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'Star Wars' and 'Titanic' 3-D: How much is too much?

October 1, 2010 |  8:41 pm

Filmgoers who've rolled their eyes at the reboot craze and the idea of old movies coming back in new guises hadn't counted on the trend going a step further: Old movies coming back in old guises.

That's more or less what we got this week as Fox and George Lucas confirmed that all six films from the "Star Wars" franchise will be heading back to theaters starting in 2012 (this time in 3-D, of course). And then we were hit by it again today with a story that James Cameron's "Titanic 3-D" will likely, as other reports had suggested, also roll out early in that year of Mayan doom.

"Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" will be released sometime in the first four months of the 2012 with as little as four or five weeks separating it and the revamped DiCaprio-fest, according to those familiar with plans for "Star Wars" who asked not to be named because they had not been authorized to speak on Lucas' behalf.

Some of the reports about "Star Wars" in 3-D left the impression that Lucas and his Industrial Light and Magic were committing to six films in the new dimension. But the sources with knowledge of the plans said the 3-D conversion would happen one film at a time, not all at once, which means that in effect there's no hard commitment beyond "Phantom Menace." If that film's release doesn't hit box-office thresholds, Lucas could theoretically defer or scrap his plans.

It's understandable why he might: The conversion process won't be cheap, and unlike Cameron, Lucas is footing the bill himself. At 796 minutes of running time, the entire six films will cost about $80 million to convert even at the conservative estimate of $100,000 per minute. Chump change for Lucas, perhaps, but still not a bargain.

In any event, at most only one "Star Wars" film per year will be released, the sources said, which should put the original 1977 "Star Wars" in theaters in 2015 at the earliest.  (A spokesman for Fox, which is distributing "Star Wars," declined to comment, and a spokesman at Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic could not be reached by press time.)

Since the news on "Star Wars" broke, there's been the inevitable backlash focusing on this as another attempt by Lucas to wring more profit out of -- er, adapt "Star Wars" to -- the latest and greatest Hollywood trend after doing that with animation and prequels. And it's hard not to see this as one more bite at the apple for the filmmaker, who with this property has chomped down on more low-hanging fruit than Adam and Eve.

But maybe more interesting than Lucas' motivation is how the re-release of his and Cameron's films will shape a larger landscape. Rival studios this week were scrambling to decode when the movies would hit ("Titanic" will come from Paramount in the U.S. and Fox overseas), and how that might affect their own spectacle-driven offerings. The tentpoles from other studios scheduled for the spring and summer of 2012 include "The Avengers," "Battleship," and new Batman and Spider-man movies -- a pretty heady list.

The news that "Phantom Menace" and "Titanic" will come before the all-important box office month of May should bring some relief, even if it means all of these other films will come on the heels of two 3-D movies that hadn't been anticipated. But with studios cutting back on the number of releases overall, there should be a decent amount of breathing room even with these two additions.

Then again, while that's good news for studios, it means the rest of us will get stuck with fewer moviegoing options -- and the options we do have will look a lot like things we've seen before.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Fans dressed as Storm Troopers outside a Toys 'R Us in New York City. Credit: Seth Wenig/Reuters


Is Star Wars 3-D a good idea?

Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

As 3-D TV comes center stage, there will be a great hunger for conversion of older films. It will probably be no better nor worse than colorization was for black and white films back in the eighties. It will serve to fill a temporary need, then fall into a distant background as a blip on the graph of popular culture.

Until a plausible version of 3D can be made that doesn't involve glasses and higher ticket prices, I don't see 3D becoming the standard that guys like Jim Cameron thinks it will become. He believes 3D, especially the way he did it, will be to modern cinema what color was to the cinema of the 30's and 40's. I think it will be more like "VistaVision," "SurroundSound," and "Odorama."

Mr. Lucas, put the mouse down and back away from the computer!!! Stop destroying the films we grew up with. You made them, we loved them, now let them go! Your remastered cuts with new actors and voice overs are sad....come up with some new ideas instead of going to the same movies over and over again and slapping on "new and improved".

The star wars films in 3-d is something that makes sense. Titanic in 3-d, that is just stupid.

There is no "too much" as long as the 3D conversion is done *properly* (e.g.: not rushed like "Titans" or "Airbender") and it's kept as an optional technology so that people who don't like 3D are not forced to watch it.

Money-money-money--i.e. greed. Is there anything else that would motivate a reprise of reissuing decades old product? Enough is enough. Just like the short-lived craze of colorizing old, black-and-white movies, jumping on the 3-D bandwagon will continue until the public stops plunking down $15 (or more) for more of the same.

If it wasn't shot originally in 3D, it's likely to look a bit lame. Releasing lame movies (like episodes 1,2,3,5 & 6 of Star Wars) in lame 3D is, obviously, lame-squared.

Maybe the folks in Hollywood could opt to put all that same money, time and effort into creating and releasing new, original and interesting movies (in 2 or real 3D) with intelligent plots, engaging stories and rich characters, not just endlessly remake the S.O.S. ...


I don't think that 3D versions of old movies is a good idea. "Star Wars" and "Titanic" are good as they are, don't touch them with all that 3D stuff. I'm not against 3D technology but sometimes it hides the art of cinema itself, so be careful with it, please!
And dear Mr. Lucas and Mr.Cameron, please, give us NEW stories and fairytales. Thank you.

"Then again, while that's good news for studios, it means the rest of us will get stuck with fewer moviegoing options -- and the options we do have will look a lot like things we've seen before."

What a bunch of BS!

I'd rather see a re-release of an older movie than 99.9999% of the offal the studios are shoveling at moviegoers right now. It's also better than watching hack filmmakers put out yet another remake or another movie based on a TV show or video game.

Besides, other movies have been re-released in theaters -including most animated Disney films- and in new formats (70mm, stereo, etc) and the sky did not fall.

I'd like to see Star Wars "Phantom Menace" and "Titanic" in 3D. As for other movies; my own choices would be a bit more 'selective'. Ie: "Wizared of Oz" would be fun to see in 3D. Old Hitchcock films would also be fun. The problem with that of course is they probably would lose money.

While I like 3D, 3D isn't the end all answer to guaranteeing profits. The answer is "story." Make better films with excellent story and if 3D adds to the story then add 3D. Otherwise, it's not worth the cost.


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