‘Avatar’ DVD Could Feature An Extended Cut Of The Movie, Plus ’15 Minutes Or So’ Of Unfinished Scenes

There’s no way around it. “Avatar” is going to get multiple home video releases. It’s just a fact. Big movies typically get a barebones release followed by a special edition and sometimes even another special edition, especially if there’s a director’s cut or some holiday to peg it to. “Avatar” adds a new wrinkle thanks to the 3-D angle and the still-new 3-D home display technologies. So get used to the idea now: if you’re an “Avatar” junkie, you’re going to be buying it more than once and probably more than twice.

We’ve already heard from News Corp. top dog Rupert Murdoch that an “Avatar” DVD — barebones, of course — will hopefully arrive in stores before June 30, with a special edition and/or 3-D release to follow sometime after that. When MTV’s Josh Horowitz spoke with director James Cameron yesterday, the first question he had was “When?”

“It exists! It’s coming!” he said of the for-home 3-D technology, explaining that we’ll start to see them as soon as next month, with more coming before the end of 2010. “By third and fourth quarter of this year, you can get a 3-D set if you want to.”

Cameron then went on to talk specific release plans. “We’re going to put ’Avatar’ out probably in November on 3-D — barebones, just the movie — and then we’ll follow up with some kind of special edition 3-D [release] later down the line.”

While he did not specify exactly what qualifies as “barebones,” he did admit that there’s a ton of bonus material. Josh has even seen some of it, “Way more than you ever wanted to see, I’m sure,” Cameron said with a smile. More than behind-the-scenes footage too; there’s material that just never made it into the movie, some of it abandoned so early in the process that it was never completed. Don’t expect to see any of that material integrated into a director’s cut… but expect to see it somehow.

“The unfinished scenes look like a cheesy video game,” Cameron explained. “There are the performances; you can really see what the scene would have been, but it doesn’t have that magical realism of the finished film. So to put those scenes in without finishing them… will be for fans. For real fans who want to know more about the characters and so on.”

What does that mean for an extended edition sort of release? “It’s not going to be a casual viewing experience of a longer film,” Cameron said. “We can probably put in maybe another five or six minutes that was finished, final finished. And we can put in 15 minutes or so of those other scenes that were never finished, that were taken out relatively early in the life cycle of the cut. So we’ll look at programmable branching technology to see what experiences we can give people on the DVD.”

How many “Avatar” home video releases do you think we’ll see when all is said and done?