Confirming the rumors, Panasonic has announced that the 3D version of the 'Avatar' Blu-ray disc will arrive in December as an exclusive available only to owners of the company's 3D TVs.
As first reported by TWICE:
At launch, running through an undisclosed period of time, the disc will only be available to consumers who purchase a Panasonic 3D Viera plasma TV. The promotional offer will likely take the form of a variety of bundles onto the purchase of Viera 3D TVs and related equipment, although exact details are still to be announced, the company said.
Currently available qualifying TVs include the TC-PVT20/25 series, which has been available starting in April, and the recently announced TC-PGT25 series.
CNET spoke with a Panasonic representative who confirmed that current owners of Panasonic 3D TVs would also have access to the offer. Details are still being worked out as to exactly how, and whether or not the disc will be free. According to the TWICE report, it's also unclear whether Panasonic would make the disc available to customers who purchase only a Panasonic Blu-ray player or Blu-ray home-theater system.
Although the Panasonic rep could not confirm it to CNET, we suspect that this initial release of "Avatar" will be largely devoid of special features such as commentaries and featurettes. The 2D Blu-ray version available now is similarly "bare-bones," as are current 3D Blu-ray exclusives--including "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and "Coraline" from Panasonic, and "Monsters vs. Aliens" from Samsung. Along with Sony's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," the sole 3D Blu-ray available in stores, these animated children's titles comprise the extent of the current 3D Blu-ray catalog, which would likely make "Avatar" the first live-action 3D Blu-ray movie available in the US.
Exclusivity, though annoying for early adopters seeking 3D content, is the norm in this first year of 3D's widespread availability in the home. Similar exclusive deals for 3D sporting events include the U.S. Open on DirecTV, The Masters on Comcast and a few other cable providers, and an NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots on Verizon's Fios network.