Why 'Fast Five' isn't 3-D
With the opening this Friday' of "Fast Five," Universal is taking all the requisite steps to turn the latest entry in its "Fast and Furious" franchise into a summer event film. As explained in a story in today's Times, it has a bigger budget, a foreign setting, and even a new genre -- transformed from an underground racing movie into a heist flick.
But there's one key element that most of this summer's tentpoles have that "Fast Five" is missing: 3-D. That wasn't always the plan. As of last year Universal executives were seriously considering making the high-octane racing rampage starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in 3-D. Imagine cars zooming by each other in front of a movie screen and Dwayne Johnson throwing Diesel through a wall right at your face.
Universal didn't shoot the film in 3-D, but was considering a post-production conversion, as is very common in Hollywood. But before committing the $10 million-plus such a move typically costs, the studio decided to test a scene from 2009's "Fast & Furious," the previous entry in the series. The conclusion, in Internet parlance, was a #fail.
"The test was not great. It was discombobulating and we discovered that the things that we find exciting about 3-D just didn't apply to a 'Fast' film," said Universal Co-chairman Donna Langley. "The way we shot the movie and, more importantly, the way we cut it does not lend itself to 3-D."
Of course, Universal executives may have a hard time not imagining an extra $3 or so per ticket when box office numbers come in this weekend. But they'll also probably be glad not to be losing many of their best screens when 3-D movies "Thor," "Priest," "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Kung Fu Panda 2," open one week after another following "Fast Five."
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in "Fast Five." Credit: Jaimie Trueblood / Universal Pictures