about it for hours, or you can watch one scene in a picture-in-picture display and you will get it."

Those who buy the Blu-ray disc will get a code that will allow them to register online and gain exclusive access to bonus materials, special content and more.

Those who register also will be able to adopt one of a million trees being planted as part of the Earth Day promotion.

While the online bridge between the stripped-down April release and a boxed set for the holidays is innovative, Landau cautioned that it may not be quite as robust as the publicity suggests. "I think it's more of a tease to what is coming in the fall," he said.

Cameron said a 3D version of the DVD might follow next year, depending on how the market for those TV sets develops.

As for a sequel, Cameron and Landau said they have been too busy to focus on any of the ideas kicking around, but that should begin after the DVD launch in April. However, even with many of the digital assets already created, it will take a considerable amount of time to finish a sequel.

"The fastest we can imagine making another film is 3 to 3 1/2 years from the moment we start, and we're not planning on starting tomorrow," Cameron said.

"People will have forgotten about 'Avatar' by the time we get a sequel done. They go, 'Oh, 'Avatar.' That'll be cool.' It's not like 'Iron Man 2' coming out a year after 'Iron Man 1.' It ain't gonna work that way."
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