If Hollywood has its way, the latest 3D movie craze – the one that exploded with Avatar in 2009 – is going to hang around a little longer than some expected. According to movieinsiders.com, filmmakers produced 40 films in 3D last year, a 35 percent increase over the number produced in 2010, and a number of high-profile 3D films are planned for 2012.
It’s a surprising gamble since movie theaters are scrambling to fill seats as Americans struggle to pull themselves out of the Great Recession. After all, tickets to 3D movies are more costly than tickets to traditional 2D flicks.
Some movies now come out in both dimensions (2D and 3D), while others are made specifically for the eye-popping effects. An informal survey by 3Dmovies.com found that 74 percent of those surveyed like 3D movies more than 2D movies, but the Motion Picture Association of America determined that 2D movies still brought in more money than 3D movies in 2010. Traditional 2D movies made $8.4 million in box office while 3D movies earned $2.2 million.
Cool … but costly
So if they like the 3D movies, why do so many movie-goers support the old-fashioned movie? For some, the cost of these movies is an issue. The visual technology makes for a significant jump in the price of 3D movies.
A regular 2D matinee movie ticket from movietickets.com costs $8 for adults and $7 for children, but a matinee 3D movie ticket usually costs $11.50 for adults and $10 for children. Prices are even higher for adult 3D tickets bought after 4 p.m.
“I have never seen a 3D movie because the prices are just too high,” said Fairmont senior Melanie West.
Others like 3D movies but don’t like feeling manipulated by filmmakers. “I’m not against 3D movies, but I am against putting every movie into 3D now so the filmmakers can make more money,” said Fairmont teacher Frank Baxter.
Worth the price or overwhelming?
But 3D movie-goer Sammie Dalton, a freshman, says she likes these films because of how their effects “just pop out in your face.”
Though many criticize the 3rd dimension in movies, others believe the technology enhances the story-telling. Eden Ashley Umble, a writer for Siggraph Online Magazine, says 3D movie effects may provide the audience with “thrills that are visceral as well as visual. Filmmakers are using [3D] technology to tell their stories in a way that is more immediate, more detailed, and more real than ever before, allowing them to push the boundaries of filmmaking to the limits of their imaginations.”
But the 3D effects can be sometimes overwhelming. “I think [3D effects are] overkill. We don’t need all that stuff,” said Baxter.
Some wonder why these movies cost more, since they use some of the same special effects as 2D animated and sci-fi movies. “It’s just an easy way for [filmmakers] to say, ‘OK, we’re going to charge you X amount more dollars for your movie when you’re already paying like $11.’ That’s crazy. The movies are perfectly fine without it,” Baxter said.
Computer Generated Imagery, or CGI, is used specifically in 3D movies to modify actors and actresses to appear more dynamic, but it also is a dominant effect in 2D flicks. CGI can turn a human actor like Andy Serkis into a 25-foot gorilla. CGI also has been used for movies like Avatar. CGI projects little green dots onto the actor, and as he or she plays the character, the computer saves the captured movements for animators to modify later. Films in the past in 2D that used CGI effects are Star Wars and Beowulf.
Traditional 2D movie-goers believe there is still value in old-school special effects. “Traditional special effects supersede CGI effects,” said Fairmont junior A.J. Breslin. Movies like the 1982 thriller The Thing have recently been remade with CGI that enhance the original effects. Breslin believes it’s the traditional special effects that might make the first film better than the remake.
Coming to a living room near you?
Not only has 3D become more popular in movies, but companies like Sony and Panasonic have created 3D televisions, too.
Buyers purchase the 3D television and 3D glasses separately. Prices of 3D televisions range according to size, but prices start at about $1,100. The television has a 3D setting that viewers can turn on, and, after donning 3D glasses, they can see everything on the screen in 3D. Some channels on DirectTV are even in 3D.
“I think it’s just the start,”said Baxter. “They’re probably going to come up with some 4D or something like that. The way technology has kind of overrun itself, something comes out and then six months later it’s completely obsolete.”