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Panasonic Dishes on Avatar Exclusivity: Why 3D Exclusives Help More Than Hurt

Sections: 3D, Movies, Video

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Dragon3dPanasonic talked to Home Cinema magazine the other day, and revealed how Avatar 3D came into their camp. According to director of R&D Masayuki Kozuka, Twentieth Century Fox tossed the title to both Panasonic and Samsung, and a small bidding war ensued.

‘Studios come to us and ask if we want to take exclusive deals. We don’t usually go to them,’ said Kozuka. The R&D man also explained why the Avatar deal is likely to be one-off: ‘The market is more mature now, but during 2010 there was very little software. We needed an incentive.’

While many 3D owners would argue that the 3D pool at retail is hardly a deep one, especially when it comes to the blockbuster marquee titles, all is not lost, and things are a lot better than they seem. What most 3D owners don’t take into account when they stare jealously at Avatar, or How To Train Your Dragon, is that these discs would likely not exist as all without these exclusivity deals. Whenever a new format like Blu-ray or DVD launches, you see the emails and posts all over by people who can’t understand why the studios don’t dump their big titles out immediately to get the format to grow. The lack of those titles is seen as the reason why the masses don’t run out and buy hardware immediately, and is “holding back Blu-ray/3D/HDTV etc.” While software availability is certainly a factor for the 10% of early adopters, the masses typically don’t notice what’s on the shelf till they already have the player in hand.

What holds back most buyers is price, and what holds back software is the number of buyers. Studios, like all corporations, are all about the quarterly report, and they want the big numbers. George Lucas won’t release Star Wars until he’s sure he’s selling 4-5 million copies the first week, Spielberg doesn’t let out Jaws for the same.

And Fox wasn’t going to put out Avatar either. Now here’s the good news. Those studios also know that titles like Avatar need to be out there in some form to drive hardware sales, especially in this economy. So they make a deal where they make a bunch of pure profit that looks good on the books (the buy-in fee), while giving the hardware manufacturer something to wave at their customers to separate them from the pack (the exclusive 3D eye candy). Based on past patterns, there was no way that DreamWorks Animation was going to release anything in 3D any time soon; heck, it took a $100 million “donation” by HD DVD to get them to start releasing in high definition at all, and this is where the good news comes in.

All of these deals have an expiration date, and when those dates expire, the studios are free to release these titles to retail as they would any other. The mere fact that they already have the disc sitting on a shelf ready to fire makes it exponentially more likely that they will be released to retail well before the movies come around for re-promotion in their respective rotations. Coraline 3D hit from Universal less than a week after their deal with Panasonic expired, and more exclusives will break ranks before the end of the year. So while I know how frustrating it is seeing that copy of Megamind tormenting you from the Samsung display, take heart that it’s not forever. Panasonic has already taken an important step offering Avatar to many of their 3D hardware customers, and it’s something that I think everyone can agree that Samsung should be trying to follow suit on (but may not be able to under existing deals). So keep in mind that these discs would not exist at all were it not for exclusivity, and that having people scalping them on eBay is better than nothing at all.

Via: [Home Cinema]

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