Yes, I know. You're all so very excited about the big 'Avatar' announcement. James Cameron is forgoing the perhaps ill-conceived idea of doing a 3-D period piece with Angelina Jolie in order to return to Pandora. And return he shall, not once but twice, filming 'Avatar 2' and 'Avatar 3' which we should see in theaters around the turn of the next century. After which, I'm sure we'll get to see Angelina seduce whichever poor sap they dupe into playing Marc Antony ... in 3-D! But I digress.

As some of you eagle-eyed readers may remember, the 'My Bloody Valentine' remake recently made a splash by becoming the first live-action film to be released on 3D Blu-ray. To clarify, 3D Blu-ray is a new format, based on the same Blu-ray technology that debuted in 2007, which allows for full color 3-D at home. While the initial Blu-ray release of 'My Bloody Valentine' included a 3-D version of the film, it was the older anaglyph 3-D technology which uses red/blue glasses. 3D Blu-ray is the same type of 3-D utilized in theaters these days, requiring clear glasses but delivering a much more enjoyable 3-D experience.

Up until now 3-D at home has been making relatively slow progress, most likely due to a paucity of available 3-D content. ESPN is making big waves in the live market, producing much of this year's World Cup coverage in three dimensions, but 3D Blu-ray is still limited to a handful of titles That could all change this holiday season, though.

Both the original 'Avatar' Blu-ray release as well as the upcoming 3-disc special edition feature 2D-only versions of the highest-grossing film of all time will be available for public consumption this November. But perhaps more important than its incredible box office returns is its lasting influence on 3-D technology. Widely regarded as some of the best 3-D to ever grace the silver screen, a 3-D version of 'Avatar' may just be the catalyst that 3-D TV and 3D Blu-ray need to make inroads in the home theater market.

As if that weren't enough, somehow Panasonic made a deal to get the 3D Blu-ray of 'Avatar' exclusively. Big thanks to the folks over at High Def Digest for the heads up. For those who don't know, 3D Blu-ray is a universal format, but all 3-D display technology is not created equally. What this means is that you can buy any 3D Blu-ray player and hook it up to any 3-D TV and it will work just fine. But the way Panasonic does 3-D is different from the way Samsung does 3-D and so on.

3-D TV requires each viewer to wear a pair of 3-D glasses, but the glasses are proprietary. Panasonic glasses will only work with Panasonic TVs etc. Panasonic's exclusivity deal means that the 3D Blu-ray of 'Avatar' will only be available to customers who purchase a Panasonic 3-D TV. It will be released as part of a 3-D Ultimate Pack which will include 'Avatar' as well as two pairs of Panasonic 3-D glasses. While the disc itself could be played back in any 3-D Blu-ray player connected to any type of 3-D TV, owners of other brands of 3-D TVs won't be able to purchase the disc directly. Samsung had a similar exclusivity deal with the 3D Blu-ray of 'Monsters vs. Aliens,' which is still not available outside of the Samsung 3-D Starter Pack.

The difference is that the Samsung pack can be purchased separately, so 3-D enthusiasts after 'Monsters vs. Aliens' could always buy the Samsung pack, keep the disc and try to sell the glasses. This, however, would be an expensive proposition as the Samsung pack is still going for almost $350. Currently it appears that the Panasonic pack with 'Avatar' is only available from Panasonic and not available for individual sale regardless of price, though that could change in the weeks leading up to or even after the initial release.

The Panasonic 3-D Ultimate Pack with 'Avatar' will be available starting December 1st. Anyone who purchased a Panasonic 3-D TV before that date will be eligible to receive the 'Avatar' disc itself by sending in a copy of their receipt. The film's unparalleled popularity will undoubtedly drive many consumers to take the plunge on 3-D TV this year. The promise of a 3-D copy of 'Avatar' coupled with the incredible sales may work together to move a lot of units on Black Friday and certainly the other sales leading up to Christmas will entice potential costumers as well.

But the question remains: Will this push be big enough to make 3-D at home the next big thing? Or will it end up going the way of LaserDisc?

PG-13 2009
Based on 35 critics

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