Is 'Avatar' really eco-friendly?
It's Earth Day. And if you buy into the hype surrounding the DVD debut of "Avatar" -- in stores today, in case you somehow missed one of the splashy television ads promoting that fact -- this is the perfect time to release the biggest multi-dimensional blockbuster ever made, since it focuses on protecting our environment from big, bad corporations who want to exploit it for financial gain.
Director James Cameron, in fact, was on Capitol Hill just last week, talking about how his movie is "a call to action" for those who care about protecting our planet. Or, you know, Pandora's. I have no problem with Cameron using the film as a platform for discussing these issues. Kudos to him for doing it. Here's where I do have a problem, though.
Today's release of "Avatar," on both DVD and Blu-ray in 2D and with no extras, is only the first of three versions slated to hit the marketplace within the next year. In November, just in time for the holidays, another "Avatar" set will be released, with extras. And then, when the technology is ready, Cameron estimates that a 3D version of "Avatar" will be available for home viewing sometime in 2011. Which forces me to ask the question: Which part of releasing a movie three different times on DVD -- complete with three times the plastic wrap and three times the packaging -- is good for our environment?
Cameron tells Entertainment Weekly that the extras had to wait until a later release because they include deleted CGI scenes that needed proper visual polish before they could be suitable for viewing. (You also can see them in August, apparently, when "Avatar" gets re-released in theaters.) Some consumers may find this triple-dip approach annoying simply because -- as with so many other DVDs that go the same route -- it's a pretty blatant attempt to snooker people into buying the same movie more than once.
I'm not a huge fan of the practice, but hey, it's business. If "Avatar" fans don't want to buy it three times, they don't have to, assuming, of course, they're even aware that it's getting multiple re-releases, which is a separate conversation.
I just find it richly ironic that a movie held up as a shining example of eco-consciousness is, essentially, dumping more stuff than necessary into the environment. If I were Fox -- and I think we've established pretty clearly that I'm not, but role-play with me for a second -- I would at least package these DVDs in some sort of eco-friendly, recyclable material. When Paramount released "An Inconvenient Truth" a few years ago, they eschewed the usual plastic jewel case, and instead encased the DVD in a barebones, cardboard wrapper made from 100-percent post-consumer-waste, recycled material. If Fox is going to release additional incarnations of "Avatar," the studio should follow "Truth's" lead. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's also consistent P.R. Yes, green DVD packaging does cost more. But surely the most lucrative movie ever made can afford it, right?
What do you think? Do the multiple releases of "Avatar" bug you on this sustainable-substance-oriented Earth Day? Or am I getting a little too Al Gore here?
| April 22, 2010; 10:47 AM ET
Categories: Movies, Pop Culture | Tags: DVDs, Movies
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