This Earth Day, Avatar Comes to DVD, Without Special Features but With Disposable Packaging

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Among Avatar's many messages (something about American Indians? Vietnam? Fern Gully?), an environmentalist overtone proved most important to the movie's plot and thrust. Fox will be releasing its first of three separate DVD and Blu-ray releases on Earth Day, as a tie-in. It's true, the theme here is green--just not the green you're thinking of.

As one of the most successful movies of all time and certainly the biggest money-maker of the year for Fox, the studio won't miss a chance to inject a little greenwashing into Avatar's first DVD release--except, of course, it'll be physical media only, which means they'll be producing spaceship-loads of plastic for the packaging and discs. Even worse, to wrangle the most cash out of its biggest cash cow, Fox isn't stopping at one, but opting for a whopping three separate Avatar releases. The first is, not surprisingly, the worst: either DVD or Blu-ray (no digital downloads, which are relatively green), with absolutely no special features (what?), and in 2-D only.

Tons of consumers will buy this edition on Earth Day, April 22, only to have it become trash in a few months as Fox releases the actually desirable versions of Avatar months later. This first release will be just the movie on a disc: no deleted scenes, interviews, commentary tracks, extended cuts, behind the scenes clips, or any other special features. Fox claims this is to present the best picture and sound possible without compression, but they could just as easily have created a double-sided DVD or dual-layer Blu-ray--on the other hand, who would buy the "ultimate edition" if they did that?

The "ultimate edition" of Avatar will be released sometime in November, with the special features that should have come in the initial release, but even that will still be in 2-D. The 3-D versions won't come out until 2011, when Fox expects more consumers to have adequate 3-D televisions, and it's unclear when, if ever, a digital version will be released.

This staggered release is almost obscene in its crass shrewdness. How is it even remotely acceptable to release a film without any special features, without the one technological feature (3-D) that made the film unique in the first place? And on Earth Day, claiming a thematic link between the film and environmentalism, only to sell a product which in a matter of months will be obsolete and disposable, achieves a remarkable feat by managing to demean a holiday created in 1970 to teach elementary school students about the dangers of littering.

Avatar's first release will come this April 22. Verdict: avoid. It's bad for the environment and your wallet.

[EOnline via Goldenfiddlr]

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7 Comments

  • Jeff Eyink

    Maybe we need to rethink the distribution method for this media. Instead of releasing multiple volumes of the same movie, with a slow trickle of additional materials and editions, what if two versions are sold? A basic version will contain only the movie. A premium version will grant access to downloadable content. The premium version is obviously priced higher to reflect the benefit of more content. It can also be updated with new content indefinitely.

    Taking it another step further, what if buying the basic version grants access to additional features via the web priced by tiers or completely ala cart? You have to buy the movie to get access to the features. From there, it’s up to the consumer to decide what they’ll consume. Imagine how much waste is eliminated!

    This may not even been detrimental to the production companies. I’d be interested to see the sales comparison of basic editions to content added additions. Maybe there are a greater number of people willing to buy a basic edition and buy a few items ala cart than those wanting to buy an entire new edition. The marginal revenue per customer may actually increase (purely speculative, of course).

  • DJ Kunkel

    I for one prefer discs to be free of menus, extra features, etc. In fact I usually re-burn my movie discs so they just play when you insert them. So this is exciting for me. The fact the studio recognizes adding features and extra content results a compromise of picture quality for the feature is refreshing!

  • Tyler Adams

    @Jym, Scottish rebellion meets communist society? :)

    This is absolutely absurd. I have no problem with Fox releasing a ridiculous 3 versions of Avatar. It's a smart move, and will make them more money. I get it. Whatever. However, to do so under the guise of sustainability is just irritating.

  • Jym Allyn

    What! Fox has a crass commercial attitude towards "Avatar?"

    Avatar is a beautiful revision of "Braveheart meets the Smurfs" and is intended for sensory overload rather than mental stimulation.

    Isn't Fox the same company that sold us on WMD's and going to war against Saddam and the existence of "Death Panels?"

    Why do you expect anything less than "crass?"

  • Jym Allyn

    What! Fox has a crass commercial attitude towards "Avatar?"

    Avatar is a beautiful revision of "Braveheart meets the Smurfs" and is intended for sensory overload rather than mental stimulation.

    Isn't Fox the same company that sold us on WMD's and going to war against Saddam and the existence of "Death Panels?"

    Why do you expect anything less than "crass?"

  • Nicholas Korn

    Don't need 3D. Don't watch the unnecessary extras on DVDs.
    2D is fine and April 22nd sounds great. Stop whining.

  • Jym Allyn

    What! Fox has a crass commercial attitude towards "Avatar?"

    Avatar is a beautiful revision of "Braveheart meets the Smurfs" and is intended for sensory overload rather than mental stimulation.

    Isn't Fox the same company that sold us on WMD's and going to war against Saddam and the existence of "Death Panels?"

    Why do you expect anything less than "crass?"