Avatar Gets Allocated in Canada

To help Canadian merchants understand the allocation policy for Avatar when it hits stores Thursday April 22 (Earth Day), Fox Home Video sent a handy FAQ which makes it clear Avatar will debut as a plain movie-only edition in 2D – nothing unexpected, since that info was already available in February.

What is surprising, however, is the film’s limited availability to merchants and buyers alike.

As stated in Fox’s FAQ:

“Allocation will be heavily controlled by Fox and James Cameron. The most likely reason is to ensure the market is not flooded and the title sell [sic] through clean with very little returns… Avatar has been offered as a one-time order only… This version will be available for 10 weeks before being discontinued. A 3D Special Extended Edition is planned for 4th quarter of 2010.”

“Flooded” seems a rather rich term, but the thinking is perhaps it’ll sate the rental market, satisfy those who must own the film, and keep the film in a kind of limited circulation until the fall when it debuts in 3D Blu-ray as more 3D sets and 3D Blu-ray players make their way to consumers.

I’m not sure if it’s bold, proactive, or a means to keep the film active in theatres while a legit home video version exists to buy, and then to rent. The question is whether people will care to buy the film yet again in the fall, or will there be a calming down period where those delighted by the theatrical 3D experience won’t even bother owning the film because

a) the 3D process has earned more praise than the story, and after several months, people might feel the story’s weaknesses will be more apparent on a flat/2D home screen

b) with 3D TV + player retail combos debuting for under $4000 (or sets by Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony roughly priced between $2200-$4000 Canadian), exactly how successful will the nascent format be, since 1080i sets and lower are selling for a pittance, now that average consumers are getting used to 1080p sets and Blu-ray players. (Meaning: do people really want to buy the core home theatre hardware again?)

I love 3D, so I’m watching the HD version’s launch and peoples’ reactions with interest, but even if 2/3’s of the rumored thirty-seven 3D films slated for 2010-2011 release are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray, will those titles – which will sell for a premium – really motivate people to re-buy serious hardware?

And if they don’t within the next 8 months, will Avatar still be a blockbuster home video release, or will people pass on re-buying the film?

If there is going to be a ‘flood,’ it might be the used DVD shops that’ll be stacked with bare bones copies a year from now...



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