Fortune has declared the 3-D film craze “already dying” and in the hands of Hollywood it deserves to. We get a 3-D masterpiece in James Cameron’s AVATAR last year. A film conceived from the ground up to be shot and projected in 3-D and everyone in Hollywood tries to jump on the bandwagon. The problem is that they aren’t James Cameron and they are trying to shoehorn films into 3D that never should be there or (in their greatest crime against film) convert 2-D films into 3-D.
Roger Ebert published a piece in Newsweek in May of 2010 called “Why I hate 3-D (And You Should Too)” in which he calls “Hollywood’s current crazy stampede toward it” suicidal and that “It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience.”
He goes on to mention that he thinks the craze is a way to sell much more expensive projection systems and add an extra $4 to $7 to the ticket price. That last part is probably more right then anything.
Last year at an exhibitor “3D Summit” it was reported that Dreamworks head Jeffrey Katzenberg told the exhibitors there that they could (sarcastically paraphrasing) Slap another five bucks on top of the ticket price for 3D, they’ll pay it. There is no resistance.
The Variety article quotes him in follow up to that statement saying:
“I find it curious how slow the live-action business has been in jumping on this opportunity,” said the DreamWorks Animation topper, a longtime evangelist for the stereoscopic 3D (S3D) format. “In a business where margins are sinking like a stone in water, suddenly something comes along that for a small incremental investment you create huge incremental income possibilities for you. Why every studio isn’t out making three, four, five 3D movies is inexplicable.”
This is the usual Hollywood thinking that is keeping the theaters full of remakes of old television shows, sequels to films that never should have sequels and films that were never meant to be in 3-D converted to 3-D to cash in.
Look at the mess that Last Airbender was. (we covered the fact that Last Airbender is the worst reviewed film of 2010 so far) and most people seem to be saying that the film wasn’t good to start with but the poor 3-D conversion didn’t do it any favors.
3-D conversion is the kiss of death as well it should be. Every single film that has come out that had been converted to 3-D has been savaged for the quality of the 3-D. It’s not going to work.
Is 3-D dead? Well, if they keep letting people make insane decisions like converting the remake of GREEN HORNET into 3-D it sure as hell is. (come on, who green lit a Green Hornet film starring Seth Rogan? Huh? Just burn your money on the front lawn of the studio and save your kharma, baby.)
BUT there is hope. The hope of 3-D is in films like TRON LEGACY, which from everything I’ve heard and read was conceived and shot from day one in 3-D. If you haven’t seen the trailer, check it out here: TRON LEGACY – TRAILER #2
If you make a film in 3-D that isn’t some attempt to cash in but to use the technology to enhance and be part of the film experience (as Cameron’s AVATAR did) it could be fantastic for the audience. If you do stupid crap like throw things at the screen in badly converted 3-D people will only fall for it once and there goes 3-D.
A great, and hope-inspiring, ending to the Fortune article tells that the american film goers are starting to reject the craze:
Most interesting, according to Greenfield, is that in some cases movies with a wider release on 3-D screens are doing worse in terms of 3-D revenue than those that had more limited 3-D screen penetration. Shrek Forever After, for instance, brought in a smaller percentage of revenue from 3-D screens than How to Train a Dragon, despite being released on about 200 more 3-D screens. A “greater percentage of consumers simply opted to see the film in 2-D,” he wrote in a May post on BTIG’s blog, adding: “The last thing the industry needs is consumers starting to believe that 3-D is simply ‘not worth it.'”
“believe that 3-D is simply ‘not worth it'”? Perhaps it’s a case of the films themselves not being worth but as long as Hollywood is doing ridiculous things like converting Green Hornet to 3-D I can’t see how people won’t think it is just not worth it.