Originally Published: April 8, 2005
It looks like 3D films will soon have a second renaissance. 3D attempted a comeback in the 80’s, with films like Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th 3D. I don’t think the problem was the quality of the 3D technology, it was the quality of the filmmaking. Most of those films released were hack sequels that, as most sequels do, fail to live up to their predecessors. The 3D was just another gimmick to get us into theaters.
Titanic director James Cameron, Stars Wars director George Lucas and even Lord of the Rings creator Peter Jackson want fans to forget those odd spectacles. I previously reported on all of the 3D anouncements made at ShoWest, including the likelihood of all 6 Star Wars films being re-released in 3D theatrically (See article HERE).
Well, it looks like new films like James Cameron’s 2007 science fiction adventure Battle Angel, will also push the technology to new heights.
3D movies will not replace traditional films. Audiences will get two versions of the same movie for different experiences, and studios and theaters get two films to market. Glasses are needed to view the new 3D, although the cardboard cut-outs with blue and red lenses are replaced by plastic frames and clear lenses.
Behind this new push for 3D is a combination of factors, including a major industry overhaul called digital cinema, which means projecting movies on-screen from digital files, as opposed to filmstrip and competition from home viewing systems, which are improving in cost and quality everyday.
The technology is supported by Hollywood’s major studios because they will cut costs on shipping thousands of filmstrips around the world. They will transmit digital files via satellite that are stored on computer networks inside of theaters. But the transition will be expensive – perhaps costing as much as $3.6 billion over the next several years.
Theater owners are demanding studios pay, and they want new types of content and movies to help pack houses. Directors say they have one answer – 3D.
George Lucas, whose Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith hits theaters next month, wants to re-release the entire Star Wars series in 3D starting in 2007, and Peter Jackson says that a re-release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy may be coming.
Three-dimensional movies date back to the origins of filmmaking before the 20th century, but 1950s that 3D hit big in Hollywood. Showman Sidney W. Pink was among the vanguard of filmmakers in the arena, producing 1952’s Bwana Devil about man-eating lions. One year after Bwana Devil, Warner Brothers re-released a 3D version of Vincent Price’s House of Wax.
Warner Bros. is also among the backers of new 3D technology after seeing great box office 2004’s 3D version of Christmas movie The Polar Express at giant screen IMAX theaters. The film made $45 million at IMAX equipped screens.
So look for some major Hollywood releases coming soon in 3D to a technologically equipped theater near you.