Beowulf in 3D did huge business, and with many more 3D movies on the way, this could very well be the future of entertainment.
What is most remarkable about Beowulf is the animation style: Nearly photorealistic. But what is also interesting is director Robert Zemeckis' decision to make the movie 3D. The primary goal of Zemeckis, the producers and the studio was to make a 3D movie first, and a traditional 2D movie second.
According to the Denver Post, only 20% of theaters screening Beowulf were 3D, yet they accounted for 40% of the opening weekend gross of $28.1 million. And in it's second weekend, IMAX theaters accounted for 17% of total box office grosses although they accounted for only 2% of total screens! Of course, theaters screening in 3D charged extra, but the attendance numbers were huge. With that kind of success, what's next for 3D film entertainment?
There are a few movies in the pipeline that are going to be 3D, including some animated films. All release dates are tentative, especially since some of them aren't opening until 2009. Here is a partial list:
Avatar: James Cameron's return to feature filmmaking tells the story of an injured soldier (played by Sam Worthington) whose mind travels across space and time, and becomes part of a large alien body (an avatar which he can control). The film will be live action with photorealistic CGI motion capture from WETA Digital. The movie opens May 2009, and will be shot on the Pace/Cameron Fusion 3D System, a 3D Hi-Def camera that I saw footage from an NBA game recently. It was incredible!
Planet 51: An independently financed animated film, from Ilion, which was recently picked up by Fox for a March 2009 release. It tells the tale of an astronaut who lands on an alien world. It's like a comedic ET, except we go to the aliens and they freak out.
Journey 3D: Starring Brendan Fraser, this is a 3D adaptation of Jules Verne's classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. The movie is being shot on the Pace/Cameron camera, and opens July 2008.
Monsters vs. Aliens: Another animated film, this one from DreamWorks Animation. Opens March 2009, and I think the title sums up the movie's plot. Actually, DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg says there could be up to 18 3D movies released per year in the future, which makes me think CGI-animated movies like Shrek will go the way of traditional animation as 3D takes over.
Alice in Wonderland and Frankenweenie: 3D movies from Tim Burton, the latter which is an adaptation of an early Burton film. They will likely utilize the same mo-cap/performance capture technology as Beowulf. These were just announced, but I'm thinking a 2010 release, at the earliest. The strike is keeping scripts from being written at the moment.
The Dark Country: Directed by and starring Thomas Jane, this lower budget comic book adaptation is being shot with dual SI-2K and dual RED cameras, which are beyond high definition cameras. In post, they'll combine the dual images into 3D. The movie opens in 2008.
This is just a sampling of what's to come in the world of 3D. For a bigger list, check out /Film, which also talks about Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's TinTin adaptations.
I watched Beowulf in IMAX 3D and enjoyed it, though a friend of mine had a headache. I also noticed if I moved my head around too much, the 3D image got blurry, as if I took off the glasses. I'm sure the technology will improve, especially digitally. One more thing, ComingSoon.net is reporting Beowulf's second weekend in IMAX 3D was the highest in their history!
When I saw the NBA game in 3D, it was projected from a Sony digital system, which is likely going to start popping up in theaters over the next couple of years. Digital projection has around for years, but hasn't quite made its way into more movie theaters because the technology keeps changing.
I truly think 3D is the future of entertainment, and really, studios need something to get people back into the theater vs. renting or buying DVDs to watch at home.
Sources: Denver Post and ComingSoon.net.