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Is Even Hollywood Getting Tired of 3D?

Numbers don’t lie. When given the option of both 3D and 2D, more and more moviegoers are opting for the standard 2D experience. Last week, we discussed the declining number of 3D moviegoers in the United States. Now Hollywood itself is starting to voice its opinion on the matter. While 3D enthusiasts like James Cameron may have planted their feet, stood their ground, and stuck up for the film industry’s technological toddler, it may surprise you to learn what other notable filmmakers are saying.

Last week, The Wrap reported that ‘X-Men: First Class’ producer Lauren Shuler Donner spoke out against 3D during a panel at the Produced By conference, basing her claims on an over-saturation of 3D films and inflated ticket prices.

“We chose not to do ['X-Men: First Class' in] 3D. I believe the movie itself tells you whether it should be 3D. And I believe there’s a little too much 3D right now. I think, especially in this economy, parents don’t always want to spend that extra money.”

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ producer Bonnie Arnold stood as the only staunch defender of 3D at the producer’s panel. ‘Star Trek’ producer Ralph Winter bashed 3D, citing bad moviegoing experiences. ‘Transformers’ producer Ian Bryce talked about the difficulties that 3D put on production of the upcoming sequel ‘Dark of the Moon’, but called it “appropriate on a case-by-case basis.”

At the Hero Complex Film Festival last summer, ‘Dark Knight’ director Christopher Nolan received loud audience cheers when he admitted during a Q & A that, “I’m not a huge fan of 3D.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Nolan’s dislike stems from the “extremely alienating” dimness caused by darkened projector images, having to shoot on video instead of film, and various problematic limitations that the still-new technology forces.

In January, Nolan told Deadline that, “The intimacy that the 3D parallax illusion imposes isn’t really compatible with [the third 'Batman' film]… I view those as iconic, operatic movies, dealing with larger-than-life characters.” ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ will not be filmed nor presented in 3D.

Former head of Disney Animation and current chief of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg perhaps put it best when he told The Hollywood Reporter:

We (meaning Hollywood) have disappointed our audience multiple times now [with 3D], and because of that I think there is genuine distrust — whereas a year and a half ago, there was genuine excitement, enthusiasm and reward for the first group of 3D films that actually delivered a quality experience. Now that’s been seriously undermined.

Quite frankly, there’s no industry in the world that doesn’t attempt to move up the customer to a premium experience. I don’t care whether you make shoes or wine or iced tea or cars, everybody tries to create multiple price points. So why shouldn’t we be in the same business of offering our customers a premium experience at a premium price — as long as we deliver them a premium value? If we cheat them, which is what has happened now too many times, then they’ll walk away from it.

It’s really heartbreaking to see what has been the single greatest opportunity that has happened to the film business in over a decade being harmed. The audience has spoken, and they have spoken really loudly.

22 comments

  1. Sounds like a sudden outbreak of common sense from Hollywood. 3D in and of itself is not bad, but not every movie needs a 3D version.

    XMen might have had a few scenes that might have benefitted from 3D, but for the most part, it was a 3D movie. Same with the Batman movies – and I totally agree with Nolan – the Batman movies are usually dark as it is, and the 3D lenses that some theaters use would make the movie almost unwatchable.

    Movies such as How To Train Your Dragon, Alice In Wonderland, and Avatar, on the other hand, REALLY benefitted from 3D, and I felt that they were worth the experience.

    Basically, the state of 3D now reminds me of the movie Singing In The Rain, when talkies first came out. The Jazz Singer was a sensation, and suddenly all the studios decided they were going to make their movies that were already in production into talkies – to disasterous results.

    A movie needs to benefit from the technology, not have the technology thrown in half-assed at the last minute.

    3D is a great technology, but MAN, has it been used wrong! (Ahem Last Airbender).

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      William,

      Just to clarify, when you said, “XMen might have had a few scenes that might have benefitted from 3D, but for the most part, it was a 3D movie.”

      You actually meant to say “…but for the most part, it was ***NOT*** a 3D movie.”

      Right?

      Just making sure I understand you.

  2. vihdeeohfieuhl

    Well look at that! It looks like they are figuring it out. All of the comments and remarks from various filmmakers here echo all of the statements that I made in Luke’s last blog post regarding 3D. It looks like (hopefully) my predictions are going to come true.

    This is the first big hurdle, and it looks like it’s going to be cleared. They are realizing that the 3D film market is oversaturated, and that only certain movies, and certain types of movies should be in 3D.

    Now we just need the theatre chains to realize that they are charging too much for 3D tickets!

    Nonetheless, this is very encouraging! Fewer 3D films, and a less 3D saturation are hugely important first steps.

    • And if you’ll look back at your comment, I said that I truly hope you are right. I’m glad to see some known filmmakers speaking their thoughts on it too.

  3. Glad Hollywood is finally coming around…but that still leaves a number of 3D releases that we’re going to have to deal with – and I keep wondering if, when the box office for movies like Harry Potter come in, if Hollywood will suddenly change their minds again (even though it’s box office take will have very little to do with the fact that it’s in 3-D).

    I also hope now that all those 3D TV buyers will see what suckers they’ve been.

    • I bought my Harry Potter ticket, and it was $15! I freaked out! Gone to too many matinees lately. No, this time I bought tickets to the midnight showing, on the Extreme Screen (basically its a big screen similar to an IMAX, and loud sound, but they still use the same projectors, and just decided not to lie to the audience and say it was Imax when its really not) in 3D. So I have to pay the prime-time movie price, plus the upcharge for the big screen, plus the upcharge for 3D. But its Harry Potter, and I will pay the $15 for it!

      As for Kung Fu Panda, we caught it at a matinee in 2D. $5 a ticket for that. And that was about what it was worth – especially at the short movie-length it was. So glad I did not dish out $12 to see that in 3D!

  4. that1guypictures

    ^ @ Shannon. Basically all HDTV large screen plasmas on the market are 3D now. My 3D TV plays back just fine in 2D and in 3D and my glasses were free with my set, so how does that make me a sucker?

  5. All the hate towards 3D is very disappointing, especially from a website that was created to focus on new technologies.

    People need to stop viewing 3D as an extra effect and things like that. It’s not. 3D is to 2D as surround sound is to stereo. That’s it. It’s simply another dimension.

    Every movie uses surround sound whether the concept of the film “calls” for surround sound at all, and that’s simply because it adds another dimension to the film.

    It should have nothing to do with wowing anybody or directing attention towards the 3D aspect, it should simply be another dimension.

    Color didn’t have this problem. Surround sound didn’t have this problem. Why is 3D? Oh, because you need to wear glasses. The glasses shouldn’t bother anybody. And for some reason if you are one of the less than 10% of people who get bothered by the 3D display, then watch the 2D version, or get those “2D Glasses” which allow you to watch a 3D movie in 2D so your friends can still watch it in 3d.

    People need to stop being so whiny. There is absolutely nothing wrong with 3D. The only problem is the cost associated. If theaters dropped he surcharge from 3D viewings I guarantee the number of complaints about 3D would drop significantly.

    3D is the future. Get used to it. Within the next 15-20 years or so, every single film will be in 3D. So you better get used to it now.

    • I think the ‘hate’(too strong a word, I think, probably disappointment and indifference and annoyance are more appropriate) towards 3D is a perfectly valid opinion. People aren’t going to just ‘love’ new technologies simply because they’re supposed to.

      It’s not just about the glasses. It’s because it’s very much a superfluous extra factor. Sound and colour are not superfluous. 3D on the other hand… Already exists in movies, with depth of field and movement. A good film can still have an incredible sense of depth without the need for gimmicks.

      Is it whiny, simply to have a negative/differing opinion of something? Or are we just supposed to tow the party line when told? 3D is the future in your opinion. That’s fine. It just isn’t the future in a lot of other people’s opinion.

    • I think the comparrioson with surround is one of the best ones I have heard yet. There are quite a few movies that have a 5.1 soundtrack, but the back speakers are rarely engaged (and sometimes, anything other than the center is rarely engaged). But even in the simplest of mixes, where voices may slightly echo in the back or something, its better than a stereo or mono mix. It may not be like a Disney movie like Nightmare Before Christmas where sounds are being thrown at you from every direction, making you say “WOW! Surround”, but it does add a sense of dimension.

      Truthfully, if glasses were a bit better, didn’t darken the picture too badly, and there wasn’t the upcharge, I would be okay going to see just about anything in 3D – even like a romance comedy or something. Sadly, though, with the way things are working now, going 3D normally means you are giving up something – clarity, brightness, colors, resolution (on Sony projectors), and then you have the upcharge. Take care of those issues, and people will probably be more accepting.

      • Jane Morgan

        Surround sound is easier on the ears than 3D is on the eyes.

        My husband can’t see 3D. My daughter won’t use it, she says it hurts.

        Neither one has ever complained about our 1080p plasma or 7.1 HT.

        3D is going to exist as a niche, like blu-ray.

    • EM

      I think the analogy to surround sound misses the mark. As I posted last week, the 3D currently in use is strangely “one-dimensional”; unlike binocular vision in the real world, it doesn’t reveal different imagery as one moves one’s head. Today’s movie 3D is more like drive-in audio coming from a single side speaker.

  6. Dave

    3D is not going away rather there will be a shift away from every movie being released in 3D. For children movies it makes sense, however no one needs to see Room with a View in 3D. I think people are beginning to understand the industry is making everything in 3D to collect more money rather then give the viewer a new experience. A lot of these current 3D movies have been converted to 3D and the end result shows poorly. People are reading the reviews on how the 3D looks and purchasing tickets accordingly.

  7. Barsoom Bob

    Glad to see there is a more level headed discussion here. 3D used properly is an asset, even in a non blockbuster type film. “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams” gets you closer and much more realistically into the experience of the exploration of the caves and the drawings on the stone walls. Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder”, is another one, which coincidentaly is starting a two week run at the Film Forum in NYC in 3D this week. Hitch used the added depth to show spatial/emotional distances between characters and the symbolic telephone.

    Greed always corrupts and Hollywood did a fine job of burning movie goers on a lot of new films and is now paying the price. “It’s the economy”, we are in a recession and people are not going to pay extra for sub par entertainment just because some one slapped a 3D sticker on it.

    As for 3D television. This is a great thing to have available to us in our home viewing sets. People who are bashing this so vehemently are just being a little “sour grapish” It is not a neccessity for you to chuck your TV and go buy a new one, there just frankly isn’t enough grade A premium content to justify that. But anyone who has a real need to buy a new set the price is not very much more to have this feature included and be prepared for the future. I personally find my home 3D viewing experience to much better than theatrical viewings, except it does make me wish I had a larger TV. LOL

    • The price isnt much more NOW, just 6 months ago it was, but with Vizio hitting the market with passive 3DTVs for under $1000, its definitely affordable now, you can get one of their 50″ 3DTVs at Walmart for $989 or something like that, comes with two pairs of passive 3D Glasses like you get at the theater, plus it offers all their internet apps and the like, only 8 months ago I bought my 50″ LG Plasma, just pisses me off that I needed a new one and HAD to buy something then and the tech changes so damn fast it doesnt matter how long you wait, so yes 3D at home now can easily be afforded thanks to Vizio, everyone else was still charging way too much, not to mention the shutter lens glasses that cost a fortune to buy, if you have more than 2 people in your family you had to spend hundreds more…

      I’m not a big fan or supporter of 3D anymore, almost nothing I’ve seen lately has been worth it, checking out Pirates 4 was awful 3D, barely anything (of course it was converted) stuck out except a few cheesy moments and the sense of depth besides a couple a scenes was terrible, I could have watch 3/4 of that movie without the glasses on and still been ok. Too many movies are like this anymore, Avatar was a fantastic use of the tech, Resident Evil Afterlife really used depth in a lot of places (plus some decent gimmicky shots) but those were filmed in actual 3D, I’m guessing that the new Three Musketeers movie will turn out pretty nice as it was filmed fully in 3D with Cameron’s tech, but people just dont pay enough attention, when 50% of the ticket sales are the 3D versions of these movies, its obvious the regular JOE still has no idea and just keeps paying for it, well thats what Hollywood wants and they are getting it….

  8. I think the biggest problem is the conversion of a 2D movie to 3D is much like upconverting dvd to 1080p. I mean it looks ok but never as good as bluray.

    The bottom line is that Hollywood needs to ensure they don’t put out half-assed crap and charge a premium for it. People had enough of it.

  9. The reason that 3D became as popular or rather forced so quickly is one thing and one thing only, Avatars domestic profit. While the movie was one of the most expensive in history it has also grossed so much money that the only thing producers saw were dollar signs. Almost none of them understood what Cameron was doing, this much is obvious. Yes the movie was in 3D but not only was it filmed in a way that did not beat you over the head with the 3D it was used almost exclusively to add DEPTH to the experience. Cameron not only pushed this technology to it’s limits he developed new technology that made his vision possible. Add to that the fact that he is a great director who understands the technology he is using. Yes the story is simplistic if you look at it only on it’s surface, which is easy to do when the surface is so amazing to look at. But the movie does have it’s depth if you choose to look at it. While plenty of people may be turned off by it’s very over the top green movement vs. Corporations, Cameron has always played corporations as bad guys. In Aliens Weyland Yutani was brought to a whole new level of evil with Paul Reiser’s character. In Terminator, Cyberdyne a huge corporation ends up literally destroying the world (at least in the cool timeline). If your on the fence about the movie at all, watch the Collectors extended edition, the extra 16 minutes really helps to flesh out the movie and secondary story lines.

    I hadn’t even had an urge to watch avatar after being blown away by it in the initial theater run. And I missed my chance to see the special edition when it was re-released (due to lame lack of advertising online) but when I recently purchased a new TV I picked up Avatar because it figured it would be the best Video and Sound until Lord of the Rings later this month. Now I’ve ended up watching it alot and really digging some of the more subtle touches.

    3D is a gimmick as long as studios keep cutting corners, all they need to do is look at Avatar and be reminded why that movie succeeded, subtle 3D and not hammering it with goofy “Comin At Ya” shots, Filmed with special 3D cameras and not rushed to tack it on after the fact.

    I can think of only two movies that I know for a fact were FILMED and designed for release in 3D since Avatar and that was Tron Legacy (which was an amazing 3D experience and a fitting sequel to the original, I have it being delievered next week) and the second movie was Resident Evil: Afterlife, which I never saw in 3D because I knew that Anderson was going to ruin it with stupid in your face 3D and lame ass computer diagram transitions from one big scene to the next. And I was completely right. The 3D may have been good but a 3D turd is still a turd.

    • You just said you never saw RE Afterlife in 3D so how do you know it sucked? I saw Tron Legacy in the 3D Imax and it was horrible, so who is really right here? I loved RE Afterlife in 3D, sure it had some things thrown at the screen, but there were tons of scenes filmed with amazing depth, its one of the better 3D movies I’ve seen to date, Tron barely had anything happening and was as bad as converted Pirates 4 IMO….what I’m starting to think is that my Imax really isnt a true Imax, every movie I’ve seen there (besides Avatar) has been bad for 3D, so if Tron is really that good (but who knows because everyone has their own vision opinion ;)) then I must have been cheated at my Imax theater

      So far I’ve heard so many people talk up different movies from others when it comes to 3D, some people say this particular movie was awesome and others say it was horrible, so something is going on here that isnt translating well to different people, I thought Tron blew in 3D and you thought it was amazing, how thats possible I have no idea, but I’m seeing more and more talk about that as time goes on

      • I don’t know about your IMAX, but I saw Tron at a Sony 4k theater (yeah, I’ve gone off about that in another thread), and the 3D effect was VERY good. Of course, the 3D was only used in the grid, which is exactly what the filmmakers were going for.