Weekend Roundtable: Inappropriate 3D Conversions

These days, Hollywood is eager to convert just about any old movie to 3D in hopes of re-releasing it to theaters and milking it for a few extra bucks. However, it seems to us that some films just plain wouldn’t be appropriate for the 3D treatment. In today’s Roundtable, we unleash some of our worst ideas for movies that really shouldn’t ever come at ya’ in 3D.

Shannon Nutt

Who’s got trouble? Well, we’ll all be in trouble if Warner Bros. ever decides that ‘Casablanca‘ needs the 3D treatment. We’ve already gone through the agony of Ted Turner colorizing the classic back in the late 1980s. Can you imagine the outrage toward Warner if the studio tried to tinker with the film just to rake in a few extra dollars? It would be the end of a beautiful friendship. “Here’s looking at you, kid… in 3D!”

Mike Attebery

The French Connection III-D

All the talk of going back to classics like ‘Taxi Driver’ and converting them to 3D seems utterly insane to me, and when I think “classic” and “insane,” I think Friedkin. Remember when William Friedkin, notorious madman of the movies, went and turned ‘The French Connection‘ into a recolored Blu-ray nightmare, then pretended it was all a misunderstanding, before the remastered Blu-ray quietly slipped onto store shelves a few years later? That seemed like typical Friedkin, but I’d like to see him kick the craziness up a notch or two. I’m talking a RE-remastered edition converted to 3D, with new Jabba-style bonus footage shot and spliced into that puppy, and a top-to-bottom teal and orange recoloring job thrown in for good measure. That would be an amazing achievement in insanity.

M. Enois Duarte

If we’re going purely by how sad the film is, then maybe ‘The Champ’ or ‘Sophie’s Choice’ would be really weird to watch in 3D. But one film that I think might have potential, yet be grossly inappropriate due to its subject matter, is Lars von Trier’s gut-wrenching drama ‘Dancer in the Dark‘. Björk’s fantastical daydream and musical hallucinations might look great in 3D, but the story about a single mother struggling in 1960s Washington is emotionally draining and downright agonizing. The musical motifs might work and look great in 3D, yet it seems somewhat tasteless to watch it as such. I’m sticking with 2D on this one.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

You’ve Got Mail‘: In love online and in 3D. Think about it! All the romance, all the laughs, and in all three dimensions.

[Ed.: That’s two more dimensions than any of the characters in the movie have. -JZ]

Aaron Peck

Boogie Nights‘ was on IFC the other night. I watched a bit of it, and then thought about this week’s Roundtable. Imagine ‘Boogie Nights’ in 3D. How awkward would that be? Although, I have to admit that the famous tracking shot of Bill Macy walking into the party would probably look pretty cool with some added depth. And throwing 3D on Heather Graham’s mammaries might a also be a good idea. Seeing sweaty John C. Reilly and Phillip Seymour Hoffman popping off the screen? Not so much. Then we’d get to that final scene, when Whalberg unveils his giant prosthetic manhood. Would people be reaching out to touch it? Would that be the equivalent of having a spear thrown at your face in a 3D movie? Ah, who am I kidding? ‘Boogie Nights’ was made for 3D!

Daniel Hirshleifer

Finally, Andy Warhol’s 1964 masterpiece ‘Empire‘ can be seen in three vivid dimensions! Delight your friends with this 8-hour, 5-minute film that consists of only one slow motion shot of the Empire State Building! Forget extraneous factors like plot, character or action of any kind! In glorious 3D, it’s like you’re really outside the Empire State Building… staring at it… for eight hours.

Brian Hoss

Although I would wager money on most of Chris Nolan’s films being converted to 3D the instant he’s presumed dead, a worst case scenario for me would be ‘Grave of the Fireflies‘ being converted to 3D. As touchingly depressing as I find the film’s innocent child-crushing content, the idea of someone marketing a 3D conversion as a way to enhance that film’s content depresses me in a not-so-touching manner. “In Grave of the Fireflies 3D, the story of two children in war finally has the depth that only 3D can add. Make sure that you experience this movie in explosive 3D the first time and every time.”

Luke Hickman

After Mel Gibson’s career suicide, my pick might not be all that far of a stretch. We’ve seen other filmmakers reissue movies when they have nothing left to do. (George Lucas, anyone?) What if Gibson decided to do the same and give ‘The Passion of the Christ‘ a 3D re-release just before kicking off pre-production for ‘Braveheart 2: The Revenge’? Whips could crack out of the silver screen. He could put into practice Ang Lee’s alternating aspect ratios from ‘Life of Pi’ so that the cross protrudes into the black bars. If you think about the raindrops falling in the end, it’s almost like he planned for ‘The Passion’ to get a 3D transfer. The more I think about it, the more I want it!

Bryan Kluger

A Marquis de Sade story adapted into a film so grotesque that the director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, was brutally murdered because of this movie. ‘Salo: Or the 120 Days of Sodom‘ takes place in Nazi occupied Italy where four wealthy men all make a pact to marry each other’s daughters. As a bachelor party of sorts, they kidnap 18 boys and girls and keep them locked in a large house where four older prostitutes discuss different acts of perversion, to which the men sadistically perform these atrocities on each boy and girl. These acts involve feces, blood, rape, extreme torture, death and everything in between. This is one of the most difficult films to watch and is the perfect candidate to get the 3D treatment. The depth of its depravity will have literal depth!

Josh Zyber

Now that he’s set a precedent with ‘Jurassic Park 3D’, it’s time for Steven Spielberg to convert all of his old movies to 3D. You might think that ‘Close Encounters’ or ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ would be natural fits (imagine that boulder rolling at you in 3D!), but no, I suggest that he go straight for ‘Schindler’s List‘. Nothing will put the Holocaust more in-your-face than watching Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) murder concentration camp inmates in visceral 3D! Tasteless? Perhaps, but since when has good taste ever been a requirement for blockbuster cinema?

There’s just one problem: How do you recolor a black & white movie into teal & orange?

Tell us in the Comments about the movies you think least deserve 3D-ification.


  1. JM


    Basic Instinct.

    Song Of The South.

    The Brown Bunny.


    The Silence Of The Lambs.

    The Exorcist.

    Life Of Brian.

    Last Tango In Paris.

    A Clockwork Orange.

    Forrest Gump.


    • William Henley

      I would welcome Song of The South if it means a Blu-Ray release of it. I could always tell my TV to display the 3D disc in 2D. Of course, knowing me, I would end up defending that it is the greatest 3D conversion ever. Actually, judging from how good the conversions of Beauty and the Beast and Lion King were, it may end up being halfway decent.

  2. wedwood

    Dont touch Lawrence of Arabia. David Lean already achieved ‘glasses free’ 3D with his original cinematography.

  3. Tim Williams

    Lifeboat. An entire movie about a small group of people. Talking. And sitting. In 3D. Wow.

  4. I dont mind a Studio making a 3D version of a classic as long as they have done a proper job with the BluRay of the 2D presentation.

    But if they haven’t given the original the love and care it deserves then they should definitely not be converted until they correct any mistakes and provide them to the original purchasers free of charge. And I am sorry but 3D conversions should always include the 2D original at no cost as we are already being charged a premium for the 3D.

    • William Henley

      Sadly, you get something like Top Gun, which has a fantastic new transfer that they used for the 3D, and then teh same old recycled 2D. Of course, you could always just tell your TV to play the 3D version in 2D.

        • William Henley

          It depends on how the disc was mastered. I know that the menus were 3D, and I think the film was in 3D on the disc. Usually, if the disc is mastered that way, it gives you the option of a 2D version. In Top Gun, the 2D was on a seperate disc. So I am assuming those who watched the 3D version in 2D had the option on their player or television to watch it in 2D. My television has that feature.

  5. Kashtarreaper

    I’m just going to say two horror movies that should never be in 3D or even on bluray: “Paranormal Activity”, and “the Blair Witch Project”. Actually add in all of the sequels to both as well.

    • Josh Zyber

      Blair Witch brings to mind pretty much any movie with extensive handheld or shakycam work. Shakycam + 3D will have audiences puking in the aisles. I guess that would rule out The Bourne Trilogy 3D.

        • Josh Zyber

          The only one of those in 3D was the third, and Bay toned down his camerawork and editing significantly for that one. Which isn’t to say that it wasn’t still nauseating, of course…

  6. Ray

    Any movie. Go for it. If you don’t like 3D movies, ignore them. Don’t impose your small minded prejudices on those of us who appreciate the added dimension.

    • Josh Zyber

      The topic here isn’t movies natively made in 3D, but movies being converted to 3D that were never made with that intention in the first place.

      I appreciate color movies, but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s appropriate to colorize Casablanca.

      • I do agree on this point that taking what can be seen in the original shots and adding depth to them is one thing. But how long before some bigwig thinks that not only is it cool but Acceptable to add CGI Extensions and so on to make the originals more 3D Centric.

        Thats when I would have to break out the 2D Pitchforks.

        • William Henley

          They are doing some of this now when converting stuff to HD (Star Trek comes to mind). This brings up the question – are the original elements still available, and are the new CGI elements faithful to the original elements?

          For example, in Star Trek TOS, the original elements are still there. While the new elements do look CGI-y in certain areas, the new elements have the same theme as the original elements. So they work. And if I don’t like the way something looks, I just hit the angle button on the remote.

  7. William Henley

    I am usually like “Convert everything, the 2D version is still going to be there”, but I will admit, there would be movies that just wouldn’t work. Like any romance comedy. “You’ve Got Mail” was already mentioned, but I am just going to go ahead and throw the entire genera at it.

    Any Monty Python movie. (Actually, I take that back, there are certainly some scenes in Meaning of Life that would be awesome in 3D).

    The Cube. Let’s add dimensionality to a movie that is supposed to be closed and cramped. (BTW, I hate this movie, not because it’s a bad movie, but because I am horribly claustrophobic).

    Star Trek: The Final Frontier or Insurrection or Nemesis(I would be willing to see Wrath of Khan or First Contact though).

    The Blue Lagoon. I feel dirty watching that movie as it is. If they do convert it to 3D, they should put everyone who watches it on a government watch list.

    My Fair Lady
    The Parent Trap
    The Bible: In The Beginning
    Cast Away
    Any “found footage” movie
    Citizen Kane
    Blade Runner

    Movies I would like to see converted just because it sounds interesting:

    Gone With The Wind
    Mary Poppins
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    Sound of Music
    Iron Eagles
    Herbie Movies (the old ones)
    60s Beach Movies
    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
    Ten Commandments
    Dune (Ducks as Josh starts swinging punches at me) – BTW, didn’t the Germans already do this?
    Frank Herbert’s Dune
    Children of Dune
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    Total Recall
    Lord Of The Rings

    • William Henley

      Forgot to add some B movies. I mean, I really don’t want to see Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny in 3D.

  8. Albery Ribeiro

    Blade runner , Alien or Gladiator would be great. Imagine also 2001 , Lawrence of Arabia or Ben hur. FOR GOOD 3D You neef some scope in a movie that, s all apocalypse now would be magnigicent too.

  9. Mike D.

    These classics may already be on Blu-ray, but they’re ripe for a 3D make-over.

    “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Now in Glorious 3D”

    “The Shining: Overlook3D Edition”

    “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Filibuster3D Edition”

    • William Henley

      You would have to DNR the hell out of it – part of Baraka’s charm is the grain from the stock it was shot on, but grain doesn’t look good in 3D.

      Then, with the camera shots used, watching it in 3D would make me sick!

      I am usually a convert anything, but i agree, Baraka just wouldn’t work!

        • William Henley

          Let me clarify – I didn’t say grainy. It’s the type of grain. Yeah, it’s fine-grain, but the grain is still very present. It’s part of the mood and feel of the movie.

          I am not anti-grain, let’s not go there.

          The issue is that when converting to 3D, any type of grain can cause some weird visual anomilies. This isn’t an issue if something was shot natively in 3D on film – you are not distorting the image.

          Grain just looks strange in 3D converted movies, and while I don’t want to make a blanket statement, it seems that most I have seen have eitehr been scrubbed, or shot digitally to begin with.

          The point I was trying to make is that I don’t want to see Baraka scrubbed.

        • William Henley

          BTW, not the entire movie looks like that. There are certain scenes that the grain is more visable than in others