IMAX has announced that it will be screening more movies in 2D only, rather than in IMAX 3D. Following the release of Avatar in 2009, many moviegoers and critics were bowled over by the technological advancement in 3D on display in director James Cameron’s blockbuster event. At the time, it appeared as though 3D movies might be the future, and IMAX was determined to ride that wave to the bank.
Several years later, the biggest studio tentpole releases still advertise their IMAX 3D presentations heavily, though it has become equally apparent that not every movie needs to be viewed in the third dimension. Furthermore, many of the biggest movies are merely receiving the 3D post-conversion treatment, which begs the question of what exactly is added by the process that isn’t present in their original 2D format – a concern, moreover, that IMAX is intent on addressing.
Per THR, IMAX is planning to screen more films in 2D-only moving forward, citing a general lack of interest in 3D presentations from U.S. moviegoing audiences. Speaking to the decision undertaken on the behalf of the company, IMAX CEO, Richard Gelfond, remarked that the company, “Will play more digital 2D versions of Hollywood movies domestically, given a ‘clear preference’ from consumers for 2D in North America.”
Echoed by consumer habits in the home video marketplace – where 4K resolution is preferred over 3D presentation – it sounds as though IMAX has rung the bell, signaling the decline of 3D movies at the contemporary American multiplex. Recently, the Christopher Nolan-directed Dunkirk debuted in IMAX 2D-only to considerable acclaim and box office revenue. Likewise, director Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming sci-fi movie sequel Blade Runner 2049 will also ditch 3D presentations during its run in IMAX theaters, stateside.
Avatar definitely set a high mark for what could be achieved with the technology represented by IMAX 3D – but since its initial release eight years ago, very few filmmakers have sought to capitalize on Cameron’s 3D-driven business model (with exceptions such as Ang Lee on the book-turned films Life of Pi and, to a lesser degree, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk). Some moviegoers may still enjoy seeing the occasional blockbuster in 3D, but by and large IMAX is probably making a sound decision in choosing to make the move to more 2D-only screenings for American audiences, in the future.
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