With the success of Avatar, studios rushed to convert films made in two dimensions into 3-D. Why? Because they can charge more for tickets, and 3-D films can’t yet be watched at home in the same way, so they drive viewers to theaters.
Alice in Wonderland was converted, and it did very well. So did the next major 3-D releases, How to Train Your Dragon and Clash of the Titans. But with that latest, a backlash has begun.
One big complaint is about the huge jump in ticket prices, which appears to be studios trying to kill the golden goose. Hey, we found something that works to get viewers out and excited about our films! Let’s drain them dry, with prices over $50 for a family of four to go to one movie, even before you add the outrageous food costs. Nothing like being so greedy you turn your customers off a new approach before it becomes established.
Some are beginning to complain that 3-D doesn’t work for them, giving them a headache or otherwise making filmgoing uncomfortable. It probably doesn’t help that the 3-D films so far have been big spectacle movies, with lots of action and noise. According to that backlash article linked above,
Clash of the Titans throws you out of reality, blurs and muddies the action, makes the movie look even worse than it probably is. That good old-fashioned feeling of getting lost inside a fantasy space is GONE.
Those who know their stuff say that 3-D works best when it’s planned that way from the beginning instead of having movies converted or retrofitted as an afterthought to jump on this trend. As with any technique, it’s best when it’s part of the entire movie-making process, not treated as a way to exhort more money out of your customers.
I’m still planning on seeing How to Train Your Dragon in whatever theater, 2-D or 3-D, is showing it now, but that’s because of the voice talent involved and because I like theatrical cartoons. I was never planning to see Clash of the Titans, because I prefer the cheesy fun of the original. Whatever the next big blockbuster is that ships in 3-D, I’ll be evaluating based on subject and creators, not trendy technique.