3D Movies Run Amok: A Fad That Should Stop… But Won’t

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:27 pm,

For the same reason people who are selling their homes spend $1,000 on new landscaping: To pretty them up. The upfront cost to them is very little in the initial investment and they can recoup it tenfold. It’s simple math really.

3d cameras and audience 3D Movies Run Amok: A Fad That Should Stop... But Wont

The typical conversion process costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 – $500,000. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overinflated multi-million dollar budgets the major films are getting. For their investment, studios can expect to see anywhere from 30- 50% increase in box office sales because of the additional cost for the “privilege” of watching the film in 3D. Studios know that not everyone is going to do their research on the technology and figure out that it is a scam, so they can be assured that opening weekend will have much higher numbers from people trying out the 3D “experience.”

In essence, a film can sell fewer tickets and still turn a profit because of the additional cost the other suckers theater goers are paying. It would be a financially dumb decision for them NOT to convert their films into 3D. The average cost of a standard 2D movie ticket rose in 2009 to $7.20 – I’d like to know where I can see a movie for that price – but the cost of seeing a film in 3D is a flat $3 extra regardless of the theater you go to.  That’s a modest 42% additional cost to each moviegoer to just wear a pair of oversized glasses and experience the ILLUSION of 3D.

That’s right, I said ILLUSION! Sometimes people forget that no matter what great 3D special effect directors and studios add to their film it’s not a true 3D experience. They are simply adding depth to the frame that is not there. To experience true 3D you would have to – wait for it – GO OUTSIDE!

Even if the conversion process wasn’t being used by a vast majority of the upcoming 3D films, I would still have a problem with it. I’m not completely against the use of 3D technology but I do feel, as a wearer of corrective lenses (read: glasses), that I’m being slighted. I have yet to meet another person wearing glasses who says “Man I absolutely LOVE wearing these ridiculous glasses on top of my existing frames.” They are very awkward to fit on your face and feel like they are constantly sliding down your nose. As beautiful and majestic as Avatar was to look at, I was distracted the entire time by these gigantic over-sized glasses resting on my face.

3d glasses over prescription glasses 3D Movies Run Amok: A Fad That Should Stop... But Wont

Last September, Real D did announce that it intends to make designer 3D frames (Gucci, Prada, etc.) and that some time in the future we can expect to have prescription lenses as well. Also on their slate are a line of toddler frames so more kids can “enjoy” the 3D effect. That is a step in the right direction – to get prescription lens wearers on board with shelling out the extra money but honestly, I can’t say that will sway me personally to jump on the 3D bandwagon.

So what should studios focus on instead?

Personally, I’d rather see them spend money in a way that enhances the overall quality of a film by shooting it with IMAX or better yet, shooting the film in HiDef 1080p and converting the theaters to show them.  I think a headline stating Green Lantern to be shot in IMAX!” would be less groan inducing than a headline about it being in post-converted 3D.

I know IMAX cameras are big, bulky and expensive but maybe if they pumped just half of the budget from all the dumb 3D movies coming out into research, then they could develop a smaller camera. Say what you want about Transformers 2 but the IMAX scenes in the film looked glorious and I don’t think anyone would argue the IMAX scenes shot for The Dark Knight were anything but fantastic.

Whether we like it or not, 3D technology has proven (to studios at least)  to be a very productive and efficient way to recoup their investment. Just like remakes, reboots and sequels, post-conversion 3D is, unfortunately,  here to stay; all we can hope is that eventually Hollywood gets tired of playing with their toy fireman’s hat and just uses it for certain films. It would also help if they stopped post converting and started filming in 3D but as long as audiences keep lining up and plopping down the extra cash (Alice in Wonderland is over $200 million in 2 weeks) then studios have no reason to change their tactics. In their minds, they are giving audiences what they want and doing us a favor.


3d robot monster 3D Movies Run Amok: A Fad That Should Stop... But Wont

Coming soon to a theater near you!

In case you are curious about how many films are actually slated to be released in 3D (post or otherwise) over the next couple of years, here is a list:

Two Harry Potter films, Green Lantern, Sucker Punch, Clash of the Titans, Toy Story 3,The Blob, Saw VII, Transformers 3 , Underworld 4, Resident Evil 4, Zombieland 2, Piranha 3D, Drive Angry, Re-Animator remake, Swamp Thing, Burst, Stretch Armstrong, The Three Musketeers, Yogi Bear, Scream 4, The Hobbit, Twister 2 (possibly), Yellow Submarine, Who Framed roger Rabbit?,  Night of the Living Dead, Cowboys and Aliens, Spider-man, Gremlins 3, Guardians of Ga’Hoole, Cats and Dogs 2, Ghost in the Shell, Frankenweenie, Gravity, Tintin, Priest, Star Trek 2 (maybe), Erector Set, How To Train Your Dragon, Samurai Jack, View-Master, and oh yeah, Avatar 2.

Is your head spinning yet? It only took me 5 minutes to look all those up on here on Screen Rant and that only covers films coming out through 2012 – which just proves that it really could be the end of the world.  Maybe that’s why the Mayans didn’t have 3D technology? *Note – there are many more films scheduled to be done in 3D that I left off here.*

Again, I’m not completely against the use of 3D in movies, I just think that studios and directors should follow Cameron’s example and plan for it from the start. Scorsese seems to have the right idea and if Marc Webb is consulting Cameron on his Spider-Man 3D reboot, then he will be on the right track as well.

What are your thoughts about this 3D craze? Do you see it slowing down anytime soon and how you would rather see studios spend the money?

Follow me on Twitter @Walwus

Source: Shadow Locked, Hollywood Reporter, Associated Press, Gizmodo, Variety

The process of making a movie 3D after it was shot is a complicated and time consuming process but can be somewhat convincing. The problem is it will never reflect the same results as if you were filming using two cameras, simultaneously, from slightly different perspectives. Endless rotoscoping provides layers that can be separated to fake a different perspective for the second eye, but that’s what it looks like, layers. So yes, you can push things away and pull things forward and enhance the depth, but the content within each layer has no depth.

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  1. You completely missed the point of why 3D doesn’t make sense: it looks bad, is distracting, and did I mention it looks bad?

    It is a fad that people fall for who can’t tell the difference between 4k and a 320×200 16 color image from the 90s. 3D films are also distracting and look bad because they require bulky, silly looking glasses and the amount of light hitting the eyes is less than 1/2 of that from a normal, proper “2D” film.

    Avatar didn’t do anything right except appeal to the idiots of the world, unfortunately they are the overwhelming majority.

    • You are a miserable old man. POOF be gone with your fear of change and blindfolds

  2. Just saw “World War Z”,in 3D. It was a good film but 3D adding nothing to it! I spent the extra money just to see
    how 3D was these days. I saw “The Wax Museum” with Vincent Price back when. The effect is about the same and the glasses have improved as they fit over my glasses better, next time I’ll save my money!! Price is biggest reason
    people stay out of the theaters. Over priced bad stories on film!

  3. You do realize that they still have the 2D versions of the films out there for you to be happy… or do you just want to control other’s people’s choice in format?

  4. The quality of the conversion Jurassic Park has is incredible, sure I have the choice to switch it to 2D but I always choose the 3D version for its incredible immersion. I own a good lot of 3D films/games and can honestly say that it’s worth it for the entertainment value. Most people who are against 3D really either can’t afford it or don’t understand the technology well enough to appreciate what it adds to movies and especially games when done right. I bought a pair of lightweight aviator 3D glasses and the effect has never been better, dont even feel like im wearing them.

    Sure there are alot of terrible looking 3D forms of media but that doesnt mean you should tar all others with the same brush.

    • you are so right. why is this person putting down 3d when he can watch it in 2d? 3d is how we SEE.

  5. Frankly I am tired of people who slag on 3d. We SEE in 3d. EVERY movie should be in 3d. It looks natural that way. They should make more films in 3d. In the future they will have depth TV’s the smart people will have at least filmed in 3d. They should make some films with special 3d shots in them. Usually it’s just for depth. LONG LIVE 3d. just because you are used to seeing flat films doesn’t mean that they are better.