3D or Not 3D – Is the longevity of the third dimension on the wain?
The release of the Hobbit reignites the debate over 3D as a valid format, but is the longevity of the third dimension on the wain?
Despite setting a new December box office record and receiving mostly positive reviews, the return to Middle Earth has once again divided movie goers over the legitimacy of 3D movies. The use of a higher frame rate has caused some backlash, but director Peter Jackson is striving to make a better 3D experience and not a cheap tack on to increase ticket prices.
Last year whilst promoting their Tintin movie, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg commented on current 3D presentations.
Peter Jackson: “With the right movie, 3D can enhance the experience. Absolutely it can make a good film a great film and a great film a really amazing film to see and that’s what I hang on to. But certainly the projection brightness issue needs to be addressed.”
Steven Spielberg: “I am certainly hoping that 3D gets to a point where people do not notice it. Because once they stop noticing it, it just becomes another tool and helps tell a story. Then maybe they can make ticket prices comparable to a 2D movie and not charge such exorbitant prices just to gain entry into a 3D one, with the exception of IMAX – we are getting a premium experience in a premium environment.”
James Cameron’s Avatar was a visual and technical milestone in filmmaking, even if you weren’t a fan there’s no denying the impact it had on the movie industry. Back in 2004 it was Cameron’s work on Ghosts of the Abyss that pioneered this new camera system which was used to record the very first full length 3D IMAX film.
In 2010 3D started to show signs of decline, Shrek Forever After the first in the popular series to be presented in 3D was the lowest attended in the franchise. By no means a failure but the studio were clearly hoping to go out on a high note and 3D added little to entice audiences. This trend continued in 2011, several big summer sequels including Kung Fu Panda 2 and Pirates 4 suffered a steep decline in the US although improved on their respective predecessors at the international box office thanks to 3D.
This year was home to a record number of 3D misfires John Carter, Ghost Rider 2, Total Recall, Silent Hill 2 and Dredd all flopped at the box office, this suggests that our American cousins are beginning to lose interest and high ticket prices are putting people off.
If 3D was reserved for projects like The Hobbit, Tales of the Night, Avatar and the utterly stunning Life of Pi then perhaps there wouldn’t be such a stigma surrounding it. As it stands Hollywood is only just discovering the best use for 3D, audiences want more for their money than a sword poking out of the screen at them but modern 3D falls into two distinct categories.
There are those films that are shot using state of the art 3D cameras and the project has been purposely designed for it, then there are those that opt for a cost cutting conversion such as Clash of the Titans and it’s equally disappointing sequel. When big studios are willing to delay their releases to be converted into 3D it only perpetuates the notion that this is purely money driven rather than a more immersive experience.
G.I Joe Retaliation was just a couple of weeks away from release when shockingly the studio pulled it from the schedules. The advertising campaign was in full swing and this decision confirmed fears that the finished results were disappointing. Paramount sited the reason for delay was to undergo a post 3D conversion to give the movie the best possible box office appeal, this was later expanded to 6 weeks of reshoots to add more action and new scenes with Channing Tatum who had been rumoured to be killed off early in the movie.
Currently there are 13 movies to have grossed over $1 billion worldwide, of these 7 were in 3D and both Star Wars Episode 1 and Titanic were rereleased in 3D last year to great success. So far there are 25 3D movies scheduled for 2013, that’s a drop of almost 20% from 2012 whilst 3D is here for the forceable future we can only hope this is an indication that quality rather than quantity is finally being taken under advisement.
Since the resurgence of 3D most movie studios have been quick to get in on the action, so quick that they over-saturated the market before the technology was fully developed. What was once deemed a gimmick and only seen at theme parks is now a billion dollar industry, with the advent of D-Box cinema chairs that with its patterned Motion Code 4D is now on the rise, has the quest for a more immersive experience lost sight of what’s actually important?
The ongoing worldwide success of 3D movies indicates audiences still like it, but the days of 3D being a guaranteed hit simply by being in 3D are certainly number. All the major cinema chains still screen 2D versions so perhaps the two formats can peacefully coexist.
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