On the first of December the Avatar movie was finally released on stereoscopic Blu-ray 3D format in the U.S. Unfortunately for the majority of stereo-3D (S3D) television owners and fans of Avatar, the Blu-ray 3D version of the movie will be available exclusively with equipment by Panasonic.
Panasonic, the consumer electronics company that has been popularizing S3D technology for years now, decided not to let the best-known stereo-3D movie on the open market, but inked a deal with Twentieth Century Fox to distribute Avatar exclusively with its HDTVs, Bly-ray 3D (BD 3D) players and various S3D bundles at least this holiday season. The consequence is that owners of non-Panasonic players and TVs will not be able to get unless they buy additional equipment they do not need from Panasonic.
In order to watch Avatar in S3D format at home, customers will have to acquire Panasonic Viera VT or GT-series of 3D Plasma HDTVs and get a free Panasonic 3D Full HD Ultimate Pack that includes Blu-ray 3D version of James Cameron's Avatar and two pairs of rechargeable Panasonic 3D glasses. Alternatively, consumers may simply acquire the 3D Full HD Ultimate Pack for $399 and obtain a pair of 3D glasses that are useless for non-Panasonic TVs. Panasonic is also offering current owners of 2010 Viera TVs, who purchased their TVs between March 10, 2010 and November 30, 2010 an opportunity to receive a complimentary copy of Avatar on Blu-ray 3D via a mail-in request program.
While Panasonic has done a lot for Blu-ray stereo-3D standard in general and Avatar movie in particular, exclusive bundle of the highly-anticipated movie seems excessive. Other consumer electronics companies like Samsung Electronics or Sony Corp. have done a lot to promote the standard (in fact, Sony PlayStation 3 is the world's most popular BD 3D player) and locking one of the highly-anticipated movies to one hardware supplier does not seem to be a fair business practice. Potentially, Samsung and Sony can also cut bundling deals with producers of popular movies, but while the move will punish the Osaka, Japan-based maker of TVs, this will create a mess on the BD 3D market akin to a war of formats.
Alternatively, owners of non-Panasonic 3D TVs can download Blu-ray 3D remux of the Avatar from a torrent web-site and record it using a Blu-ray 3D burner (which costs less than $399), or get a copy of Avatar on Blu-ray 3D for $100 - $399 at Ebay.