Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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.

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At 1/27/2011 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Other than having to spend the extra 3 bucks or whatever it is, my biggest problem with 3D is that I already wear glasses and having to put another pair of glasses on top of those is just flat out annoying. This is one big reason I will probably never purchase a 3D television.

And I can't think of a single film that has really benefited from the process. The really good movies like "How to Train Your Dragon" or "Toy Story 3" would have been just as good without the added dimension. I think non-3D DVD sales can attest to that as well. And even the goofy horror movies like Piranha and My Bloody Valentine would have been just as fun or crappy (depending on your taste) either way.

But I guess it's not going anywhere anytime soon. The only major director that seems completely opposed to it is Christopher Nolan; I was even starting to gain some respect for Michael Bay when he came out against it, but obviously that didn't last too long since the next Transformers movie is being shot that way. Oh well; yet another reason to support the hell out of whatever Christopher Nolan decides to direct or produce in the future.


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