The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

« Previous Post | The Big Picture Home | Next Post »

Michael Bay on 3-D conversion: 'Right now, it looks like fake 3-D'


When Hollywood finds a new way to print money, they really go for the gold -- as in bullion. That's what's happening now as the studios have realized what a gold mine they have in 3-D, which is creating box-office bonanzas thanks to its premium ticket prices. So now a host of films are being slated for 3-D, with Sony going the 3-D route for "Popeye," Fox leaning toward 3-D conversions for its "Narnia" sequel, Disney doing the same for its "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel and Warners having already announced that it will have (count 'em) nine 3-D titles in release in 2011.

Jim Cameron has already loudly voiced skepticism about the artistic merits of the process. And now he has a formidable new ally: Michael Bay. According to this well-reported piece by Deadline's Mike Fleming, Bay is in the midst of a high-stakes tug of war with Paramount over whether he's willing to allow the studio to convert his upcoming "Transformers 3" film to 3-D. Though he's an unlikely voice when it comes to issues of artistic merit, Bay is nothing if not blunt about his reservations, offering the most cogent argument yet against the 3D conversion process:

"I shoot complicated stuff, I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process.... Right now, it looks like fake 3-D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you're thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say what they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn't going to be excellent, I don't want to do it. And it is my choice.... I'm used to having the A-team working on my films, and I'm going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3-D. Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I'm not." 

It sounds like Bay has laid down the gauntlet. Whatever you think of his films' aesthetic qualities -- and I'm obviously not a fan -- you have to respect Bay for using his clout he's earned from a string of box-office hits to take a stand against cheesy 3-D conversions. I suspect a lot is riding on the audience reaction to the April 2 release of "Clash of the Titans," which Warners hastily converted to 3-D in the wake of the "Avatar" box-office blitzkrieg. If the movie's business falls off in its second weekend, after word gets around that the 3-D effects aren't worth an extra three bucks, we could suddenly be seeing a lot more filmmakers with the guts Bay has shown by taking a stand against turning his movie into another cash cow.


Will 'Alice in Wonderland' start a DVD window revolution?

'Transformers 3': Will John Malkovich and Frances McDormand get a robot-sized paycheck?

'Clash of the Titans' 3-D conversion gets a very lackluster review

Is Jim Cameron talking out of both sides of his mouth on 3-D conversions?

Photo of Michael Bay by Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (27)

The comments to this entry are closed.

What about us poor old Pensioners who wear glasses all the time. We put those 3-D glasses over our own glasses and it is so uncomfortable. No, so millions of us will NOT go to the theater to see 3-D movies. I bet it is uncomfortable for the young who wear glasses too. I will wait until the 2-D DVD comes out to rent AVATAR. Or better yet I will get my grandchild to rip it off the net. So there.

I saw avatar in 3d and saw alice in wonderland in 3d.

I thought I was gonna get the same experience from alice in wonderland that I got from avatar.

I know the difference now. A film shot in 3d is worth the money, a film that is converted looks like crap and no thought has gone into the conversion. Just stupid pet tricks. I will not go to a movie that is '3d' unless it has actually been shot in 3d and some thought has gone into it. Alice in wonderland was a great movie which was ruined by me having to wear the 3d glasses for no reason.

Dear Movie Studios:

Don't think that other people will not realize soon what the difference is and you will pay with your pocket books.

Saw Avatar in 3-D at the Piccadilly in Shinjuku, Tokyo on a new screen and even that didn't look that great.

Converting to 3D is AWFUL. Alice in Wonderland's 3D was a complete waste of extra $$. If the studios want 3D to stick around, they'd better STOP using the conversion process because most of America is not savvy enough to know when something's been shot in 3D and when it's been converted. And after America goes and sees two or three crappily converted films, people are going to think that 3D is passe once again and stop spending money on it. Then the studios will say, "See? It was just a fad" when the truth is, no, it isn't a fad. It's that you wanted to make more money for a crappy product and the public stopped buying it. Michael Bay, ironically, is right on this issue.

Faux-D = NO-D!

The conversion process will ultimately find its most welcome home in TV. Once 3-D TV becomes affordable, studios will rush in to convert their backlog to feed the one-eyed monster.

If however, they don't wait for the home bonanza, bad conversions could end up creating the same kind of backlash that gimmicky, quickly produced 3-D features engendered by 1954, when the bonanza turned poison. It happened in less than a year after the superior 'House of Wax' was made.

Keep 3-D as an endemic, quality event on big screens, and it will have a lasting life. Beware fools rushing in for quick box office bucks.

Ha! No, best line is:

You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you're thinking, huh, this kind of sucks.

Good for him. But I thought Alice in Wonderland 3D IMAX looked amazing...

He's speaking the truth.
After Alice (which I think got a pass because of the Burton/Depp combo), it's going to be tough going for the fake 3D's out there.
Star Wars re-issue? It'll do well.
Clash Of The Titans? Don't think so.
Personally I appreciate Bay and his films for what they are.
We should all thank him for 'The Rock', the last, great Sean Connery film.
Bow Down And Thank Him!

Personally, I think anything that makes those moronic fighting robot scenes any more cartoonish can only be viewed as a plus. Admittedly, I rented the last Transformers, however, you'd have to pay me the big bucks to watch another...

3D conversion will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. The average audience member will not delineate between going to see a film that was actually shot in 3D, and one that was badly converted (at great expense to the studio). They'll just come away with a bad taste in their mouths regarding 3D in general.

Thank you, Michael Bay, for speaking up on this.

« | 1 2 3 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Stay Connected:

About the Bloggers



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: