‘Avatar’ looks to create a fan tribe that will carry on past the film

May 27, 2010 | 1:35 a.m.

Avatar faces

 

Avatar is now the bestselling Blu-ray in the history of the format (although that’s not all that long, truth be told) but one big reason is the jammed-to-the-gills quality of the images and sound on the take-it-home version.

“Avatar,” obviously, was created to be seen on a theater screen, and in 3D. So the transition to home video was a challenging one — and, on top of that, writer-director James Cameron is a world-class perfectionist. For both those reasons, every bit of disc room was dedicated to a meticulously transferred version of the film and it shows in clarity, visual punch and the richness of imagery.

Avatar bluray

The trade-off, though, was a pricey disc that comes with no extras at all. The disc doesn’t even have trailers or advertisement of any kind (a fact that must have distressed an executive or two at Fox since the promotional real estate on the bestselling Blu-ray of all time is clearly a commodity). It was an admirable decision, really, but today’s consumers are accustomed to extras and their first reaction when they don’t see any is to think they’re getting a cut-rate product.

To fill the gap, the folks at Fox Home Video and on Cameron’s team (which is, ultimately, led by Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau and Cameron himself) have created the elaborate website AvatarMovie.com, where you can access those extras on-line and, with a code you get by purchasing an “Avatar” DVD or Blu-ray, access even more content and a sense of community. The code leads the way to “first-look bonus materials, special content, money-saving offers and more,” as Fox puts it. Also, only those fans who register for “The Avatar Program” with that code will be able to adopt a seedling among the 1 million trees being planted as part of the film’s Earth Day initiative (adoption comes with “a virtual hometree” that locates your adopted tree on a map).

I’d be interested to hear what Hero Complex readers think of the quality of the offerings on the website but more than that what your view is on the idea of creating something akin to an “Avatar” community. “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” have each became the axis of vast tribal followings (with some factions treating it as a quasi-religion) but other “visionary” sci-fi franchises (The Matrix springs to mind) live on as great moments in film but don’t become pop-culture movements. “Avatar” certainly stirred some obsessive behavior but, a decade from now, will there be conventions dedicated to Cameron’s universe?  A lot depends on that alien-oceans sequel, I’d say…

Here’s a quick excerpt from one of the videos that is part of content on the website. It’s Stephen Lang, who gave one of the most memorable performances in the film, in character and explaining the dangers and delights of Pandora….

Jujubes taste good.

— Geoff Boucher

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PHOTOS: Top, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in “Avatar” (Twentieth Century Fox); Second, the Blu-ray for “Avatar” is a bestseller (Fox); bottom, James Cameron goes native, illustration by Kevin Lingenfelser


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