Apparently, Every Movie Does Need to Be 3-D Now

Do you remember how I was saying just last week that Warner Bros. had cancelled plans to convert the upcoming ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1’ into 3-D for its theatrical release this November? I applauded the decision, because I’m bothered by the current trend toward foisting 3-D onto movies never intended for the format. Well, I should have guessed what would happen next. That’s right, now Warner has announced that it’s converting the earlier ‘Harry Potter’ movies to 3-D. Isn’t that just great?

According to ‘Variety’, the studio has begun work preparing both ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘ and ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince‘ for eventual release on 3-D Blu-ray. No doubt, the first four movies in the series will be converted as well. No expected release date has yet been announced.

To be fair, both ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Half-Blood Prince’ played in IMAX 3-D theaters with selected scenes that jumped to 3-D format. At the very least, it can be argued that those scenes were always designed and intended for 3-D. However, the bulk of both movies were straight 2-D. And of course, the earlier ‘Potter’ flicks were never made with any notion of 3-D at all.

The worst part of all this: the 3-D conversion is being performed by Prime Focus, the same firm that was roundly criticized for the poor quality of its ‘Clash of the Titans‘ 3-D conversion earlier this year.

I don’t have a problem with the current 3-D fad when it comes to movies produced in native 3-D, or at the very least those planned from the beginning with 3-D conversion in mind (such as Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland‘). But this willy-nilly conversion of older movies into 3-D has got to stop. This is the 21st Century version of colorization, and it’s a travesty.


  1. AlexWS

    Have seen some clips that have been converted from 2D to 3D (of Iron Man 2, for that matter). Found the effect decent. Gave an increased sense of depth, and overall more immersion. Can’t complain about that. And that was a “home made” conversion. I imagine Warner Brothers to do a better job. And with this project they can take as long time with it as is needed. No pesky theater deadline to reach.

      • Hey, I LOVED the colorized versions of Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, and the Absent-Minded Professor, but that is probably because I saw them before I saw the Black and White versions. Many people (but not all) that I have shown the colorized version of Its A Wonderful Life to on Blu-Ray perfer that version.

        As for Harry Potter, I think 3-6, which were all, AFAIK, filmed with the intent of being upconverted to IMAX, should have some SCENES that should look great in 3D (thinking of the Dragon scene in Goblet of Fire in particular, and some of the sweeping landscapes) Also, I bet Clash of the Titans conversion was probably done on a crunched timetable for theatrical release. Luckily about a catalogue Blu-Ray release, they aren’t as hard tied to marketing release dates – Blu-Rays get delayed all the time for some reason or other. Hopefully it will look halfway decent!

        • Ian Whitcombe

          Even though Warners probably didn’t spend much *time* upconverting Titans, they probably did spend a fair bit of money. So I see this as a wash. The HP converts will probably have more time spent on them, but less available money due to them only being for the home video release.

  2. AlexWS

    The color tone in the film (or no color at all) will affect the mood and the tone of the movie. While adding 3D only increases the effect of what is already there. If a scene is dark and gloomy with lots of contrast, it will still appear this way when viewed in 3D. That is at least my thoughts on the subject. I can understand other not feeling the same, but I still think that there is a great difference between colorization and adding 3D.

    I think a better analogy would be adding surround sound to a movie shot with mono sound. Again I think that surround would be to prefer as long as it is done well. Most movies don’t suit the conversion to surround, so those I will often watch with the original mono track (when available). But I think 3D conversion is less “intrusive”. Whereas a poor surround conversion can make the sound uneven and chaotic, a poor 3D conversion will simply lack depth, without taking something away from the picture. But again, I can see people having a different opinion (Woody Allen still presents all his movies in mono).

    • Josh Zyber

      You’re entitled to that opinion, but I find adding a 3-D effect to a movie never shot with 3-D in mind to be vastly more intrusive than remixing a mono soundtrack to surround (which I also have issues with).

      Consider if someone found a way to “remaster” Psycho so that all of Hitchcock’s tightly-framed close-ups were converted to wide shots. Even if it could be achieved without any artifacts, it would totally destroy the directorial intent. Sometimes, more is not better.

      Even when done well, 3-D is a very attention-grabbing “Hey, look at this!” process. That very much affects the tone and mood of a film.

      You cited Iron Man 2 earlier. Jon Favreau had every opportunity to make that movie in 3-D if he’d wanted. In fact, I’m sure the studio probably tried to pressure him into it after Avatar. He declined. Who are we to go against his wishes?

      • I still think your comparison of 3D to colorization or to making surround mixes out of mono tracks is misguided. The 2D versions are STILL THERE. My understanding is that you can even buy a 3D Blu-Ray and still watch it in 2D on both 2D and 3D equipment. For this reason, I just do not understand the hatred toward 3D, or 2D-to-3D conversions. So WHAT if they are converting it? No one is forcing the 3D version on anyone! So what if a movie is colorized, the B&W versions are still available! This isn’t the same as Lucas destroying the original negatives (or so he would have us to believe).

        I mean, everyone is perfectly entitled to their opinion, and I even understand the reasons behind your opinion (btw, this is pointed toward all 3D detractors, not just at Josh – I REALLY DO respect your opinion, I’m just picking on you), but please, don’t assume that just because you do not like something doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for this. There really is no reason for the hate. There is room for both versions.

        Now, if the studio was to decide that it would only be available in 3D from here on out, THEN I think you would have valid arguments.

        Sorry for loosing my cool. Stepping down off my soapbox now.

        • Josh Zyber

          The 3-D Blu-ray spec includes a provision for turning off 3-D and only watching the 2-D version of the movie. However, the disc must be authored to allow this. A few of the manufacturer-exclusive 3-D Blu-rays released so far lack this feature, and can only be watched in 3-D.

  3. Josh, you have many valid points. I cannot and will not argue with you.

    That said, with the big 3D push, regardless of directorial intent, the big conversion debate is going to be very one sided, as money talks much louder than even the loudest purist yell.

    3D in theaters has no problems, and will survive, but 3D at home will fail miserably if there isn’t content out there. Honestly, if I have to sextuple dip my Harry Potter films (dvd, hd dvd, blu-ray, blu-ray box set, ultimate editions, then 3D), then so be it. with less than 10 titles on the market, right now I’m really not going to be a chooser. I’m a beggar, much like most other 3D buyers. November cannot come soon enough for us.

    I hate colorization. I’m not a fan of changing mono or stereo to surround. But 3D conversion, done right, I guess I’ll just shrug and say “had to happen.”

  4. I’m right there with ya, Josh. There is absolutely no difference between 3D conversion and colorizing. Both are presenting a movie in a way that is different than it was intended to be seen.

  5. Brandon Erwin

    Like most of you guys, I agree with Josh. 3-D started out gimmicky and headache-inducing to gimmicky over-used yet mostly tolerable. I think the Main thing we should focus on here though, is the fact that it’s still being played in 2-D. No one is being forced to don the glasses. Then again, this is Harry Potter. The Failure with “Clash” was most likely more due to the small time limit of which the 3-D was applied, than because of the quality of Prime Focus. There’s no way a Multi-million dollar film franchise is going to ruin their second to last film with bad quality effects.