3D Gets a Boost of Positive News - Really?
I have to admit that I share much of Alex's opinion on 3D movies being a gimmicky money-maker by and large. While James Cameron seeks to change the game in his upcoming Avatar with what seems like intelligent, judicious use of the technology, most 3D endeavors rely on the hokey treatment of having things fly at your face to prove how "cool" of an experience it can be. A recent screening of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D didn't do much to change my opinion. While the film certainly has merit, the experience was plagued with technical difficulties, so it came as a surprise when the director and Brendan Fraser boasted about the future of cinema being 3D. I'm equally surprised by two recent articles that appeared in Hollywood Reporter that cast the technology in a very promising light, this time actually citing statistics.
DreamWorks Animation's CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is a known proponent of 3D. He's quoted as saying that 3D "is the single greatest opportunity in 70 years. Not since the introduction of Technicolor 70 years ago has there been something so impactful to what we do." That's truly a bold statement and one that honestly doesn't excite me at all. Watching a film in 3D thus far has proven a distracting chore and a much less fulfilling moviegoing experience. However, I could be in the minority.
A Neilsen PreView study of 4,000 theaters seems to indicate that 3D movies have some quantitative support as well. Ann Marie Dumais of Nielsen PreView said, "With all the upcoming hype around 3D, we wanted to take a hard look and see if there is truly a consumer appetite for 3D. Our new research approach contrasted theaters in such a way to demonstrate consumers, when given a choice, will choose 3D." Apparently those establishments that showed the 2007 movie Beowulf in 3D experienced a 65% increase in total box office results. To my mind, that doesn't say much about the viability or artfulness of the technology. Again, seeing something in 3D is an interesting experience that folks might be curious about -- the study also cites a general unawareness of what 3D actually is -- and willing to pay a bit more than normal, but I doubt whether the appeal can sustain.
I'll definitely see Cameron's Avator and am looking forward to his more sophisticated use of 3D, but I still have my doubts. The studios not only make money off pure curiosity in the technology, but they also secure a strong footing in combating piracy (that is until 3D capable TVs start hitting the market). It clearly makes sense to them. But with so much reflex support for the technology, I wonder if our movie-going experience is a secondary consideration to the decision-makers. I also wonder when the environmentalists will set their sites on theaters for the waste produced from the one-use 3D glasses. Why exactly is 3D getting so much studio support? Do others share a similar positive outlook?