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The Real Story Behind WB's Decision to Drop Harry Potter's 3D

by
October 11, 2010
Source: Variety

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Warner Brothers made a big surprising announcement late last week that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which was one of their big tentpole 3D releases, was not going to be released in 3D at all. They in effect "canceled" the 3D release of the highly anticipated seventh movie, claiming only that "we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality." Subsequently, haters of 3D everywhere rejoiced as this was the first time any major studio has dropped the 3D this close to a release. But there's more to it as Variety (via SlashFilm) has published an article looking at what exactly happened.

Apparently there were multiple, major problems that just started to stack up as the months went by, and the execs at Warner Bros were faced with a tough decision. They needed to choose between releasing the film in 3D in select theaters, changing the release date or canceling the 3D release entirely, which they went for in the end, but they weren't going to still just release it in 3D no matter what. The reason? They learned their lesson from Clash of the Titans. Variety says: "Warner learned from the experience, and execs decided they didn't want to take a risk with Harry Potter, one of the studio's crown jewels." This is why I consider WB to be one of the smartest studios in Hollywood and this is proof that they know what they're doing. But how did it get to this point to begin with? Let's take a closer look at what happened with Deathly Hallows.

The troubles with Harry Potter's 3D started with IMAX, who was responsible for "subcontracting to other conversion vendors, tracking and quality control," as they were also behind the 12 minutes of 3D a few films back. But they weren't given the greenlight to begin until August, which was not enough time to convert it without looking terrible. Their attempt anyway began to fall behind schedule because director David Yates didn't lock the final cut until recently, with visual effects still being finished as well. And they can't convert until the effects are done. There aren't many 3D conversion companies out there yet, so when WB put out "emergency" calls to try and hire companies to work on it, they "couldn't find enough takers to catch up."

That was only just the beginning. WB was still struggling to figure out a solution and started making some desperate decisions. One of them involved pulling visual effects producer Randy Starr from the Hawaii set of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (which is why that movie got pulled from the 2011 release schedule as well) to help with Deathly Hallows. Additionally, there has been some internal struggle at Warner Bros over 3D and the conversion process. There are companies created specifically for 3D conversion, but the job has been moving "from the post-production department to the visual effects department," and that's causing more troubles and internal struggles as well, as Variety goes on to explain in further detail.

"The industry is awakening to the fact that the 3D conversion business is in its infancy and is far less robust than the visual effects business," Variety says. And in one of the best statements I've read, they add that it, "reflects a growing realization, at Warner and at other studios, that existing processes for overseeing 3D aren't reliable." We all knew this, so why did it take them so long to figure it out? The problem with 3D is that, in comparison to the visual effects industry, there aren't a lot of companies that can do it well, so they can't call upon the hundreds of VFX houses to convert when they're in desperate need of making a release date. "There simply isn't a pipeline wide enough to do large amounts of quality 3D conversion quickly."

So what's the moral of the story? Well, any 3D haters would say just don't try and convert so many movies that don't need to be converted. Others would say that movies just need more time and money to actually get a proper conversion, which is something that I don't think any movie studio has realized yet. Plus, they don't really have much extra time, as they usually set release dates very close to when the movie's final cut will be locked, and that's when they're supposed to start converting. My suggestion is along the line of the 3D haters - just give up on 3D unless it's extremely necessary. And for the Harry Potter franchise, it may be necessary.

For those who do want to see Harry Potter in 3D, there may be some good news. As there are still 9 months until Part 2 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows gets released next summer on July 15th, 2011, WB is still planning to release that one in converted 3D. Variety confirms: "Warner's focus now shifts to converting Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which the studio said will go out in 2D and 3D, as previously announced." There's also a rumor that they may try and finish converting Part 1 over these next 9 months and release that briefly before the second movie, which is a smart move, but we'll have to wait and see. Reflecting upon all of this, I think Warner Bros made some of smartest decisions of any studio in Hollywood and I applaud them for that.

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  • Xerxex
    blah, blah, blah 3-D is a distraction. WB needs to cancel al of their 3-D releases and go for 2-D and 2-D only releases. It is a useless money making ploy that needs to be cut away from the world of cinema.
  • Akirakorn
    @ Xerxex as it stands now, yes 3D is just a money-making ploy in Hollywood. However, it does have a place in cinema, as a sub-genre. A well thought-out movie made in 3D for 3D (only) can work, and work well. You can say the same about IMAX. Truth: WE DO NOT NEED IMAX. Yet, like Hubble and Under the Sea for example, there exists a very small market for pure IMAX movies. Keep in mind Hollywood is a business community first, and they're out to make money... first. They'll exploit any means to make their product make more money. Children's Books, Comics, 3D, IMAX, Animation, CGI, Video Games, and even their own films. They'll remake, reimagine, retool, reboot and ripoff anything they can buy (or steal) for a buck. 3D is not the problem, the Hollywood money-making machine is.
  • jin
    or y'know... give us our money's worth so that if the 3d was important enough for the studio in the first place, they would SHOOT in 3d instead of CONVERTING.
  • ToLPro
    @ Akirakorn I applaud you. You have clearly and accurately explained how 3D is good. I have been on this site for a couple of years now, reading comments about how 3D it soooo evil and then start a war on how it's not. Even when the people have the same view I have about it they still come off as a jerk, and you did it using good analogies, and not sounding like a know-it-all anti-anti-3D prick. It is not a dramatic change in cinema, not a revolution that will take over everything. It is a genre. Pure and simple and there are people that like certain genres and others that don't, but just because you don't like Horror film doesn't mean you should say they should stop making Horror films just because you don't like them and Hollywood cashes in on them. I agree that Hollywood is currently using 3D in a bad way. Taking their biggest picture and quickly converting it for the extra cash (which makes since to them because filmmaking is not a "film making" business but a "film marketing" business). I think 3D has it's place when it is used intentionally, creatively, and correctly. To help express the message, story, and experience that the filmmaker what's to make. When something is meant to be in 3D, shot in 3D, and/or when they take the time to do it right. Which I don't think will be for another couple of years. So there's my two cents.
  • Nethanel
    @ 2 Imax is a film format, 65mm\70mm. That is not a ploy. It is as necessary as 35mm. Imax is a legit format that brings out a more beautiful picture than 35mm ever could.
  • max s.
    I really don't care for 3d unless it makes sense for a movie to be in 3d. Avatar, neede it Clash of the Titans, didn't (saw it in 3d, the 3d sucked) I agree with Jin, if the 3d isn't important to you, why should it be important to us? The only reason i was seeing this in 3d because it's in IMAX 3D, and let's face it harry potter 7 in IMAX equals awesome
  • Xerxex
    Akirakorn, first off what's up man! Onward now, You can try to reach me and give me the pro's of 3-D, but I am steadfast in my anti-3-D opinion, all I see are the con's. I see it as nothing more than a money grabbing ploy, Avatar was not impressive in 3-D in which it was soley shot for, it came off to me as a animated headache that I could not escape, no studios wanna shoot all movies in 3-D, an I assume eventally replace 2-D format permanently with 3-D and the 2-D option will be removed, 3-D should stay away from the world of film. Onto the experience of watching a film in 3-D, what does it add? to me it adds nothing, nothing but a need to leave the theater.
  • SexMaster
    i agree with 3-d quality not up-to-par with visual FX quality, the only movie that matched both qualities was camerons avatar...but than agian he did his own 3-d and visual
  • Al
    Dear Akirakorn, please look up the definition of genre. Thanks, Al.
  • Caitie
    Dear Al, I believe YOU should look up the definition of genre (Direct exert of first definition of Genre off Dictionary.com): 1. a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like: the genre of epic poetry; the genre of symphonic music.
  • DoomCanoe
    #10 just pwned you Al
  • Xerxex
    hey Caitie except 3-D is not, IS NOT an ARTISTIC ENDEAVOR, just a waste of time, but yes as DoomCanoe said you did own Al, sorry Al you're still my best friend.
  • Jimmy Love
    Oh well I just know that 3D can suck my left nut while looking at my right nut in 3D
  • T
    you dont HAVE to watch it in 3D!
  • M
    Who really cares why they dropped the 3d, they dropped it. If they had cared, the would have shot the thing in 3D to begin with. They know they can't piss off the fans who are anticipating an great film to finish off the series. It would really make the studio look bad. All these movies that studios are converting into 3D, they don't care about the audience, they care about the money, they know some people will still go see it. If they had cared about making the thing proper, they would make the films they wanted in 3D, instead of this half ass conversion they do at the end. No thanks, I will stick to the 2D or maybe see movies in IMAX.
  • Xerxex
    T, 3-D just needs to be removed, permantely.
  • L
    #14 That is true for HP7, but not true for every movie running on IMAX. I have a theater near me that has 15 crappy screens and one fantastic IMAX screen. The problem is is that I either have to watch it on what I would consider a 1980's high school projector or I could watch it in eye-drying, obnoxious, headache inducing 3-D. Not only is the 3-D a gimmick, but you are paying extra for IMAX as well. This bumps the ticket price to about $18.00. So basically I am paying extra to have clunky Scuba Steve glasses on my face, get a headache, and not even realize the movie in 3-D anymore after 20 minutes. There is only 3 words to describe 3D. Money-grabbing gimmick
  • nota
    they dropped the "3D" because theyre disorganized and ran the production like a company not knowing what the hell theyre doing, and it showed. Its nice to blame it on "infancy of the business", yet theres a lot of movies who were able to be converted because they didnt wake up 2 days before the release date and said "hey, we should do this in stereo". also to nitpick, stop calling it what it is not. 3D refers to an artistic medium and is used in any movie requiring CGI, while also being the normal medium for current animated features. Stereo(scopic) films use 2 interlanced/projected images on top of each other to give a sense of fake depth and has nothing to do with actual 3D work. I always found it dumb people complaining about 3D since its been around prominently since pixar's first toy story, and even before that. Thats marketing for you.
  • JL
    I watched Avatar in 3-D, and though I had never seen something quite like that in the theater, as I hadn't watched very many movies in 3-D, the effect is lost on me now. I remember the film well enough, but I don't have any recollections of parts of the movie that were especially good because of the 3-D. I don't remember it as being a spectacular thing because the impact just wasn't that deep. While you're watching the movie, if you are paying attention to and wrapped up in the story, you don't really pay that much attention to the visual quality of it. Not to mention I had a massive headache at the end and that I had to tolerate that the entire 45-minute drive home. My point is that unless they can make the movie in a really beautiful and convincing three dimensions, without the headaches, and make the eye wear more comfortable and less obtrusive, then they shouldn't be pushing films to be released in converted 3-D, because it just isn't worth it. The film should stand on its own, as Deathly Hallows will probably do well, and not sell based on whether it's in 3-D. It's become so common now, anyway, that it really isn't that much of a selling point unless it's been shot in 3-D, and it's short enough (not three fucking hours) to allow you to leave your seat without your head feeling like it's been fucking Gallaghered.
  • bozo
    Bravo WB. Bra. Vo.
  • joealien
    Xerxex, To say S3D cannot be an artistic endeavor shows a great deal of ignorance on your part. Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but opinion does not equal truth. Yes the studios including WB have misused S3D for a quick buck and ended up with poor quality and mixed results. Properly produced S3D is definitely another tool for story telling that is best left to the artists to decide how to use. There is a visceral emotional response to properly shot or converted 3D that can elevate the viewers experience. Maybe not yours as you seem completely closed-minded, but that doesn't mean others can't enjoy the experience. People forget that when Star Wars come out, everyone thought it had amazing VFX. By today's standards, it's almost unwatchable. This new round of S3D is less than a year old and everyone is struggling to understand how to use it. Maybe it will survive, maybe it won't, but it is still a creative tool for the right artist on the right film.
  • Xerxex
    Joealien are you using the Avatar argument? please tell you are not...The Avatar 3-D is painful to watch, not impressive in the slightest, and the only good thing about Avatar was the planet named of course Pandora, the creatures and plantlife was exciting, but in 3-D it was just annyoing to look a. If you aren't then forgive me. People can make up their own minds, but I'll keep throwing a wrench into the engine.
  • dylan
    3d is retarded, its not even good or close to realistic, fuck 3d and fuck the simpletons that feed into it, its a waste of money as well.
  • Al
    haha thanks Xerxex.
  • Xerxex
    You're welcome Al!
  • 3-D is a waste of time, money, and there is absolutely nothing artistic about it. It's just a gimmick. When they throw an object at the camera to make it feel like it's coming at you, I just feel cheated that the director used it just for that effect. And I feel it takes me out of the story not plunges me in! 3-D should only remain in IMAX theaters (during certain times) and in Theme Parks!
  • What its actually about: $
    Releasing HP7.1 in 3D would have made another $25 mil (Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock said in an email) Releasing HP 7.1 in 3D, just before HP 7.2 (which is 3D) releases july 2011 will nab WB much more than a measly $25 mil. Those conniving bastards at WB found a way that they didnt have to do more work releasing HP 7.1 in 3D and trick the public into watching the same movie that should have been released as 3D (or 2D and imax 3D) again. As for blue ray 3D: there are just not many 3D home sets out there even if WB releases HP 7.1 on blue ray in 3D BEFORE they screen it, which they wont. Remember WB shot HP 7.1 in 3D. They will make a HP 7.1 3D version. WB will take the money for showing you the movie a second time the way it should have been released. All WB propaganda about HP 7.1 'not being ready for 3D for the release in november' is a bold faced lie.
  • Cac1223
    I know its a late addition to the discussion, but 3D fascinates me, so I'll add my two cents. If we're going to get into a semantics debate, maybe 3D should be described as a particular "medium" opposed to "genres." I like painting with oil based paints, I suck at water color. But I can appreciate a painting in any medium if done well. I admit there's something lacking in films that are converted to 3D. But films shot in 3D... Its true, James Cameron's Avatar was basically Dances with Wolves meets Pocahontas×Ferngully... And all above mentioned movies are much better movies overall I must say. But Cameron's vision and his contribution in developing a camera that shoots 3D can't go overlooked. If you can sit down objectively and ignore the straight-up cheese that's served as dialogue, you will witness a beautiful, aesthetically beautiful film. The idea of the perception of depth within a scene, and to feel you're witnessing it occur right in front of you just blows my mind. And when you think of the possible future applications, like video games... I can't think of anything cooler than adding the 3D effect to any video game, to block your peripherals, and totally immerse you in the experience... Because that's the point. To bring you closer to the experience, to feel closer to the action. So yeah, 3D isn't for everyoye. And yeah, studios can make half assed attempts to convert films to 3D for a profit... But someday there will be a talented filmmaker who decides filming in 3D will enhance his project. I promise you, if he can write a decent script, it'll probably be worth checking out.

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