3D Movies: Will They Save the Movie Industry?

By: Brooke Davenport

In a world where movie piracy, Netflix, and OnDemand pose an amazing threat, many believe that 3D is the answer to the movie industry’s problems. Although people are not going to the movies anymore, I do not think that 3D is the quick fix that the industry is looking for. The business model needs to be reevaluated and the industry needs to give moviegoers an incentive to actually go out to the movie theaters.

According to Paul Dergarabedian at Hollywood.com, 2010 was the second lowest attended year of the decade (only 2008 was lower) and this past summer was the lowest attended in over a decade. The Top 5 Grossing Movies of 2010 were Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man 2, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and Inception. Although the top 2 films were in fact 3D, “the U.S. consumer is becoming increasingly less interested in 3D movies. While the horror and gross-out comedy genres may benefit from 3D (think Saw 3D or Jackass 3D), the vast majority of 3D movies this year have been disappointing at best” (Finke).

3D technology is nothing new to the world. It has actually been around for quite some time now. 3D images have been around for almost 200 years. The technology was invented in the later part of the 1800’s but in 1915, 3D cinema became a reality. Edwin S. Porter put on the first ever 3D screening, using anaglyph (the system where you where the two-color glasses). This was not a full film, but instead a “’proof-of-concept’, with unconnected blocks of footage” (Saint). On September 27, 1922, a film titled The Power of Love shot in red-green anaglyph was shown to an audience at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The film itself was a flop, but it generated a mini-boom in 3D movies over the next several years (Saint).

So why does the movie industry insist on dishing out more and more movies in 3D? After the success of Avatar, Hollywood was hot to jump on the 3D bandwagon. The owners of movie theaters and studio executives smell money. The industry heads charge more for 3D movies and the more of them they show, the more profit they make. That means if they have the resources to do it, you can bank on the fact that they will show it in 3D. But, to me, 3D is a gimmick with problems. There is a time and place for it, but not every movie deserves or needs to be shown using 3D technology. Content is king. Technology merely “serves as the frame to the mural of the movie” (Finke). The subject, characters, plots, and passions of the movie is what makes if appealing to moviegoers. The story is the backbone to any film, despite what technical wizardry you may employ. I feel as if particular movies make use of 3D to mask the fact that you are viewing a horrible film.

3D also poses some physiological effects. Roughly 5% of the population cannot see in 3D at all. Their depth perception cannot be tricked. Even with the 3D glasses on, they still see it as 2 separate channels. The remaining 95% will sometimes experience some negative physical effects. Usually, when an object come towards us, our “eyes turn inwards and out eyes’ lenses change shape to compensate for the alteration in depth to keep the focus. With 3D, because our eyes are being tricked, they only turn inwards, the lenses do not change shape” (Finke). As a result of this phenomenon, prolonged viewing of 3D can cause eyestrain and nausea because the body cannot counteract for the trickery. In addition, RealD, the company that creates the 3D glasses, have issued statements that say that the “3D viewing glasses have not been regulated by the FDA and that there may be possibilities of that happening in the future. Viewing with the eyewear could cause vision fatigue, headaches, motion sickness, or other health risks” (Dignan).

If the film industry’s goal is to get people back into theaters, I believe that they need to make people fall in love with the cinema again. In this case, the way to do it is quality over quantity. I am not suggesting that studios put on mushy love films or serious period dramas; I am merely saying that they need to start producing real, quality films. Films that take the audience to another world, make them think, and allow themselves to become absorbed in the plotlines. However, business is business. Money is the primary objective for most major studios, and that is the issue. They need to take the moviegoer into account.

Works Cited

Dergarabedian, Paul. (2010, December 29). Box Office a Bummer in 2010. http://www.hollywood.com/news/Box_Office_a_Bummer_in_2010/7744901

Dignan, Larry. (2010, April 12). Will 3D Glasses be Regulated by the FDA? http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/smart-takes/will-3d-glasses-be-regulated-by-the-fda/5846/

Finke, Nikki. (2010, December 31). Warner Bros Wins 2010 Film Market Share; Year’s Box Office Grosses Not A Record; Overall Movie Attendance Down Sharply; Should Studios Slash Number of 3D Pics? http://www.deadline.com/2010/12/warner-bros-wins-2010-market-share-years-box-office-grosses-wont-set-record-should-moguls-reduce-number-of-3d-movies/

Saint, Nick. (2010, July 9). From Stereoscopes to Porn to Avatar: The 110-Year History of 3D Movies. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-weird-history-of-3d-2010-7#

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