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The thrill of watching Avatar at home

April 26, 2010 13:56 IST

With Avatar still running in the movie theatres -- it grossed nearly $1 million in North America and about $2 million abroad over the weekend -- the enormous appetite for the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the box office behemoth can be described in just one word -- stunning.

In North America alone, home video sale reached at least $130 million. The rental figures are not released as yet.

Though there are no additional attractions such as director's commentary or deleted scenes,  the DVD and Blu-ray versions released on Earth Day are creating records in the home entertainment industry.

One of the key reasons why Avatar has grossed $2.7 billion worldwide is its repeat value. Though the DVD and Blu-ray versions can not replicate the experience in the theatres, still there is a lot of fun and thrills watching the film at home. The desire to see the film again at home in company of one's family and friends outweighs the prospects of waiting for an enhanced version of the film or the 3-D DVD that could materialise early next year.

The movie's producer and director James Cameron has said a special edition in November with additional footage and extras. A 3-D Blu-ray won't be available until 2011 while the studio holds out for 3D home video technology to become more prevalent and Blu-ray technology to match theatrical quality, wrote blogger Jeff Leins in News in Film.

Despite the on-going slump in the DVD and Blu-ray market for over two years, Avatar has sold 2.7 million Blu-ray discs in the US and Canada since hitting the stores on Thursday, according to 20th Century Fox which announced the figures Sunday evening.

It has sold more Blu-rays than any previous movie, out-beating the life-time record set by The Dark Knight, which 2.5 million Blu-rays since its debut 16 months ago, the Los Angles Times reported.

The movie has grossed $745 million in North America. If the DVD and Blu-ray sales and rentals could reach half of the film's box office, it will be considered a phenomenal feat in the current slump.

Fox also sold 4 million standard definition DVDs. The combined total makes Avatar the biggest DVD launch of the year, breaking a previous mark of 4 million Blu-ray and DVDs combined set by The Twilight Saga: The New Moon in early March in North America.

The second film in the popular series, it has sold DVD and Blu-ray editions worth $200 million and may have a chance of coming close to its $290 million at the North American box-office gross when the rental incomes are added.

Released in a handful of countries in Europe on DVD and Blu-ray, Avatar could be setting records there too. In France, the four-day combined sale for the two versions could as high as 1.5 units over the four-day weekend.

The trade publication Variety reported last week that Fox was going to treat the DVD and Blu-ray release as an event. Normally, the home video versions are released on a Tuesday. But Fox  decided to release the versions on Thursday, Variety pointed out, adding 'Fox is using the film's environmental themes to tie into the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with a tree-planting on the Fox lot (in Los Angeles) on Thursday, followed by the studio planting 1 million trees in 15 countries by the end of the year with the Earth Day Network.'

Although Cameron said  he 'was actually kind of skeptical' of the plan to release Avatar on home video so early, Variety added, 'because it's still in some theatres, he was still drawn to the notion of releasing it on Earth Day -- not only because of the film's environmental themes but also because it sends the pic out several weeks ahead of tentpoles like Iron Man 2 that will kick off the summer and distract consumers.'

Though the Blu-ray version of Avatar costs about 25 percent more than the DVD -- many stores across America are selling it for about $22 -- it is worth buying. The images are sharper and naturally, the pleasure is greater.

Arthur J Pais in New York