On March 23, Avatar director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau presented scenes from the film's upcoming Blu-ray release, outlined the ongoing fan engagement program, and announced the Avatar-related global partnership between Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Earth Day Network, the international non-profit organization that coordinates Earth Day programs annually.
As previously reported, Avatar will be available on Blu-ray on April 22. The release will not include any supplemental features - only the film and corresponding menu, utilizing the disc's entire storage space in order to provide the highest quality optimal picture and sound.
"We wanted the best presentation of any film in the history of the Blu-ray and DVD formats," said Landau. "Our launch into the home in April will allow fans to return to Pandora again and again."
During the press conference, it was revealed that 20th Century Fox is foregoing any trailers or advertising. "The Blu-ray is going to be pure movie", summed up Landau. Half-jokingly, James Cameron said that he has an unwritten deal with Fox, according to which "any time one of my movies makes more than a billion dollars we leave all the crap trailers off". He admitted, "I can't stand them any more than you can."
Cameron confirmed that the Blu-ray release would have an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (or 16:9), which he considers the "highest and best for this movie." The movie was finished in 16:9, so for the Blu-ray they went to that master, without any pan-and-scan or blow-up. Cameron explained that that "little bit of extra frame" enhances the sense of height, especially in the flight sequences. He clarified that he loves the scope ratio compositionally, but he fell in love with the movie in 16:9 and prefers to watch it in this aspect ratio.
Cameron discusses Avatar aspect ratio (video Home Theater Forum)
Although the press conference was focused on the upcoming April release, Jon Landau also commented on the November special edition, which will have added-value content, including a "full filmmaker's journey" and branching video.
To bridge the gap between the April and November releases, Fox is launching the interactive "Avatar Program." Through a unique code found inside the Avatar Blu-ray/DVD, consumers can register at avatarmovie.com and gain exclusive access to first-look bonus materials, special content and money saving offers (reportedly, registered users will receive an e-coupon good towards the purchase of the future special-edition Blu-ray of Avatar.
Additionally, only registered fans will be able to adopt one of the one million trees being planted on behalf of Earth Day and receive a virtual hometree they can locate on a map to see where it's actually planted (see below).
Other Avatar digital initiatives include:
Pandorama: Via a computer's webcam users can immerse themselves into the world of Pandora, inserting themselves into different locations from the movie and interacting with the elements in each; users can snap postcards and share amongst friends only at Pandorama.
Pandorapedia: The official guide to the world of Pandora and James Cameron's Avatar, fans enter a world beyond imagination with hundreds of facts on Pandora that can be accessed online.
Immersive Trailer: The first-ever interactive trailer allows fans to click on any part of the video to explore detail frame-by-frame and in-context "hot spots" that will offer meticulous information on characters, locations and more.
Interactive Desktop Wallpaper: Instant access to all things Avatar including newsfeeds, videos, social network updates and exclusive content that is updated automatically right on your desktop.
Blue goes green
Taking the Avatar message of conservation and ecological harmony, the studio and Earth Day Network, together with various organizations worldwide, will pledge to plant one million trees in 15 different countries by the end of 2010.
"I am pleased to have the opportunity to share the environmental messages from Avatar through the efforts during the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and with Earth Day Network," said James Cameron." Earth Day Network's commitment and actions to promote a healthy, sustainable planet go hand-in-hand with the themes of Avatar."
"Avatar sends a universal message about the danger of exploiting our natural resources and brings to the forefront of the global consciousness the need to protect our planet and humanity, said Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network. "We hope this commitment from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to plant one million trees, will inspire others to stand up against climate change for Earth Day."
Update: more information from a transcript published on Collider.
The November release will feature three cuts of the movie: the "basic movie", as theatrically released; an extended cut with 6 minutes of fully finished footage seamlessly added back in; and an earlier cut of the film that has 30 or 35 minutes of additional footage, some of which will be in unfinished form. Cameron explained: "it will be a little bit more like some of the Disney stuff that they do where they leave pencil tests in for scenes that were never done. 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."
Additionally, the disc will offer a picture-in-picture with "just the reference cameras of the capture." This will be a parallel cut, matching the finished movie shot by shot. "It doesn't look like the movie, but the essence of it and the moment is exactly what you see in the final film. It's just people in black leotards. It's pretty wild. It's pretty amazing."
No 3D BD yet
Cameron said: "There just aren't that many players and screens yet. We have more of a long-term strategy, in that area." But, I think it would be a shame to hold back the Blu-ray when people want it now, and I love it. I think it's a great format."
That said, the filmmaker recommended that anyone thinking of buying a Blu-ray player now should "make sure you get one that's 3D-compatible because you're going to want it."
Regarding 3D displays, he had this to say: "If you're going to go 3D, go big. Get the biggest set you can, and then sit as close as you can stand. That's my advice. Get the coffee table out of the way and slide the couch over, right in front of the TV."
Home vs theater experience
When asked to compare the experience of watching the movie at home and in the theater, Cameron, said that the home viewing preserves "the richness, the vibrancy and the dynamics" of the movie, with the advantage that "you can control your environment." For Cameron, the big-screen experience is just a bonus.
However, he said there's a limit that you don't want to go below, and he doesn't recommend watching Avatar on an iPhone, or even a laptop. "I don't feel that I'm making movies for iPhones," he said. "If someone wants to watch it on an iPhone, I'm not going to stop them, especially if they're paying for it, but I don't recommend it. I think it's dumb, when you have characters that are so small in the frame that they're not visible. I'm trying to make an epic. I'm not doing an episode of some talking heads, one-hour drama. To me, there's a limit that you wouldn't want to go below. I don't know. I've never watched Avatar on a laptop. I guess it probably works, but I don't recommend it. What I recommend is getting the coffee table out of the way and sticking your couch about four feet from your TV."
1. Release with no extra's
2. Release with some extra's.
3. Directors Cut with some extra's
4. Special Edition with 2 discs
5. Deluxe Edition with 3 discs, higher quality then directors cut and more extra's.
6. Ultimate collection with even more stuff.
Oeh I forgot the 3D release and such... hmmm decadipping?
Making money as a company is one thing but if it really goes along those lines....
So I guess adding a second disc with extras would somehow "spoil" the experience? Patting themselves on the back for giving us nothing but the movie is B.S. This is destined to be a great rental - lousy own.
If they "want the best presentation of any film in history", then why would they even bother releasing it on DVD? Are they actually going to release a bare bones DVD Disc too, for the people that dont have a Bluray player?
Shouldnt they just release it on Blu-ray-only by that logic?
(I'm anti-DVD, so bare with me). In other words, they're leaving all "extra's" off the Bluray release to make it look the best. OK. But what's their incentive to release a bare bones DVD?
I initially hated that there were no extra features, but the more I think about it, how often do I watch that stuff and how much of the info in the extras is actually new to me (just go on the internet and you can read hundreds of trivia points on any film, it's rare that a bonus feature will present me with info i hadn't already heard)
I equate this release to that of watchmen last year, I'll buy the first release and probabaly skip the second one, in the end the movie is all that matters. I get overwhelmed by special features lately anyways (I have so many blurays, that having to watch all the special features becomes tiresome)
First day buy for me, and if the special edition in November offers something that I just can't resist then i'll double dip with the e-coupon. Thats life i guess, but I enjoyed this film like crazy and I want it in my hands as soon as possible
besides, it's better James Cameron gets my money then my ex-wife