If you’re a movie exec, right now you’ve got a massive hard-on for 3D. The big business Monsters vs. Aliens did over the weekend (nearly $60m) is being touted as proof that the format is the salvation of the industry. The implication is clear: if people will pay a premium to see this shit in 3D, they’ll pay extra to see anything!
With theatre owner convention ShoWest in full swing in Las Vegas, talking heads are, predictably, boasting about the future of 3D. Jim Gianopulos, co-chair of Fox Filmed Entertainment, claimed that more 3D screens could add $1 billion in revenue, so theatre owners shouldn’t delay in adding them. Variety relates that Jeffrey Katzenberg, 3D’s loudest cheerleader, talked up the line of credit that will soon be available to help big chains get screens into their auditoriums.
This enthusiasm from execs only helps fuel my suspicious attitude towards 3D. In a commentary piece today (I can’t remember who, but if I remember I’ll link it) another writer reiterated the points that we’ve argued here before, that any of the studio enthusiasm towards the format that claims to be for the sake of storytelling is bullshit. 3D justifies higher ticket prices, and the anti-piracy angle is a nice bonus. You’re already paying two to three dollars more per ticket for 3D. Katzenberg is pushing for a $5 premium.
Katzenberg has also discussed a future in which 3D glasses will be a personalized, boutique item. Fox likes that approach, too, inasmuch as it wouldn’t put the financial burden of providing glasses on the studio. THR says that “Fox has quietly begun alerting exhibitors not to expect any payments for costs associated with the use of special glasses when its 3-D pics play in digital auditoriums.” Hey, it’s Fox, right? Big surprise. But if theaters have to pay for glasses, that means you’ll pay for them — really, we’re paying regardless, but this isn’t an argument that exhibitors and other studios are going to like.
I was in the minority when arguing that Coraline might be better in 2D than 3D, despite the intentions of director Henry Selick. I’d say the acceptance of 3D had more to do with the quality of the film than the 3D. Coraline was, I think, the first non-documentary 3D feature to be any good as a movie. Until we see a feature that genuinely puts the format to work as a narrative device, in the same way that lighting, sound and mise en scene are used, I’ll continue to look at it sideways.
And the 3D hype machine rolls on. James Cameron’s Avatar may not be at ShoWest, but Disney/Pixar are, and some are already trumpeting the revelation of Tron 2.0 footage in 3D. (Or maybe the title is just Tron, according to /Film.) Over at Collider, Frosty enthuses “…it absolutely blew me away. If you’re a fan of the original “Tron”, this sequel looks so amazing you are going to freak out when you see it in 3-D. Seriously. It will rock your world. This was easily the best thing I saw at the convention and I don’t know what else is going to come close.”