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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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No Surprises Dept.: Hollywood killing 3-D golden goose faster than expected

Despicable_me Whenever Hollywood finds a new cash cow, it dives in and loots its riches faster than any pickpocket on the planet. That's what the movie industry has been doing with its much-ballyhooed 3-D technology, which has spawned one legitimate masterwork ("Avatar") but otherwise has been little more than a cushy new revenue source for exhibitors and studios. Both have been raking in loads of moola from the extra $4 to $5 theater owners charge at the box office for admission to 3-D movies.

I always suspected that even the most gullible moviegoers eventually would figure out that few films are worth the extra tariff -- especially the ones, like "Clash of the Titans," that were the product of quickie 3-D transfers. But according to this story from the always enterprising Daniel Frankel in the Wrap, audiences are abandoning 3-D at an even faster rate than previously suspected. The story is accompanied by a fascinating graph detailing the percentages of opening-weekend box-office revenue that came from 3-D screens. The graph's arrow is heading in only one direction: straight down.

"Avatar," which offered a mind-blowing glimpse at the creative potential of 3-D, earned 71% of its opening weekend bucks from 3-D screens. That number went down to 61% by the time "Shrek Forever After" opened, dropped a notch to 60% for "Toy Story 3," dipped to 56% for "The Last Airbender" and now has plummeted to 45% for "Despicable Me."

What's scary about these numbers is that they are all culled from hit movies that people were actually eager to see. You'd have to assume that the numbers get worse with each ensuing weekend, since the hard-core fans who turn out on opening weekends are the ones most likely to shell out the extra cash for 3-D showings. So if the numbers for want-to-see movies are dropping steadily, imagine what the numbers will look like next year when every studio in town is churning out 3-D programmers. I mean, a sizable chunk of moviegoers might still want to pay an extra $4 or $5 to see "Cars 2" in 3-D, but are they really going to pay more for "Mars Needs Moms" or "Fright Night," two of the other Disney films slated for 3-D release next year?

The paltry numbers for 3-D tickets sold for "Despicable Me" come as no surprise if you have kids, since I've heard dozens of parents with children usually age 10 and under say their little ones can't stand wearing 3-D glasses, complaining of either discomfort or headaches. So far, studio execs are putting on a brave face. As Warner Bros.' distribution chief Dan Fellman told the Wrap: "You can't look at just three or four movies in a row and say it's over."

I'm not saying 3-D is over either. But I don't think it's the Next Big Thing anymore. Audiences aren't cattle. They've come to realize that, with some exceptions, most Hollywood films simply aren't noticeably better in 3-D. When Jim Cameron brings another film back to market, they'll be happy to see his work in 3-D. But too many movies simply don't gain that much sizzle from the 3-D experience.

When the studios realize next year how much they've cannibalized their audience by rushing dozens of films into a 3-D release, they will be cutting back, not ramping up their next round of 3-D releases. The Big Event films still will have the ability to draw large 3-D crowds, but when it comes to the lesser releases, moviegoers are going to be smart shoppers. The brave new world that 3-D tub-thumper Jeffrey Katzenberg imagined, where the multiplexes would be overflowing with 3-D movies on every screen, is still a long, loooong way away from reality.  

Photo: A scene featuring Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, with two of his minions from "Despicable Me." Credit: Universal Pictures-Illumination Entertainment

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Coraline is also a 3D masterpiece. So, that makes two films.

3D is the biggest scam of the producers and theater owners. I was very dismayed that I had to shell out 4 extra bucks for a movie I could very well enjoy without the stupid 3d glasses obstructing my eyes. I liked Toy Story 3 but I did not need to see it in 3d because there was hardly any difference. $4 for a stupid piece of China-made plastic 3d glasses (that they probably paiud 50 cents for) is highway robbery. I promised to just wait for movies when they come out in DVD or Blue Ray.

Porn usually leads the way... what's the opinion on 3D in that industry?

I don't enjoy watching 3-D. I find it to be a bit of a strain on the eyes. It is uncomfortable viewing.

History repeats itself: 3D became big in the 1950's and then died out. The same thing will happen here. There are very few films designed around a legitimate 3D viewing experience, and even fewer that successfully achieve it. It won't last.

I read reviews before I go and see a movie in 3D since a whole lot of the movies that come out in 3D are utterly pointless!

People need to understand that a true 3D movie (avatar) is not only shot differently (in 3D) but is edited differently. You cannot have straight cuts without transitioning depth (ease-in/ease-out). This can be a factor for eye strain and headaches. That is why the entire edit of the movie must be 3D friendly. So, you cannot simply take a 2D Edit, convert it to 3D, and think its gold. Its merely a 2D film in a 3D costume, and it just won't flow like it should.

a '3d Movie' is one thing, the content and the storyline is another.
Avatar was GREAT in 2d... then throw in the fact that the movie was actually SHOT in 3d (using 3d camera's), and planned accordingly and you get a 'masterpiece'. Just because there were a few cheapies that were pushed through does not cheapen 3d movies for the future.

James Cameron actually had it right when he called out Tim Burton (and the others) for cheapening the 3d product name by 'converting' his Alice In Wonderland movie... give the man some credit - he IS a visionary and knew what was about to happen by doing so.

This does not by any means, signify the END of 3d...
.. one fact you are conveniently forgetting is the fact that Shrek and Toy Story had to SHARE '3d Theaters' with each other while Avatar had no one to share 3d space with. Please don't for a second, think that this is not a factor when dissecting the plight of the movie goer.

$4-$5 dollars extra is OBVIOUSLY NOT a big deal to many people - Avatar proved that... but what IS a big deal is the fact that a garbage movie is still a garbage movie... can't help but think of President Obama's now famous line .. 'You can put lipstick on a pig - but it's still just a pig"

I also saw another person mention how he would wait for the '3d Blu-ray' to come out... which is probably the same thinking as many others... if that is the case, and it most likely is - 3d is not going down ... it just means that the whole movie experience as we have come to know it is about to change with people preferring the comfort of their own home and their ginourmous flat screen tv's and personalized surround sound.... 3d movies will STILL be HUGE, just maybe not in the movies.

Me, personally, i stopped going to movies at the theater quite some time ago - it's just not fun or worth the money.. i agree with the others who have mentioned it -i would rather stay at home, kick my feet up on the table and enjoy the movie.

Not to mention that 3d does not and will not end at the movies... 3d sporting events have already proven to be a huge success and is only expanding... 3d is coming to your computers as well - you tube has positioned itself already to be a leader in 3d content on the web with all their implementation, not to mention Interactive 3d websites, and mobile phones... it's AMAZING the amount of ways 3d is being applied right now.

3d is not for everybody, but neither is posting on someone's blog or news site.

My only point is, 3d, whether you all like it or not, 3d is coming in a very BIG WAY and a couple of garbage movies will not change that.

This is actually GOOD NEWS for the movie goer or the movie enthusiast... it means they are telling Hollywood that they don't mind spending the extra money - but YOU have to spend the extra time to give us what we expect.

The best part of modern 3D technology is a noticeable lack of colour and image distortion. That’s because the human eye doesn’t really care what direction the light is travelling in, where it does care what the colour is. By taking colour out of the equation and putting direction in its place, we can now have films which are stunningly beautiful in colour and texture while still being 3D.

Where technology will take us next has yet to be seen. Will the current technology ever reach a time when holographic images will replace conventional 3D? No one knows for sure, but it promises to be an exciting ride.
If you take a look at the equipment involved in running a 3D cinema you would then understand why they are charging a higher admission price than the regular cinemas. 3D cinema equipment is much more expensive than your regular cinema equipment, making the high ticket prices reasonable enough.
3d theaters have to share space with other movies now because there's just not enough 3d theaters out there and they have no choice but to basically 'steal' from each other
until the theaters expand and implement more 3d movie theaters, this trend will continue.

I (and many of my friends) really don't like 3D. The effect is much harder than reallity and after the first oooh-and-aaahh-effects it is getting on my nervs. Especially those fast cut action films: You hardly can focus an "object" or a person, because it's all too fast wich would'nt be that extreme in life itself.

So after a while it hurts eyes and head. So me and my friends decide to watch the 2D version only and avoid 3D . And at home I also don't want to sit in front of my TV watching all the stuff with glasses on my nose EVERY time....

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