Die Zukunft von 3D

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3D-Filme haben in den letzten Jahren die Kinos förmlich überschwemmt. Nach dem Erfolg von „Avatar“ wurden Filme in 3D gedreht oder nachträglich in die dritte Dimension gebracht. Und Anfang Februar beglückt uns George Lucas mit „Star Wars – Episode I“ in 3D – wozu ihn James Cameron auch noch gedrängt hatte.

Aber was soll das Ganze? Schon die letzten 3D-Wellen in den 50er- und 80er-Jahren waren kurzlebig. Kann die aktuelle anhalten?

Nach dem Klick ein Artikel aus dem November, geschrieben für einen meiner Kurse im schönen Memphis.

(Bild via Obvious Winner)

Moviegoers who went to see “The Three Musketeers 3-D” this October were the first to see the trailer for „Star Wars – Episode I in 3-D“. The remake will hit theaters in February 2012, followed by the rest of the six-film saga.

George Lucas is known for tweaking his Star Wars movies with every new release. With this one, he is capitalizing the current 3-D movie hype.

“I’ve never seen a single 3-D movie in my life,” 64-year-old Lillie Facelli says. “Personally, I don’t care too much for them.”

That is unusual enough in times when 3-D movies top the sales ranks. It is even more unusual as Facelli is the manager of the Malco Towne Cinema in Collierville, Tenn. Her cinema profits from the hype that started with “Avatar” in 2009 – the most successful film of all times, grossing at almost $3 billion worldwide. Industry analysts say 3-D on average adds 20 percent to a movie’s income.

“With the way they’re going now, I think that 3-D will stay big”, Lillie Facelli says. “Even all the TVs are going 3-D.”

While the industry is optimistic, many critics doubt that 3-D hype will continue. When many movies have effects for effects’ sake, is the future three-dimensional?

Daniel Linton, film instructor at the Department of Communication of the University of Memphis, is one of the doubtful.

“The number of 3-D productions may hold steady for an extended period, but throughout Hollywood history, 3-D has tended to be more of a fad – it gets popular for a while then tapers off,” he says.

The short times are over when 3-D would guarantee success. This April, Disney’s “Mars Needs Moms” was the first 3-D movie of the current wave to be widely unsuccessful – and led Disney to close the studio that produced the film.

Times of popularity for 3-D movies in the 1950s and 1980s were short. The current one seems to be holding on longer than usual, Daniel Linton says. He pins that down to the improved technology – 3-D today looks better than it did in the past.

“Also, the absence of the previously dorky-looking glasses may give this run some greater staying power,” Linton adds.

James Cameron, director of “Avatar”, compared the 3-D hype to the mass of movies with poorly-made computer-generated images that came out after the success of “Toy Story” in 1995. Likewise, the 3-D effects in many of today’s movies are only added to appeal to the market.

James Cameron erklärt 3D

But Daniel Linton does not think the quality of the effects matters that much.

“The average moviegoer doesn’t know the difference between ‚true‘ 3-D productions and standard 2-D productions that have had afterthought effects added in post-production,” he says.

“And since most of the customers for movies that get the 3-D treatment skew younger, quality is not as high a priority as it would be with older moviegoers.”

Lillie Facelli confirms that. “Most of the movies are for kids, and they can’t tell about the quality differences. They just love to see those movies and the effects,” she says. She hardly gets any complaints about the quality of the effects.

As an accessory to the story, 3-D effects are viable, Daniel Linton says. “But too often the 3-D trumps the script. Filmmakers should always be sure that their films can flourish in a 2-D world, and use 3-D for bonus points.”

Linton says “Avatar” was one of the movies that are made well enough to function even without the gimmicks.

“Other movies are just fireworks for the eyes,” he says. But those fireworks themselves can cause some trouble, too.

In a letter to movie critic Roger Ebert, film editor Walter Murch commented on eyesight problems when watching 3-D movies. It is hard to focus on an object that appears to change its proximity when really the eyes are converging on the movie screen at a constant distance. This can result in headaches and nausea, he says.

However, it does not keep the people from seeing the movies. Lillie Facelli only had few complaints.

“Pregnant women sometimes get nauseous. Others just can’t watch the movies; it makes them sick to their stomachs. But those are not that many,” she says.

She is optimistic when it comes to the future. Now, more people are coming to the theaters because of 3-D.

“We definitely make more money,” she says. Ticket prices for 3-D movies are $2 higher for adults, $1 for children.

Two years ago, her cinema equipped three of their showing rooms with the newest projectors required to show 3-D movies – as a direct result of the 3-D surge. The other rooms are set to get digital technology within the next year. The investments are paying off.

And money is what it ultimately comes down to, according to Daniel Linton.

“As long as Hollywood sees a significant return on their investment at the box office, it’ll be on the table,” he says.

Next year’s three-dimensional Star Wars could disappoint die-hard fans of the original version. The cash registers might look forward to it.

“That movie will be really big thing”, Lillie Facelli says.

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