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Why 'The Wizard of Oz' 3-D IMAX Conversion is Worth It

Thompson on Hollywood By Aljean Harmetz | Thompson on Hollywood September 18, 2013 at 11:48AM

I have seen “The Wizard of Oz” at least 26 times. I have watched it in movie theatres, on television, on tape, on DVD, on Blu-Ray, after talking about the movie to 1000 people in Sacramento, and twice in 16 millimeter on my living room wall when I was writing “The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM” 35 years after the movie was made.
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"The Wizard of Oz"
"The Wizard of Oz"

I have seen “The Wizard of Oz” at least 26 times. I have watched it in movie theatres, on television, on tape, on DVD, on Blu-Ray, after talking about the movie to 1000 people in Sacramento, and twice in 16 millimeter on my living room wall when I was writing “The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM” 35 years after the movie was made.

When “The Wizard of Oz” was made, in 1938 and 1939, my mother worked in the wardrobe department at M-G-M. Because I was too young to understand its value, I read to tatters the copy of L. Frank Baum’s book signed by Judy Garland, the lion, the scarecrow, the tin man, the wicked witch and the wizard that was my Christmas present.

If there’s “No Place Like Home,” there is also no movie quite like “The Wizard of Oz,” and Warner Bros. is celebrating its 75th anniversary with hundreds of things to buy -- jewelry, Lullaby League tutus for little girls and Dorothy thigh high dresses for their older sisters, stationary, candy bars, nail polish, toys, fruit juice and slot machines -- in addition to tickets to the IMAX 3-D version that will show in theatres for one week beginning Friday, September 20, and the 3-D Collectors’ Edition 5 disc DVD/Blu-Ray with a suggested retail price of $105.43 that will be for sale on October 1. Each of the characters in McDonald’s Happy Meals will have its own piece of the Yellow Brick Road to stand on, and 2.5 million bunches of asparagus will be decorated with OZ hang tags.

So are the 16 months of work by more than 1000 people and the thousands of hours and, most probably, millions of dollars spent converting the movie to 3-D worth it?

For me, the Kansas sequence was exceptionally enhanced. Anyone who has ever tried to take a picture of a Cairn terrier knows that the result is a black blob. Lifting his paw and his eyes visible as he gazed at Dorothy, Toto was much more a character instead of an appendage.

This article is related to: Features, IMAX, Classics, 3-D, 3D, The Wizard of Oz


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Thompson on Hollywood

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.