James Cameron plugging 3D TV sets

'Avatar' director inks deal with Panasonic on Friday

TOKYO -- "Titanic" director James Cameron has signed on with Panasonic to promote new 3D TVs.

The deal disclosed Friday comes as Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox are aiming to break new ground with the release of "Avatar," a movie shot entirely in 3D.

At the same time, Panasonic is making a big push to get consumers excited about three-dimensional viewing in the home -- excited enough to buy new flat-panel sets and new Blu-ray disc players. Consumers will have to wear special glasses to experience the 3D effect.

Panasonic is planning to start selling 3D TVs next year. Rivals, including Sony, which has its own movie division, and Samsung Electronics of South Korea have shown prototypes and may offer similar products. It's not clear how much 3D TVs would cost.

The manufacturers face a problem in that 3D content is scarce. There's also no agreement on a disc or broadcast format to bring the content to TV sets, though the industry group behind the Blu-ray disc may be close to finalizing a standard.

Several animation films are already being shown in theaters in 3D, along with a handful of live-action movies. "Avatar," set for release Dec. 18, will be the biggest major Hollywood film to debut worldwide in both 2D and 3D.

"I believe 3D is how we will experience movies, gaming and computing in the near future. 3D is not something you watch. It's a reality you feel you could step into," Cameron said on video.

Panasonic is hoping its collaboration with Cameron will give its brand an edge as a 3D leader, and give the company ideas for technological improvements for home TVs, GM Masayuki Kozuka said.

"We want to get global interest rolling," he told the Associated Press. "For people to want to watch 3D at home, the movie has to be a blockbuster."

Panasonic plans to have several trailer-vans driving around in the U.S. and Europe next month with large-screen 3D TVs inside showing "Avatar." In Japan, footage from "Avatar" -- a science-fiction romance set in a futuristic jungle inhabited by creatures evocative of Cameron's "Aliens" -- will appear in ads for 3D TVs. Cameron developed a new computer-controlled 3D camera system for the movie.