Avatar Blu-Ray DVD Sets Record, Annoys Users
April 23, 2010

The biggest movie of all time, as the ad keeps telling me, is now available on home video. Only it’s not in 3-D and, well, it may not work.

Avatar Blu-ray cover
Avatar Blu-ray
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The DVD and Blu-ray were released yesterday, Earth Day, in order to tie into the movie’s ecological themes, instead of the usual Tuesday. According to the Hollywood Reporter,

Blu-ray sales of Avatar — at 1.5 million copies — well outpaced first-day sales of previous high-def top dog The Dark Knight. An early industry estimate set overall disc sales of the title comfortably north of 4 million units, putting it well on track to become the year’s top-selling release to date.

This was a first-day Blu-ray sales record, even though the disc had minimal special features. The feature-packed version is scheduled for November, while a 3-D version is due out sometime next year, when more homes will supposedly have the hardware gear to support the viewing method.

Unfortunately, the studio was concerned about copyright violation, so in a typically short-sighted fashion, they loaded the disc up with DRM that’s preventing disc playback in some cases. Amazon has posted a note on their sales page:

This edition of the film is not in 3D. Also, we recommend customers with older Blu-ray players update their player firmware to ensure successful playback of this product.

But some customers are complaining that it won’t play, even though their player is up to date. At what point does copyright protection prevent the customer from using the product in the intended manner? I’d argue we’ve already passed that stage, and studios worried about sales figures need to back off a bit.

16 Responses  
Dwight Williams writes:  

And I’m supposed to switch to this format?

No thanks.

Kelson writes:  

What, they didn’t learn their lesson from the fake CDs that wouldn’t play properly (or at all) in computers?

The more things change…

Johanna writes:  

Wasn’t that Sony, not Fox? It’s so hard to keep track of the screwy things studios do.

James Schee writes:  

Dang I better check my copy tonight then….

I wonder if something helping the sales, at least to me. Was that Target had the Blue Ray/DVD combo pack at $20. I mean dang that’s a deal!

Dwight Williams writes:  

Sony was the source of that rootkit mess a few years back, yes. Whether we’re seeing a replay here, I don’t know.

Johanna writes:  

I think, in the aggregate, people are sheep. It’s a popular movie, so people want it, which makes it more popular.

Mitchell Craig writes:  

As a people greeter at Walmart, I’ve had quite a few customers bringing back copies of Avatar in the past couple of days.
Not quite as many as those who brought back Twilight a few months ago, but it’s still something to ponder.

James Schee writes:  

Mine worked, but then mine isn’t one that hooks up to the internet. Gotta say, I don’t get that aspect anyway. Its for me to watch movies on, why would I want it to be online? Attention companies, I don’t want my microwave or toaster with online capabilities either!!

Johanna writes:  

Mitchell, why did so many people return Twilight? Did it have similar technical problems?

Mitchell Craig writes:  

Well, Johanna, there were a variety of reasons:

Some people did have similar technical problems that prevented the DVD from playing.
Others bought it as a gift, only to find the intended recipient had already gotten a copy.
One customer returned the CD, which he’d bought as a mistake (instead of the DVD).

Of course, I like to think some people brought it back because they actually WATCHED THE MOVIE AGAIN AND DISCOVERED HOW MUCH IT SUCKED!


Johanna writes:  

Ha ha! I didn’t know WalMart would let you return movies you didn’t like. Good to know!

Thom writes:  

>And I’m supposed to switch to this format?

>No thanks.

This is a problem that DVD and CDs have encountered. It is hardly an endictment of the format itself. There have been relatively few such problems. And unlike DVDs, where sometime, a change in the DVD resulted in being out of luck, firmware upgrades for blu-ray is easy and painless.

Johanna writes:  

Thom, that’s true, but it ignores the cases where users have the latest firmware for their players and the disc still won’t play, as has reportedly happened here. They’re dependent on the vendor to release new software, and that may not be a priority for the electronic maker.

Thom writes:  

But that is not a problem exclusive to Blu-Ray…it happens with DVDs and CDs as well, so holding it against the blu-ray is not really fair. So far? I have only had to send in for replacement DVDs in the last few years. And two HD-DVDs… but I have never had to replace a Blu-Ray. That said, I specifically chose not to buy the movie… as they said on te Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current:
“Finally see Avatar as it was MEANT to be seen. In 2-D on your mid-sized television set.”

When they claimed the reason for no special features was because they were going to use every inch of the Blu-Ray to get the finest visuals possible, I called shenanigans. Because, yeah, it would have been tough to put together a second disc of special features.

Jack writes:  

I think this is a rip off.

I paid £12.00 for this DVD. I knew it wasn’t in 3d, but was disappointed when I saw that there was only one disc – not one for special features. And then when I put the dvd in my dvd player it didn’t work the first two time, and when in sorted itself out, I discovered that there wasn’t any special features on it at all. So basically, just the 2d movie with no special features that is unreliable and doesn’t work properly. This better be a really good movie or I’ll be very annoyed.

It Must Be Convention Time — How to Get Discovered, And Non-Representative Audiences » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] follow: Comic-Con loved Ponyo, but it did badly in theaters. Congoers made fun of Avatar, but it became the biggest movie ever. Last year’s Jonah Hex panel went well, but the movie […]


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