“Post-treated, 3D films: why they do it and why we still pay the ticket price”

3D films are gimmicks. Everyone wants to believe they have evolved past that stage, but the fact is, they are just as gimmicky as they were when it was first introduced in 1929. The only difference is that, now, they have worse glasses and better technology to reach their gimmicky effects. That, and they allow movie theaters to charge an additional $5 to put your butt in their seats.

How hard is it to make a 3D film? Other than having to use specific cameras and technology, the budget is roughly about the same for any other film that would have a huge FX budget. “Avatar” was shot exclusively in 3D and had an estimated budget of $237 million.  Was that just because the director was James Cameron, who used only $200 million for his first box office smash?

Well, let’s compare the gross: “Avatar” made roughly $760 million in the U.S. as of November 2010 whereas “Titanic” made roughly $660 million in the U.S. after its re-release in stunning 3D last June… nearly matching the $600 million gross it made back in September 1998.  So, is it worth it?

Perhaps. But what is REALLY worth it to those who stand to make money from these movies is the newest fad: giving old films the new 3D treatment.

“Titanic” is one that has already been mentioned and, more recently, “Jurassic Park” has been given the same treatment. But why these films from the 90s? What makes them prime re-release material?

Easy: the people who saw them in theaters the first time are now in their twenties and thirties. Perhaps they have children of their own, children that they want to share that “first time experience” with. That means that the movie theaters aren’t just getting your ticket—they’re getting the tickets of all the people you bring along with you to relive the memories of seeing the film the first time around. Oh, and they’re also able to tack on an additional fee for the 3D glasses.

Frankly, the only people that benefit are the ones that are getting the money. Do the movie-goers really gain anything? Only sentimental value and a headache from watching a 3D film. Do the films gain anything? Not really, they’ve already be released on VHS, DVD, and re-released on DVD for various marketing reasons.

In fact, the films that are released don’t really benefit at all from the 3D treatment. With the exception of certain films that require stunning effects (as “Avatar” did when it first opened), the only type of films that really benefit from the treatment are stop-motion animated films. By adding depth to the film, the audience gets the effect of looking into a window at the action, rather than just flat pictures of these incredible sculpted figures that can move.

To all the 3D films and the history that came before them, we leave you with this to keep in mind: less of the cheesy pop-out effects. They only make it harder to get over how gimmicky you are.


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