In 2009, James Cameron’s mind-boggling Avatar took its place along side such films as Birth of a Nation, The Jazz Singer, Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, Jaws, and Star Wars as one of the very few trail-blazing game changers in film history. So dazzling was the artistry and brilliance of our complete immersion into the world of Pandora that the film became the highest-grossing movie of all time. I remember sitting with my wife watching the film in 3D on the day it was released, and being utterly spellbound and slack-jawed at the world into which we, as viewers, seemed to be alive in ourselves, rather than just viewing in a movie theater. As wonderful as Avatar is, it’s just not the same experience when you see it on DVD in a regular 2D format.
Unfortunately, The New Hollywood, awash in red ink, corporate paralysis, and a singular lack of direction, has attached itself to 3D like a drowning person clinging to a life preserver. And that analogy is not just a metaphor.
Avatar in 3D raised the bar on admission prices to as much as $15 per ticket, even more in some major metropolitan areas. Avatar, however, was one of those every twenty years or so kind of phenomena that also wound up satisfying its hype and expectations.
The New Hollywood’s response? Hey, people will pay more for 3D films so let’s turn everything we can possibly find into a 3D movie and gouge everybody as quickly as we can before they realize that 3D does not make a lousy movie any better, it just costs more to attend. Clash of The Titans, anyone?
So now, we are being besieged with 3D versions of films that are being altered into a 3D format just to charge more money at the box office. Just what audiences need and want right now. Increase the cost of the movie experience just when it already was discouraging people from attending theaters. Kind of like, “Hey, we can’t sell any of those Edsels—let’s raise the prices!” And we know what happened to those Edsels.
This weekend, my wife Lauren and I saw trailers for several animated young kids’ films that are going to be presented in 3D, including a new Yogi Bear film. As if parents need the cost burden of young kids with those 3D glasses stuck on their faces, at exorbitant prices, to watch a Yogi Bear cartoon that they can also watch at home on Saturday morning.
We were also just treated to Jackass 3D and Saw 39 (or 7 or something) in 3D. Just what we need in 3D. A how-to film for teenagers showing how they can cripple or even kill themselves and a horror film showing those same teenagers how to cripple and kill other people. Do we hear the haunting strains of “Hooray for Hollywood” anywhere?
Seriously, we the audience need to heed an old adage here. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Message to The New Hollywood from all this?
Technology may have saved you in the past with DVDs, etc., but not anymore. There are some great story-first movies out there now: Hereafter, The Social Network, and Secretariat come to mind. None of them are in 3D. They’re just well written, produced, directed, and acted.
What’s next? Oh, maybe those ads theaters show now before the film can also actually be shown in 3D?
Wouldn’t that be great?
I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to be in a deodorant commercial.