Wednesday, 31 March 2010

BTP 7: 3D Or Not 3D?

We at Beside The Point have been living in 3D for around nine years now and while it is nice to see movies finally catching up we want to know, are 3D films just another fad? Are they going too far? Or are they on the verge of becoming the industry standard? And further more, when will they finally make a film of everyone's favourite blog...Beside The Point 3D!

Unless you have been spending an unusual amount of time in the 19th century you can't help but notice that 3D films seem to be everywhere these days -well in movie theatres mostly, but one thing is certain: 3D films are getting a lot of attention. And it's not just from the slightly over-weight likes of you and me that are garnering such attention over 3D films, the film industry has seemingly found the “next big thing” in cinema. This was confirmed recently by Warner Bros' announcement that all tentpole films will be released in 3D.
According to, Warner Bros intend to release five 3D films in 2010 and nine in 2011. I can only assume that production for 2012 has been halted pending the apocalypse...
Also, Todd Phillips is currently writing the script for The Hangover 2 and has hinted that the film will probably be filmed in 3D as part of the industry's transition to 3D as standard. According to MarketSaw Phillips agrees that “soon everything will be shot in 3D” and likens it to the transition from black and white to colour. He also goes on to say that in relation to The Hangover 2 that the key lies in “restraint”. He references how James Cameron's Avatar was "not about poking you in the eye but instead it was pulling you in." It seems 3D is indeed on the march...
But is this really a good thing? At the most basic personal level these films cost us more to see, so we have to ask is it worth the extra cash? After all, it costs a fair penny to pay for the ticket, popcorn and soda and at most you get three hours of entertainment. So why do we do it in the first place? Entertainment obviously, so on the face of 3D can only be a good thing -if it enhances the movie experience. Now that's a big if.
Let's go back to the beginning. According to the bible that is Wikipedia, 3D films have existed in some form since 1890. So they're not what you'd call a new idea. In fact my first (and favourite) 3D experience was the Terminator 2-3D, Battle Across Time that I saw in Universal Studios, Florida. Now, this was opened in 1996, that's 14 years ago, yet we're only now seeing a real push of 3D films. Why is this? Is it a technology thing or is it simply a cash thing?
Think about it, when you take a filming style that has existed for a long time but costs a little more to produce why not implement it and charge a little more, or simply rely on wow-factor to boost sales? Probably because many films simply don't need to be shot in 3D. Look at Burton's Alice In Wonderland, it made a killing when it premièred in 3D ( $116.1 million on it's opening weekend) but I have yet to speak to anyone who feels the film gained much for being in 3D. And as for The Hangover -what could they possibly do? Projectile vomit anyone?
I don't buy the argument that 3D was not pushed early because of technological restraints, nor do I accept any artistic reason for every major film to be released in 3D. This isn't like the introduction of talkies or colour where the benefits are obvious, this is about paying extra for a little depth perception and some ridiculous glasses. And to be honest, the experience leaves me feeling a little flat.
I know that Hollywood as taken a kicking of late, piracy and the recession have taken their toll, but is pushing a fad like 3D really going to make such a difference? Don't get me wrong, sometimes 3D can and does enhance films, but the danger is that once people get fed up with paying to see films in 3D that didn't need the three dimensional treatment that they simply opt to go to the movies and watch standard viewings leaving 3D dead in the water. Which could prove to be a costly mistake for Hollywood. Perhaps the key to success here really is restraint.
Drew discovered the third dimension in 1914. It was in a basket beside some books.

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