To 3D or Not to 3D

Warner Bros. has just announced that they are *NOT* initially releasing the next Harry Potter film in 3D. While they still intend to do a 3D version, it’ll be released at a later date (this translates as “in theaters never” to those who may lack an understanding of studio-speak). This is a major reversal in that they’ve been actively promoting 3D releases for the past few years – though one must keep in mind that they’re the studio responsible for the abysmal “Clash of the Titans” 3D release — methinks they may have learned their lesson.

What does this really mean? Well, 3D has become a value-add in the past few years. But audiences are rapidly coming to the conclusion that it doesn’t enhance the theatrical experience beyond the novelty value. Films which exploit 3D for shock value are cool. Films which push 3D to its practical limits are cool. Anything else is kinda lame. So if you’re not making “Piranha” or “Avatar” then you need to treat 3D as an “extra” rather than a key selling point.

In fact, releasing a film in “3D” is probably a kiss-of-death if the production doesn’t fall into the aforementioned categories – in order to be acceptable the show must showcase 3D as a key component of the viewing experience. Just “tacking it on” is going to be perceived as an insult to viewers and a good reason to NOT participate in a theatrical viewing. I think this is already happening, but it’s damn hard to interpret box-office receipts given the deliberately confusing numbers spewed out by studios. Six months from now, however, it’s likely to be considered common knowledge. I suppose we can only hope.

I’m going to stick with the assessment I’ve promoted for some time now – that 3D is neither essential nor game-changing in the theatrical world. The rise of widely distributed, independent low-budget productions in 2-freaking-D has far more impact on the entertainment industry than adding that extra dimension.

Meh – that’s where I’ll leave my sentiments for now. /rant ends.

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