Are 3D movies a fad or here to stay?

Mar 11, 2011 04:28 PM EDT

Avatar brought us a new era of 3D films. It was filmed with 3D in mind from the beginning, and for most people, it was stunning, new, and exciting. Hollywood saw the $2.7B that Avatar made. With dollar signs in their eyes, they saw an opportunity to ride on Avatar's coat tails and cash in.

So they started retrofitting 3D onto films originally designed for 2D.

Alice in Wonderland was the first 3D film I watched after Avatar. I thought all 3D films would be as visually stunning, but I was sorely mistaken. Disappointed, I tried Clash of the Titans in 3D thinking that maybe Alice was a fluke. Again, I was disappointed. The only films that did a decent job with 3D since Avatar have been animated. For me, I'm done with 3D until the average film is as good or better than Avatar. It's not worth the extra money for a "chance" that it might have been done well.

I'm not alone in this assessment. Roger Ebert also hates 3D movies. In his Newsweek article titled, "Why I hate 3-D (and you should too)", he points out several reasons:

  • It's a waste of a dimension: our minds process 3D naturally.
  • It adds nothing to the experience.
  • It can be a distraction: most "3D" is simply separating 2D into several planes. This isn't real 3D and our brains know it.
  • It can create nausea and headaches:  Consumer Reports says this is the case in 15% of the people.
  • 3D seems a little dim: half the light goes to one eye and half to the other.
  • Theaters have to buy new expensive projectors and some studios are telling the theaters that if they don't show it in 3D, they can't also show it in 2D. This leads to increased expenses, thus higher ticket prices.
  • Theaters slap on a surcharge of $5-$7.50 for 3D.
  • [Roger Ebert] cannot imagine a serious drama, such as Up in the Air or Hurt Locker, in 3D
  • Whenever Hollywood has felt threatened, it has turned to technology: sound, color, widescreen, Cinerama, 3D, stereophonic sound, and now 3D again: In other words, offer an experience you can't get at home.
I'm not opposed to 3-D as an option. I'm opposed to it as a way of life for Hollywood, where it seems to be skewing major studio output away from the kinds of films we think of as Oscar-worthy. Scorsese and Herzog make films for grown-ups. Hollywood is racing headlong toward the kiddie market. Disney recently announced it will make no more traditional films at all, focusing entirely on animation, franchises, and superheroes. I have the sense that younger Hollywood is losing the instinctive feeling for story and quality that generations of executives possessed. It's all about the marketing. Hollywood needs a projection system that is suitable for all kinds of films -every film- and is hands-down better than anything audiences have ever seen. The marketing executives are right that audiences will come to see a premium viewing experience they can't get at home. But they're betting on the wrong experience.

-Roger Ebert, quote from his Newsweek article.

So what do you think? Is 3D a fad or is it here to stay? And are you going to watch the next big film in 3D?


Are 3D movies a fad or here to stay?

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