3-D's Likely Future
It might surprise many of you, being a part of the movie theatre industry, but I am very much against 3-D, especially its complete overuse that Avatar basically ushered in 2009, having studios scramble to convert their 2-D product to 3-D for the extra buck.
I've been seeing some terrific railing against 3-D on Ebert's site, which currently has a link to this letter from master editor/sound mixer Walter Murch. Murch knows a thing or two about film, and he approaches the argument against 3-D scientifically.
Back in the early stages of the rebirth of 3-D, the films that were coming out, like Meet the Robinsons, were easily outgrossing their 2-D counterparts (percentage-wise). It was a novelty, and people were willing to shell out some extra dollars to see something new. But now, everything that gets the 3-D treatment seems to feel the need to show it off in some way. 3-D really only works when it comes to showing depth. It really doesn't work at all when "things are flying out of the screen at you." The effect is almost always bad, since the image coming off the screen has an unusual termination, and the effect is lost.
2010 was littered with 3-D content, but it's just a sampling of what you're going to see in 2011. Almost every tentpole release this summer will be available in 3-D:
May 6: Thor
May 13: Priest
May 20: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
May 27: Kung Fu Panda 2
June 17: Green Lantern
June 24: Cars 2
July 1: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
July 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
July 22: Captain America: The First Avenger
August 3: The Smurfs
August 19: Fright Night and Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World
August 26: Final Destination 5
And that's forgetting many of these movies are long-in-the-tooth sequels, 3-D or not.
The problem with this slate is that most of these movies would do good or great business without the 3-D premium. And once these movies hit and make their money, it's going to be "proof positive that 3-D is viable," because the studios are going to see the grosses and believe that the ends justify the means. Over the past year, I've seen a noticeable change in family film-going where the 2-D version of a movie is favored over the 3-D. Never so much as with Tangled, a movie that is approaching $200 million, and obviously didn't need 3-D to be profitable.
As always, the consumer has the power to stop, or at least slow, the number of 3-D films they are shoving down your throat. Most of these will have 2-D brothers, but really, avoiding a movie altogether if you can help it will send the message.