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Warners Cancels 3-D on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 9, 2010 at 4:19AM

In a welcome sign that the studios are recognizing the hazards of retrofit 3-D--even if done well--Warner Bros. is dumping the idea of releasing Deathly Hallows Part I, the penultimate film in the Harry Potter series, in 3-D on November 19. (An IMAX release will proceed.) Smart move--although the studio blames a lack of time for the change in conversion plans. With time to spare, they say they'll still release Part II in 3-D on July 15. I'll believe it when I see it.
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Thompson on Hollywood

In a welcome sign that the studios are recognizing the hazards of retrofit 3-D--even if done well--Warner Bros. is dumping the idea of releasing Deathly Hallows Part I, the penultimate film in the Harry Potter series, in 3-D on November 19. (An IMAX release will proceed.) Smart move--although the studio blames a lack of time for the change in conversion plans. With time to spare, they say they'll still release Part II in 3-D on July 15. I'll believe it when I see it.

Why? Warners doesn't need to do it, and after looking at some of the converted footage, they realize that 3-D could actually hurt the film's quality. They're not even putting the film out with a few 3-D scenes, as they did on the last one. The Harry Potter films are among the most expensive and lavishly produced in Hollywood. Why muck them up with 3-D, especially if they weren't shot that way?

Another likely plus from this move: Deathly Hallows will be taken more seriously by older Academy members who may not respond to 3-D. I maintain that there's a generational divide on how viewers perceive 3-D.

While Sony continues to double its bets on 3-D, the studios can't help but see that the bloom is off the 3-D rose. Tiffany productions from FX wizards like James Cameron and CG animators like DreamWorks and Pixar function well in a CG digital realm where 3-D is an enhancement. Disney's upcoming Tron: Legacy also falls in this category. But why spend $200-million plus on Harry Potter only to muck it up with a fuzzy gimmick?

Warners saw the 3-D backlash that met its rushed Clash of the Titans 3-D conversion. Bravo to Warners for making the right call and here's hoping the rest of Hollywood sees the wisdom of cherry-picking the right films for 3-D and not just burning audiences with low-budget 3-D flicks at premium prices.

This article is related to: Franchises, Genres, Studios, Tech News, Exhibition, Production , Harry Potter, Sequel, Warner Bros./New Line, 3D, Digital Future


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.