Ah, the dreaded 'double dip'. Friend to no one but studio bean counters and enemy to movie fans everywhere. We all know the drill by now; if a studio can release a film on DVD/Blu-ray more than once, they absolutely will. They'll stockpile bonus content and then dole it out over the years under the guise of various Special Editions and Collectors Editions and Special Collectors Editions. It's not exactly a scummy, nefarious racket they're running, but I do feel bad for those who don't compulsively read DVD news who pick up a barebones new release and then later find out that a vastly superior product to the one they've just purchased will be available a few months down the road.

I'm sure it's been obvious to all, but consider this a final heads up; Fox will be dipping back into Avatar fanbase as often as they can and here's a re-cap of what to expect from their current timeline (info compiled from THR and SCI FI Wire's coverage of the recent Avatar junket):

April 22, 2010, Initial Avatar DVD and Blu-ray release.
There are no on-disc special features planned and 2D only, no matter the medium. The disc won't even have trailers on it so as to leave as much space available as possible for picture quality. The Blu-ray, however, will have access to a BD Live site with some online special features, though producer Jon Landau warns, "I think it's more of a tease to what is coming in the fall."

Summer 2010, Possible Avatar Extended Edition Theatrical Re-release.

Fox has not locked down plans to bring a longer Avatar back to theaters this summer, though they are being quite vocal about their hopes to do so. The main challenge (other than how many 3D theaters will be available and IMAX's max run time cap for film material) will be whether or not they can reinstate a few deleted scenes seamlessly. If so, one of the sequences Cameron is considering for insertion is an extended cut of the love scene that includes the original shot of Jake and Neytiri bonding their braids. Even then it may not make the cut, as Cameron admits the reason they dropped it the first time is because, "people were freaked out by it."

November 2010, Avatar 4-Disc Special Edition.

It's unclear what they'll end up calling the final release of the first Avatar retail double dip, but for now we can just call it the Special Edition as this will be the first DVD/Blu-ray set to contain substantial (offline) bonus features. There will certainly be plenty of robust making-of features spread across the four discs (several in the picture-in-picture style Blu-ray does so well), but as for deleted scenes we know that it will at least include the four-and-a-half-minute long original opening to the film that found Jake getting into a bar fight back on Earth.

However this scene, and ones like it, will not be cut back into the feature film, but will be viewable as standalone content as per Cameron's admirable philosophy toward what makes a director's cut, "You do make decisions as you go along, and some of those decisions should be irrevocable. Other decisions, maybe based more on running time or pace, it's okay to reinsert some things. It doesn't change the major kind of transition moments of a movie."

The Not Too Distant Future, Avatar 3D Blu-ray.
As has long been known, both the April release and the undated, 4-disc November release will not feature Avatar in 3D. Cameron and co. do not believe that there is enough market penetration for stereoscopic 3D at home and they refuse (as well they should) to release the film in 3D using the inferior anagylph (the red/blue glasses) tech that is the current bane of 3D at home. They have the utmost confidence that one day they will be able to release a 3D Avatar Blu-ray, but it'll be some time in 2011 at the earliest.