'Avatar' Alights on DVD -- and the Internet

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Have you been all blue in the face waiting for the Avatar DVD? The biggest-grossing film in history drops on Blu-ray and DVD on Thursday.

For all the intergalactic hype about 3D in the space odyssey ginned up for the theatrical release, the initial DVD releases will be available only in ordinary old 2D.

Maybe we should stop calling them “DVD” release dates, though.

Vudu — the Internet-streaming service now owned by Wal-Mart Stores — is offering Avatar in HD for sale day-and-date with the DVD release, so customers potentially could have started watching it shortly after midnight Eastern Time.

But Vudu’s not offering a price break. Avatar currently is available only for purchase on the service, for $19.99 (SD) and $24.99 (HD) — that’s more than the regular DVD ($15.99 at Amazon.com) and the Blu-ray release ($19.99 at Amazon.com). The 24-hour rental of Avatar will be available in 17 days, on Sunday, May 9, at $3.99 (SD), $4.99 (HD) and $5.99 (HDX, Vudu’s Blu-ray-quality format).

Other streaming services such as CinemaNow and Amazon.com will have Avatar in SD but not in HD, while Sony PlayStation 3 users can get the blockbuster in HD in download-to-own format.

Netflix subscribers, meanwhile, won’t be able to get their hands on the Avatar DVD until May 20, under the deal it recently negotiated with 20th Century Fox (see Netflix Agrees To 28-Day DVD Embargo With Universal, Twentieth Century Fox).

Blockbuster, for its part, is offering the movie on blockbuster.com — in download-to-own format — at its stores, via its rent-by-mail service and through Blockbuster On Demand. To “celebrate the release” of Avatar Thursday, Blockbuster stores “will transform into Avatar headquarters featuring a look-a-like contest, seven-foot-tall standee character posters, lenticular stickers and glow-in-the-dark movie window posters.”

Blockbuster also is running a promo to have customers visit a store “dressed as their favorite Na’vi character and take a picture in front of the seven-foot-tall standee or glow-in-the dark poster,” then submit the pictures via Flickr for a chance to win a $250 prize package.

Damn — I just ran out of cobalt-blue body paint.

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