That Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World trailer would have me sold if I wasn’t already on the boat. And as Chef once said, “never get off the boat.” I’ve watched it more times than I care to count, if seven was more than I cared to count.


I don’t know if there’s a polite way to feel about the forced ticket price increase for 3-D other than contempt.

There are a number of reasons this is happening, with the least negative possiblity being that theater owners are having to pick up the tab for more projectors, which is generally a very marginal part of cost of operations. Most projectors run long lives, most theaters are on a platter system and have been using the same projectors they’ve had for years and years. Though studios may have sweetened the pot some, like any technology that doesn’t have a great number of sales in any given year, it’s likely that having to adopt to this new technology is a losing proposition for many owners and the across-the-board price-hike makes this technology affordable in the short term. Who’s to say how long this hike will last, and for the next couple months with a number of big titles in 3-D (specifically Toy Story 3 and Shrek 4), parents will be left feeling as many people have right before the sex act – you’re already naked and drunk, so why not consummate even if it is a bad idea? This can’t engender good feelings, but if the prices drop by the end of the year, then it may be water under the bridge.

There’s another slightly positive possibility, which is that the theaters are trying to drive down demand for 3-D. Again, if they don’t adopt projectors, if they can’t convert everything, then annoying the audience by forcing them to pay exorbitantly more will drive them away. Alice in Wonderland is – by all accounts – at best not terrible. Few are doing 3-D like Cameron did, in that it’s often an afterthought (read: Clash of the Titans). If you can get an audience to reject 3-D, then you don’t have to evolve to make room for it. And for many on the creative and exhibitor side of things, ending the trend would not be the worst thing in the world. Having seen a number of the bigger 3-D films in the 2-D format – like Up – the films speak for themselves, and as the round-table of geeks I was with last night can attest, even those who liked Avatar can’t imagine watching it at home with any great enthusiasm. The film was the experience.

The ultimate negative is the cash-grab factor, which may be at the heart of this. Even if the experience is less-than, if the film is 3-D some people will pay more, and though the films themselves may benefit only marginally – if at all – from such a process, enough may pay more for the “true experience.” But when the economy is in the shitter and a great deal of the country is unemployed, adding an extra 10 to 20% to a ticket price means that even if people go, they may not buy snacks at the counter, which will effect the bottom line in different ways. The absolute worst is the idea that this is an united effort from both distributors and exhibitors thinking that raising costs during a recession/depression is a way to make more money, when it may just as likely be alienating. Cinema is still the greatest common denominator, the one art form that has national coverage in a way that even network television no longer has. That said, the movies are segmented in a way it never has before and by further restricting access and interest, by alienating the audience you do have through a series of films that don’t deserve to paid for at such a level, well, it will speed up the process of killing the blockbuster the studios have spent the last thirty-five years perfecting.

The problem is that they are running out of material that is safe and easy, and though the rebooting and everything can and might work, we’re a short and curly hair away from a studio making the box office equal of a Xanadu or Star! Though the box office suggests that people are happy to have formulaic pictues that err on the side of predictable, there will be a breaking point, and even if a film like Iron Man was a fairly routine piece bolstered by a great Robert Downey Jr. performance (much as Pirates had its great Depp) we will shortly see at least one of these rather expensive, rather stupid films fall on its face because there won’t be that thing, that frission. Advertising is only so smart, and even a good film might come, but with an audience wary of a studio system looking to exploit them, they may feel they have to stay away – even from something they may want. Fads run their course, and you can’t recreate Harry Potter, as a number have films have suggested.

There’s a vocal contingent against this move to 3-D, and – to be fair – it hasn’t infected everything yet, and a number of the films that may be 3-D may not get converted after the fact if this dies. We shall see.


Regardless of the box office fuckwithery, How to Train Your Dragon opens. So does Hot Tub Time Machine, but MGM is so interesting.

1. How to Train Your Shagin’ Wagon - $44.3 Million
2. James Brown‘s Celebrity Hot Tub – $21.5 Million
3. Alice in Leather - $15.5 Million
4. Diary of Anne Wimpy Kid – $13 Million
5. The Bounty Freshness Hunter – $9.8 Million

And then Sunday I’ll get in the water. If it’s hot.