Panasonic Bets the Bank: Avatar, Future of Cinema, to Be Future of 3D TV

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Once upon a time, back in the glory days of Hollywood’s studio system, vertical integration was the key. If a studio made a film, you could probably only see that movie in their theaters. From the ground up, until the Supreme Court struck it all down of course, the studios tried to perfect an insulated little system that they could control all the way down to the projection booth.

One gets a whiff of that sort of studio system micro-management with today’s news that, when 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment releases a 3D Blu-ray disc of Avatar in December, the only consumers who will be able to buy the item are those who will also shell out for a Panasonic 3D Viera plasma TV. (Check out where Pandora ranks on our list of the all-time best sci-fi planets)

For an undefined period of time, this will be the only platform through which you can see Avatar – the only must-see-in-3D experience – the way it was always intended to be seen. Which is kind of a cheap marketing tactic, if you ask me – reflecting just how desperate 3D TV manufacturers are to convince consumer that this is product worth upgrading to.

As for my take on all this, I have to be honest: My viewing of the Avatar Special Edition a couple weeks ago reminded me of just how groundbreaking this 3D achievement truly is. It’s 3D that’s light years ahead of any other 3D film. And Cameron did deliver on his promise to change cinema, offering up the proof as to what might be possible from a 3D-minded industry. But I’m not buying a new TV just for a movie, for any movie, and now Fox has taken a DVD launch that should be celebrated – as the first-ever must-own 3D Blu-ray – and made it a distasteful little marketing ploy.

I anticipate weak sales for both.

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