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Excuse My Na’vi-ity: At What Point Does Re-Releasing Avatar Become Overkill?

I’ll admit that I did not like James Cameron’s Avatar as much as most. It was a slight disturbing racial fantasy played with Disney-esque simplicity and some truly incredible special effects. Such is life. It’s inevitable that my opinion diverges from the mainstream from time-to-time. I mean, everyone’s should at one point or another, right? Still, I can’t be the only person who thinks that re-releasing Avatar into the cinema smacks of cynicism – particularly with eight minutes of restored footage (that’s less that 5% of the total runtime). The movie is already the most successful movie ever made. At what point does enough become enough? 

This movie has wings...

 

Maybe it’s unfair to direct this rant at Avatar – this is a problem I have with the way the studios sell a great many of their films. Watchmen got no less than three DVD releases, for example, in a bid for the nerdy dollar. The Dark Knight got a cinematic re-release Stateside after that year’s Oscar nominations were announced. Countless movies are subject to countless re-releases and “special editions” and “director’s cuts” as a way of taking work that has already been done and turning a major profit on it. And Avater is – as I conceded in my review – a film which really deserves to be seen in the cinema, so in a way it’s good that it is coming back. 

I accept that Avatar isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. And – given the volume of public interest – perhaps it’s more legitimate to nerdily repackage this film rather than a much more esoteric property. But still, it feels a little cheeky. Somehow it’s more understandable for a film company to exploit their fanbase if it is to help make money back on a bomb, rather than to make money for the sake of money. Avatar has made more money than any film ever. James Cameron literally has more money than he could ever know what to do with. They’re going to make a sequel and that will make more money than anyone else knows what to do with either. 

It somehow feels inappropriate to “thank” an audience which gave you such success by turning them upside down and shaking them to see what falls out. Seriously, look at the planned DVD release schedule for Avatar. On Earth Day, a barebones DVD was releases without any special features whatsoever and a ridiculous rationale was given

“We went to Fox and told them that, for this movie, we wanted to do something really special and reach for the best presentation of any film in the history of the format,” Landau said. “This is a movie that has done the unexpected every step of the way. Fox agreed with us and the result is amazing. Everything that is put on a disc takes up room — the menus, the extras, the trailers and studio promotions — and we got rid of all of that so we could give this movie the best picture and sound possible.” 

Well, then throw in like an extra disc, unless cost is like an issue. I mean, if you’re giving this thing away then maybe give it a barebones release… 

Consumers will not be getting that hard work for cheap; Avatar arrives at retail with premium pricing. For the Earth Day release, the single-disc version of Avatar will have a suggested retail price of $29.98 on DVD and $39.99 on Blu-ray. A source at Fox said the “shelf” prices at many retailers will be closer to $19.99 for the DVD and $29.99 for the Blu-ray. 

… oh, so we’re paying a special edition price for a barebones release? 

Quaritch would be proud of the DVD release schedule...

 

Okay, well at least that means they are taking the time to put together a proper special edition release. I mean, the November DVD release looks like it packs some whallop

Perhaps eight and a half minutes isn’t enough to lure you back to the theater.  What if I told you the Avatar: Special Edition DVD, set for November, will feature sixteen minutes of Pandora wonders?  Unbelievable (unless you read this article’s title)!  That brings the complete story to a cool three hours. 

Wow… and it’s in 3D? Oh, wait

A third version, in 3-D, will likely come out next year, they said. By then, more consumers are expected to have 3-D televisions in their homes. 

So that’s three DVD releases for the most popular movie of all-time in the space of two years? George Lucas has nothing on Fox, apparently. 

Why not release the 3D version now so that the early adopters of 3D home media can enjoy it? I could understand if you were arguing the technology isn’t there, but that’s not the reason for the decision. The fact the people aren’t buying the technology is being used to sell the movie three times within the twenty-four months of its release. Seriously? 

At what point does enough become enough? It is a huge money-spinner and has great good will attached to it, but how long can Fox keep going back to the well (particularly in so short a time) before it becomes unsustainable? I don’t know, and the truth is that I suspect they will make enough money to keep going back. I’m not adverse to capitalism in action (which this so clearly is), I’m just noticeable flustered that nobody seems willing to pat themselves on the back for breaking all those records and being comfortable enough to break all those records again in a way that isn’t to cynically exploitive. 

Then again, I am probably just being my usual niave self underneath all this cynicism. Movie studios exist to make money and to wring the last dollar from their properties. It’s what they do, there’s no point hating them for it. Still, I can’t help but feel a little frustrated.

4 Responses

  1. That is the single stupidest press release/thing I’ve ever read. Can’t they be content with the billion they made the first time?

    • Yep, or at least not screw the fans so badly. But such is life. I’d never make a decent movie executive. 🙂

  2. I was a fan of the theatrical release. I was not going to see the re-release and now I’m positive I won’t be buying the film. Overkill, indeed.

  3. I agree that this kind of shameless money grabbing is wrong, but if people are willing to be stupid and pay multiple times for it you can agure that it is the better business decision. If people stop buying into it, I have faith that it would stop.

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