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.