Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Force-Feeding of 3D Movies in Hollywood

I remember way back when Jaws 3D came out. It was a huge deal to be able to go see a movie in 3D in the theater. I believe I went with my Dad to see it at age 8 in 1983. Sure it was a crappy movie, but the 3D novelty was kinda cool. Since then I experienced 3D at other times in my life with Captain EO at Disney World, the lame 3D Super Bowl XXIII halftime show and other multi-dimensional gimmicks. As the novelty wore off I finally came to realize that 3D is just plain annoying.

We are now seeing a huge push by Hollywood to bring 3D back and make it better than ever. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 4 or 5 movies that are planning to be released in 3D this year including Clash of the Titans and Toy Story 3. The final two Harry Potter movies and even The Hobbit are being rumored to be under production in 3D. Basically, the 3D freight train is coming down the tracks whether you want to experience it or not. A studio can make a piss-poor movie and release it with the tag line "presented in amazing digital 3d!" and instantly they expect you to stop in your tracks and make plans to see it. And it won't stop with the movie theater. Companies are already lining up to mass produce 3D televisions so you won't need to waste a trip to the movies to use your goofy 3D glasses.

What's surprising here is that I don't believe Hollywood and the entertainment industry really care if we WANT 3D or not. Personally I could do without it. I recently saw Bolt, Cloudy w/ Meatballs and of course Avatar in 3D. The first two were not memorable for being 3D films. Avatar on the other hand is an anomaly, a really GOOD 3D movie that makes the 3D illusion work with the story and therefore immersing the viewer in another world. James Cameron used 3D to enhance a movie rather than just using it for a sideshow/gimmick effect. As far I'm concerned, Cameron can keep on making his 3D movies as the technology is in very good hands with him at the helm.

It's the other 90% of 3D drivel that I'm worried about. Avatar was an exception, but most 3D movies look much worse in 3D. The picture quality is just not as crisp and clean. I find myself fidgeting with my glasses too much during the movie. I'd just prefer a nice 2D representation of the film that doesn't try to push objects into my face for a "wow" factor. We all know WHY these media companies are pushing an outdated technology on us though. To make more money. The primary reason Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie made 116 million last weekend is that people were paying outrageous $12-plus 3D ticket prices. You're looking at more of a 70-80 million opening if the movie was released in 2D only. Television companies want you to shelve the new HDTV you bought a few years ago and upgrade to a 3D model. With the re-immersion of 3D, what's old is new again and unfortunately most of consumer America is going to eat it up.

I'm hoping 3D is a fad and we see a fall-off of 3D releases after 2 or 3 years. The only real positive I can see in 3D programming is 3D sporting events. Seeing depth of field in football, baseball and other sports would be phenomenal. That may eventually be the one driving factor that causes me to get a 3D TV. I'll certainly wait at least 4-5 years to do so and I won't be watching any movies in 3D at home (unless it's Avatar 2). I'm interested to hear what other people think about 3D technology. Do you get more excited about seeing a movie if it's going to be released in 3D? Do you suffer from glasses fidgetous syndrome as well?


Puneet said...

3D movies are particularly difficult for those of us who already wear glasses. Do you know how completely awkward and uncomfortable it is to watch a movie with two pairs of glasses on? I hate having one pair on, let alone another pair that is bigger, bulkier AND MAKES THE MOVIE LOOK WORSE.

It's like Hollywood is saying, we're gonna kick you in the balls. But wait, there's more: we're going to charge you more for it! No thank you.

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