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Avatar Re-Release Is The Ultimate Argument For The Death Of Physical Media

James Cameron’s Avatar is already the highest grossing film in history, and the Aug. 27th release of the “Special Edition” is sure to only add to that phenomenal box office total.  However, the question that immediately leaps to my mind is just how angry should people who bought the DVD and Blu-ray be over this little tactic to get people into the theater again?

Avatar was released on Dec. 18, 2009 and went on to gross over $2.7 billion dollars at the world box office.  The DVD and Blu-ray were released on April 22nd of this year, with neither disc version featuring deleted scenes, but that didn’t stop the film from going on to be a huge seller at the checkout counter.

Avatar sex sceneRumors are that a total of 20 to 40 minutes of the film ended up being cut for the original release, and the Special Edition is going to include 12 of those minutes edited back in to the film.  One scene in particular has become a bit of a legend in the short time this film has existed, and that is the Na’vi sex scene between Neytiri and Jake.  According to Mr. Cameron it is in no way graphic, and doesn’t change the rating for the film at all, but it has been discussed so much that it alone will drive people into the theater.  Therein is the issue as I see it as to why physical media should die.

Lets face it, now this film will be released again on DVD and Blu-ray, and it will come with this extra 12 minutes.  Some people won’t care and will skip buying it, while others, who don’t read the Internet movie news, will have no idea these scenes were cut and will end up buying yet another version.  And of course you have movie fanatics who must have the most complete version possible and will end up with a second copy.  I highly doubt the number of people who held out for a special edition was that big, so more than likely there will be a lot of double buyers.

Currently the first Blu-ray is $23.99 on Amazon ($19.99 for standard DVD), you can probably expect to drop that much on the second version, so you’re looking at $48 spent on Blu-ray discs for the same movie.  Here’s my crazy idea … lets say you bought it digitally.  The second version comes out, you go to buy it, the system says, “We see you purchased the original release, you may upgrade to the Special Edition for $4, would you like to do so?”  You can insert whatever price you like, but the studio still makes some money, you don’t feel as hosed, everyone walks away happy.  If you didn’t buy the first version, you of course pay full price for the second version.

Something similar could happen with the physical copies via a rebate program, but it would be a huge pain in the behind for all involved.

Do I think any of this will ever happen?  I’m not sure “no” is a strong enough word.  Of course it won’t happen!  The studio figured out how to make a ton more money off the same movie again, and they’re going to run with it!  People will get angry, but if they want it bad enough, they’ll buy it anyway, I have no question of this, but it sure is nice to dream of a world where Hollywood stops trying to milk us for every dollar it can, and modern technology sure could help make that a reality.

For the record, I haven’t seen Avatar, and I have no desire to see it.  So I have no dog in this fight, and no hurt feelings … course, if this was about the ten different version of Watchmen on home video, it would be a different scenario.

What say you?  Are you tired of Hollywood milking you for every dollar it can with multiple home video releases?  What do you think is a good solution?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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