‘Avatar’ Release Sparks Home Video Sales, CE Promo Opportunities

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NEW YORK — The Earth Day home video debut of the blockbuster Sci-fi hit “Avatar” proved to be a consumer electronics promos bonanza, even though the film that was famous for its stunning 3D production was released initially only as a 2D stand-alone feature.

In the first four days of the home video release, “Avatar” sold 6.7 million DVD and Blu-ray Disc units, for sales revenue exceeding $2.7 billion globally.

The first-day “Avatar” Blu-ray sales total (not including rentals or on-demand buys) was pegged at 1.5 million units, breaking the previous 600,000-unit oneday record set by Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight.”

However, market conditions continue to hamper the home entertainment industry, and the “Avatar” totals did not blemish oneday release records back in the peak years for DVD, when combined Day One DVD and VHS releases for “Finding Nemo,” for example, reached 8 million units.

As for the eventual 3D release of “Avatar,” which is expected early next year, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment wasn’t saying.

The studio helped stoke the fires a week before the release by bringing the film’s producer Jon Landau to New York to meet with home entertainment journalists.

Landau said he and partner James Cameron, the film’s creator and director, will never again shoot a film only in 2D and that he welcomes filmmakers revisiting 2D classic films by rereleasing them as converted 3D versions.

But the lack of a 3D disc didn’t stop the cross-promotional hype with the CE community.

Panasonic played up its promotional coup in gaining exclusive rights to offer a free copy of the disc with the purchase of one of its Blu-ray Disc players or Blu-ray home-theater systems.

Panasonic had previously partnered with the studio and Lightstorm Entertainment on the global promotion of “Avatar,” including the use of Pansonic’s latest A/V technology products.

Panasonic also supported the bigscreen release of the film by launching a global advertising campaign in December 2009 tied to a number of Panasonic A/ V products, including Panasonic’s Full- HD 3D Home Theater Systems that debuted in March.

Panasonic’s promotion offered purchasers of its Blu-ray Disc products a $25 rebate on the purchase of a Panasonic Blu-ray Disc player or home entertainment system and a copy of the blockbuster film on either disc format.

Eligible models in the rebate promotion include the following: DMP-BD45, DMP-BD65, DMP-BD85, DMP-B100, DMP-B500, SC-BT230, SC-BT330 and the SC-BT730.

An official rebate form is included inside “Avatar” Blu-ray or DVD discs.

Internet video platform and service provider Vudu also got in on the “Avatar” act, offering the 2D high-definition streaming version of the movie for purchase through its service, along with extra content not available on the Blu-ray Disc.

Vudu enjoyed a 28-day advance release window on the digital delivery of the film over rival streaming-video provider Netflix, the company said. Vudu’s digital release of the film was day and date with home-video disc releases.

The extras content, which is offered in standard definition at no extra charge, includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the equipment James Cameron invented to shoot “Avatar.”

Vudu will make “Avatar” available for purchase in its HD and HDX high-definition formats for $25 or in standard definition for $20.

Vudu users who purchase the film are able to play it back at any time in the future from the Vudu servers in the cloud.

On the retail side, both Best Buy and Amazon tapped into the “Avatar” buzz as well.

Best Buy staged a midnight release party, offering the first discs up for sale to eager fans in more than 200 locations at 12:01 a.m. April 22.

Amazon, meanwhile, offered the Bluray/ DVD combo pack “Avatar” for $19.99, reduced $20 from the $39.99 suggested retail, in the days both before and after the disc’s release.


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