3D movies aren't worth the hype and cause headaches, the Guardian wrote last week - 3D movie attendance is way down in the U.K., according to The Hollywood Reporter, with the percentage of English audiences opting to pay the extra 3D premium price having fallen 23% compared to last year. Folks like DreamWorks Animation chief and 3D evangelist Jeffrey Katzenberg are genuinely worried about the technology's underperformance with audiences of late. A 3D "Glee" movie tanked at the box-office this weekend. A recent 3D report conducted by the California State University actually says the stereoscopic visuals can cause you physical discomfort and another prime advocate James Cameron, recently told Reuters that he thinks its unlikely that premium 3D prices will last.
So, is 3D dead? Or on it's last legs? Tell that to the old godfathers like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg, all of whom will be delivering their first 3D movies to audiences this fall. Scorsese has "Hugo," which was all shot in native 3D, Coppola has "Twixt" which will incorporate 3D for certain scenes, and Spielberg has "Tintin" which used hi-tech motion capture technology that also utilized 3D. While some are skeptical, circling over 3Ds wounded body like a boxer waiting to move in for the kill, Scorsese is certainly not one of them. In fact, he's become a bonafide convert.
"If at the time, in the early 1970s, when I made 'Mean Streets' or 'Taxi Driver,' or even 'Raging Bull' in 1980, if 3D was the norm, I think those stories would have fit in perfectly in 3D," he told the Wall Street Journal recently. A telling comment too as the shoot for "Hugo" was rumored to be riddled with problems as Scorsese adjusted to the new technology (the exorbitant length of the shoot, seems at the very least, undeniable) even with "Avatar" DoP Vince Pace hired to help build the 3D camera systems for the film. "There was a lot of concern about the 3-D in the beginning," Pace said, with Scorsese admitting, "I worried about everything."
While 3D is at critical juncture in with Hollywood and audiences, Katzenberg for one is all too happy to point to the aforementioned trio of directors taking to the format this fall. "You now have some of the greatest filmmakers in the world stepping into the format to tell their stories," he said.
James Cameron, also interviewed for the WSJ 3D piece, says Scorsese's cachet could make 3D "not just a circus for the masses, but a legitimate part of the cinematic art form." WSJ then proceeds to throw some very real stats at us - even though "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" already crossed the $1 billion mark, 57% of U.S. audiences chose to see it in 2D. Whereas, by contrast, when the technology was still novel, 70% of domestic audiences sat in for the 3D showings of "Alice In Wonderland" (which also crossed the $1 billion dollar mark and is actually the ninth highest grossing movie of all time). But the "Harry Potter" finale is the third highest grossing film of all time and $857 million of those $1.2 billion dollars were generated overseas, which means the international audience isn't quite done with 3D yet.
So where's 3D at? Ridley Scott said at Comic-Con that he would "never work without 3D again, even for small dialogue scenes" after shooting with the format for his sci-fi epic "Prometheus" and Spielberg criticized the "exorbitant [3D] prices" at the same event event he hawked 'Tintin,' so while it still won't be going away any time soon, 3D is clearly still experiencing its growing pains.
As for serious dramas being shot in 3D? Cameron has championed this effort for a while now and Scorsese, who always points to Alfred Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder" -- which used 3D back in 1954 -- as an example of the possibilities, says, "There really is no reason for it except for technical limitations. As far as audience acceptance is concerned, it's just a matter of time until things get a little more easy in terms of glasses versus no glasses and other issues."
But the sticking point for audiences might just be prices. "As time goes on over the next couple of seasons, it will be harder and harder to defend the premium pricing," James Cameron told Reuters. "Not because the quality is not being maintained, but because more and more films are being made in 3D and at a certain point the majority, meaning 51 percent or more of major movies will be made in 3D. When 3D is the norm, you have to give a discount for 2D movies. You can't charge a premium for 3D ones." Hey, Mr. Cameron, this is not something that shareholders, Katzenberg or Hollywood want to hear. Hush your mouth. But seriously, both articles are pretty interesting, so give them a read.