I’ve never seen a 3D movie. And I can’t say that I want to.
I know, I know. I’m breaking that cardinal rule, which my grandmother always tried to remind me of as a child: don’t knock it till you try it. It’s particularly bad given that I’m a Cinema Studies student; I should be open-minded and embrace the evolution of the medium, right?
I do not count myself among those who consider 3D technology to be a passing fad, as it was in the 1950s. 60 years ago, the technology was primitive: several projectors were used to display several overlapping images. If even one was on the wrong position, or a frame too late, the picture would be ruined, and the audience would likely leave with blinding headaches. Today, digital 3D projectors have eliminated these issues, and a clear image requires nothing more than the press of a button. It’s not likely that this technology will fade away any time soon.
In fact, my issue is that it is so likely to be a permanent fixture. Let me explain. The “middle class” film production has largely fallen by the wayside in recent years. Mid-level budgets (~$50 million, let’s say) have disappeared, and the landscape is even more polarized, with films either being made for “indie” budgets (~ under $20 million) or massive ones (well into the $100 million range). But even the indie films are struggling, when it comes to major production companies. Many art-house subsidiaries of majors have shut down in recent years and successful films are more likely to have been made on micro budgets (consider 2010’s Winter’s Bone, at a paltry $2 million) and sold to distributors after the fact.
Money for small movies is scarce, and getting more so. And guess what makes studios more money? 3D films, for which they can charge an extra $7 (or more) per ticket. I can’t help but think that given the recent 3D boom, and its moneymaking potential, studios will be shifting more and more of their resources to 3D productions, leaving less and less space on the landscape for anything else. Because after all, no one wants to see Winter’s Bone in 3D.
What do you think? Is there room in the market for 2D films among the 3D blockbusters? Does this signal a more profound shift in moviegoing practices? As it were, I will be seeing the final instalment of Harry Potter in 3D in the upcoming weeks (the theatre is not playing any shows in 2D; believe me, I checked) so perhaps I will be eating my own words, come July 15th.