3-D Mania: Awesome or a waste of time?

An article in the New York Times this morning suggests that the abundance of 3-D movies being released is ruining the lives of massive movie studios.  That is, unless you’re the studio raking in billions from Avatar, which is  is clogging up the few available American 3-D screens and still selling out the Imax 3-D and many other theatres in Toronto after 6 weeks.

Disney is afraid that they won’t be able to get Alice in Wonderland into pricier Imax and 3-D theatres if Avatar continues to perform as well as it has.

Warner “has just decided to convert” Clash of the Titans to 3-D to cash in on the mania. So despite their lame logic, they have good reason to be scared.

Avatar aside, there are 60 movies that are set to be released in 3-D over the next three years.

But I have to wonder, is all this 3-D is necessary?

I have seen four 3-D movies in my life (not counting Amity Ville Horror 3D that I rented sans the glasses in high school): Harry Potter (for 20 minutes at the end) Coraline, Up, and Avatar.  In all four cases it was neat, but certainly not necessary.

I barely noticed the 3-D in Coraline (and at times it was disorienting).  The images floating off the screen were neat in Up, but the dialogue and plot are what made the movie great.  The brief addition of 3-D for the final battle in Harry Potter scared the crap out of me (dragons and bad guys up in my face) and was definitely worth the extra cash, but wouldn’t have been nearly as effective had it been for the whole film. And then there is Avatar.

Avatar was a terrible screenplay covered up by a breathtaking film.  The jungle of Pandora, with it’s glowing foliage and jellyfish-like trees, is the setting of one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.  3D made it cool, but the motion capturing technology that made a digital Sigourney Weaver so very realistic was the awesome part.

3-D technology used to be special.  Now it’s everywhere.  It costs more, in many cases it doesn’t make that much of a difference, and theatres can’t handle it.  People like it – but I don’t think they’d notice if it weren’t available.

Audiences aren’t exactly known for their discerning tastes, and what sells is what drives decision making. But maybe some of this wasted money could be spent on something better — whether it be other new forms of technology to keep movies evolving, or good movies that could use some mainstream attention. Afterall, audiences will bite on anything if enough money is thrown behind it.


4 thoughts on “3-D Mania: Awesome or a waste of time?

  1. I see your point, and I’m not convinced that I would have been missing a great experience if they hadn’t been in 3D… But at the same time, I suspect people said the same thing about colour. Or talkies.

    As you say, the studios could invest the money in “technology to keep movies evolving”… but perhaps 3D IS that technology. Not the final product, but a step along the way. If you compare Coraline to Up to Avatar, the technology has been used more effectively, more naturalistically, to add to the films; maybe the next step, or the one after that, gets it all right.

    Or maybe you just get another Amityville 3D.

  2. I think 3-D is bar none a gimmick. What happens when these flicks go to BluRay – I’ve seen My Bloody Valentine in theatres and on my HD Screen…it doesn’t work the same way. In theatres it was terrific, but once it gets to home video, the appeal is toast.

    I find 3-D absolutely unnecessary and actually dulls the colours that I intended to be dazzled by in Avatar. And although I did not like the film (and continue to like it less and less as it’s popularity grows [seriously people, wtf – the characters sucked]) I would have loved to see High Res colours on a digital screen – but no, I got to see a 3-D version of Pandura. Blow me.

    I’ll see any horror film in 3-D (with the exception of another Saw flick [again, wtf people]) because I know there’s a point to the 3-D.

    Great post Lizz, keep writing and thanks so much for this topic!

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