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Should 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1' have come out in 3-D?

November 22, 2010 |  7:00 am


Squinting into the $125 million that "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" took in this weekend in the U.S. alone, it's easy to forget that it was just six weeks ago when some were questioning Warner Bros.' decision not to convert the film into 3-D. Moviegoers loved Potter, and they seemed to like putting on those glasses, so why not combine the two?

Yes, there was the possibility of a backlash -- but even  "Clash of the Titans," that poster child for sloppy conversions, was one of the most successful movies of the year, the argument went. And "Clash" was no "Potter."

Yet when the seventh installment of the Hogwarts series came out this weekend and fans flocked to it, it silenced most of those questions. Even in two dimensions, the movie marked the biggest-ever opening of the series; Potter has somehow managed to retain all of the 20-something fans who grew up with the series while attracting a lot of younger ones too.

It's now the case that the two biggest openings of the year ("Iron Man 2" is the other) happened with movies that stayed far away from the Z-axis   And although "Iron Man" and Potter are, granted, sui generis, it's also the case that by the time "Deathly Hallows" ends its theatrical run, four of the top five live-action movies in 2010 will have been in 2-D ("Eclipse" and "The Karate Kid" are the other two; "Alice in Wonderland" is the lone exception). And all this in the supposed golden era of 3-D.

You could argue that these 2-D movies would have made even more money had they come out in 3-D. But it's of course impossible to know if doing that wouldn't have turned off at least some portion of the fan base. Certainly that would have been a concern for Potter, which remains one of the few billion-dollar corporate juggernauts in American life to be treated as such a pure and fan-driven enterprise.

The counter-arguers say that the biggest movies don't need 3-D the way others do. But, in a sense, that only confirms what critics of 3-D have been saying for a while now: that, maybe "Avatar" and some animated movies excepted, 3-D is a novelty suited best to middling movies, essentially a marketing gimmick and/or a chance to collect a few extra dollars in ticket fees.

I suppose you could argue that watching Harry, Ron and Hermione attempt to destroy the Horcruxes in three dimensions this weekend would have been better than watching  them in two dimensions (though I suspect most fans wouldn't). But it's kind of getting harder to argue that, for a truly beloved property, 3-D is necessary or even relevant.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Daniel Radcliffe (left), Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1." Credit: Warner Bros.


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Comments () | Archives (15)

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No, it should not have been released in 3-D. 3-D is an annoying and expensive marketing gimmick. Who wants to pay $10 extra to watch a movie through cheap plastic? Especially if it is "converted" after the fact, does that mean it is not even filmed in 3-d?

Guess it all depends on the filmmaker vision. Cameron developed Avatar as a 3-d project that could work in 2-d. I personally cant wait to see a large, live action event film in 3-d, it would be a great cinematic experience.

I think when it comes to Harry Potter there is a fanbase that people will flock to regardless if it was in 3D or not. I personally don't read any news about movies so I had no idea they weren't doing it 3D. When ticket sales came available for my local imax I quickly snatched up my seats for the family, along with a lot of other friends and co-workers...the biggest discussion then and now that i'm back at work today? What happened to the 3d? it seems that almost everybody expected it and felt let down when they realized it wasn't going to be in 3d....even at the theaters all I heard was grumbling about it from the people standing near me in line and sitting next to me.

It's not worth my time to watch 3-D applied on some films as my eyes get tired from all the hoopla surrounding the format, which I don't want to spend extra cash on.

A simple exercise; in any discussion of 3D, substitute the word Color and see if it still makes sense. And in this case the answer is yes... if today were 1941, and we were saying "The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind aside, color is just for middling movies and cartoons." Now, I don't think anyone would argue that The Maltese Falcon would've been better in color, but Harry Potter 7(a) is just the kind of show that would've been better in color then, and is absolutely better in 3D now.

Big HP fan, but think 3D would have been cool. Saw it on IMAX-- can't imagine what 3D could have brought. My opinion is that HP and WB have a Voldmortian plan afoot -- they'll re-engineer the entire series in 3D and re-issue beginning, say, in 2012. That way the whole series will be renewed and open for another cash milking. Far-fetched? Just wait and see...

Once the ride-the-3D-money-train wears out, there is every chance that movies will be made to exploit the "psychological impact" that a 3D scene is capable of.

Movie-makers are already saying no to Studios on blatant conversions, and Studios themselves are seeing the logic of not churning out conveyor belt 3D via senseless conversions. (case in point Harry Potter).

When Directors and story tellers fully understand the nuances of reproducing spatial info of a scene, you'll get a whole different meaning and use with 3D movies.

For those interested....


The one thing I’m thankful for is they ran out of time on post converting this movie to 3D. It would have been absolutely horrible, there is NOTHING, not one scene or moment in that would have looked good or even been worth watching in 3D. Unless you think watching bland, desolate landscapes in 3D would have been awesome.

How about attracting older fans? This is the first one I've seen. The lack of 3-D distraction actually makes it "quieter" in a way that allows the nuances of the actors to be better considered. The lessons taught do not have to be in 3-D to be potent. I now think the series is the "Teachings of don Juan" for the 21st century.

3D is an artistic tool, like dialog, action, theme, and color - thanks, Timber! It can be used well, or ill, or in between. The movie-makers of Potter 7.1 decided they did not have time to do it right. Enough said about this made-up controversy.

No, it should had not been released in 3D. Warner did VERY WELL in deciding to NOT convert 'part 1' to 3D. It's probably the best decision they made regarding this film.

Everyone talks about 3D in a way as if '3D' was the reason people go and see movies. The studios (and the media) are trying to brain wash everyone into believing this. And they could not be MORE WRONG.

It's like saying that books that have color illustrations inside are BETTER than books that have black and white illustrations. The illustrations ARE NOT IMPORTANT, the important thing are those letters on the page that form words that form sentences. In films I don't care if it's shown in 3D, I care about the story, I care about being entertained!

I saw Avatar in theaters because it was shot in 3D, but I haven't seen another film in 3D, specially the ones that were "converted". If a film was shot in 2D, then I guess it was envisioned to be shown in 2D. Converting films only tell me that the studio suddenly got MORE GREEDY and now wants to cash in to the 3D ticket sales.

3d is a distraction not an art form.

DUH!!! i'd watch it again if it was in 3D..perfect vehicle for this franchise.

@ Timber, I agree with the whole circa 1941 and how movies were starting to be in color. I think more and more action movies will be made in 3D if they can- what can be more exciting for the audience than to have burning cars or things looking like they are jumping out at the screen onto them? On a personal note, I did NOT see Deathly Hallows in 3D- I just wanted to see it. Would I have enjoyed it better in 3D? Aside from a scene here or there, I don't think it's worth the extra money.

I saw the previous 3D partial conversions of Harry Potter, and they were some of the worst 3D I've ever seen (only slightly less worse than "Superman Returns"). Had HP been shot in 3D, I would've been thrilled, but even the best 3D conversions are no better than middling and flat-looking. Warner and IMAX made more money off me by ditching the conversion for part 1. If part 2 gets converted, that guarantees that I will be paying less to see it by attending a flat screening. 150 minutes of crummy 3D? Hell, no!


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