Electronics makers offer incentives to sell sets

As they gear up to roll out the first sets of 3D TVs into stores, electronics makers have turned to Hollywood to help get the hardware into homes.

Panasonic has paired up with Fox to give away the 3D Blu-ray edition of “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” as an incentive to buy its TVs and Blu-ray players, while Samsung will provide free copies of DreamWorks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens,” followed by the “Shrek” films. Sony had already been touting its own 3D-at-home technology with “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

Companies hope that providing consumers with something they can instantly watch on new 3D TVs and Blu-ray players will entice them to pony up the thousands of dollars to buy the hardware.

Panasonic started selling its 3D TVs at Best Buy’s store in New York’s Union Square on Wednesday, bundling a 50-inch plasma TV, one pair of glasses and a 3D Blu-ray player for $2,900. The glasses alone cost $150, while the 3D TV is $2,500.

Fox won’t start offering “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” to Panasonic customers until April. Pic will be its first 3D release on Blu-ray. It has not yet set a release date for the 3D homevid version of “Avatar.”

Meanwhile the 3D Blu-ray version of “Monsters vs. Aliens” will be bundled with Samsung Electronics’ 46-inch set, two pairs of glasses and a 3D Blu-ray player for $3,000, also starting this week.

As a promotional tool, Samsung will have an exclusive on the 3D Blu-ray versions of all four “Shrek” movies later this year for a full year, while regular versions of the Blu-rays will be available through all retailers.

Rivals LG Electronics will introduce its 3D TVs in stores in May, while Sony will bow its hardware in June, and Vizio in August. The TV sets will be able to switch between 3D and regular 2D.

Partnerships between electronics makers and Hollywood aren’t unusual. Bundles of movies with hardware was common when DVD and Blu-ray was introduced, to get consumers to adopt the homevid formats.

Fox had already been working with Panasonic to promote movies, including “Avatar,” while DreamWorks Animation has long paired up with high-tech brands to promote its toons.

As studios release more movies in 3D in theaters, their homevideo divisions are hoping that the sale of 3D TVs will take off and help sell higher-priced 3D Blu-rays, as well, significantly boosting profit margins.

It’s expected that owners of 3D TVs will seek out other movies to view, and the bundles will remind them of other titles that are worthy of slipping on a pair of 3D glasses.

“There may be a couple of times that are considered game changers in the industry and this is that moment for home entertainment,” said Mary Daily, executive VP of marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “Over the last year we have seen 3D invigorate the theatrical experience and it will do the same for the living room.”

Naturally, it helps that customers are already fans of the movies being offered.

“Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” for example, was a monster hit for Fox, scaring up nearly $2 billion at the worldwide B.O., and moving more than 75 million units on all homevid formats.

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