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Roger Ebert on the Future of 3D

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008 11:48 AM

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As you probably have noticed, the number of 3D movies has jumped recently and the number coming out in the next couple of years is the highest that 3D has probably ever achieved. For reference, view the search results for "3D" in our movie database.

I've not been a big fan of 3D that I've seen in contemporary releases so far. While I haven't seen many in the format (primarily because I just haven't bought into it), I was very unimpressed with the effect used on Superman Returns: An IMAX 3D Experience. There, you had to take the glasses on and off for certain scenes, and it was a stark reminder that you were watching a 3D movie instead of being able to immerse yourself in the experience. Furthermore, I can't imagine watching an entire movie in 3D without being bothered by the ill-fitting glasses and the effect for a 90-minute-plus feature.

It seems that 3D will be unavoidable, however. James Cameron is working on Avatar 3D which will be a feature-length drama due to be released next December. That may be the real test of whether audiences will embrace 3D for non-kid movies, and more importantly, whether they will pay the premium the studios and theaters would like to charge for them.

Premiere movie critic Roger Ebert has an excellent blog where he writes about movie-related issues, and recently, he took on the topic of 3D. His post was a result of an interview he did with DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose company has bet the farm on 3D (read "DreamWorks Animation Going 3D" from March 2007). DreamWorks' next release, Monsters vs. Aliens, will be in 3D in as many theaters as are ready for showing it, and in 2D in the rest when it opens in March 2009.

Click the Read link below to view Ebert's entire blog posting. I tried to find a good excerpt to pull out, and I think his comments are best read completely and within the context of the posting as a whole. Overall, he liked where 3D is heading, but he's not ready to give up on 2D anytime soon.

3D will probably always be a gimmick, but if done well, it can still be an effective tool to tell the right story and entertain the audience in the intended way. Would Casablanca have been better in 3D? No. But I'll bet that Creature from the Black Lagoon was more fun in 3D than without!

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