Posted by: jgurner | March 30, 2010

3D or not 3D, that is the question…

For a while not, I’ve been rumbling about the latest obsession with 3D movies. It started innocently enough with a 3D movie here and there, but they were all basically movies I had no interest in seeing. Plus, even though the chain theater in Oxford had gone digital and offered 3D movies, the indy theater in Oxford was not equipped for 3D and I could just wait a few weeks if need be and see a movie there. Again, not that there was anything offered in 3D that I really wanted to see.

Of course, now, things have changed. The indy theater closed last fall and, since the enormity of Avatar, everything is in 3D.

My first real experience with modern 3D was a few years ago while visiting the Kennedy Space Center and I watched the Imax 3D movie on the International Space Station. To be honest, I slept though most of it, not because it was boring. It wasn’t. But, I’d been in Florida a week. I cant sleep in hotel rooms. I’d gotten up really early that morning and the theater was nice and dark and cozy and very uncrowded.

I did, however, see enough of it to confirm what I already knew – 3D doesn’t work for me.

I was born with a bad left eye. It kind of does its own thing and I basically can’t see out of it at all. I have no real depth perception, and, when I watch a 3D movie all I see is a movie that’s tinted red. Plus, I get a little dizzy and headachy because my body is trying to use an eye that basically doesn’t work.

Last year, I tried again and went to see Coraline. Again, I had no choice since the theater in which I saw it had it 3D only. Again, I was frustrated. I experimented with the glasses. With watching the movie without them. With closing one eye or another or flipping the glasses upside down. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t until I got the 2D Blu-ray version months later that I realized just how cool the movie looked.

And, of course, I had the same experience with Avatar. Again, only in 3D, unless I wanted to drive an hour or more to see it and, I’m sorry, I’m just not going to do that.

As with Coraline, I’m looking forward to the Blu-ray release of Avatar, so I can finally see what the movie really looks like.

A year ago, I’d hoped 3D was just going to be a fad that went away fairly quickly. But, because of Avatar, and because theaters can charge more for 3D movies and pad their profit margins, it looks like 3D is here to stay. But, as more and more movies are either being made as 3D or, like some recently and soon to be released movies, converted to 3D, I find myself going to the movies less and less. And, in fact, looking ahead, I see a summer where I probably won’t be heading to the cinema very often.

Already I’ve passed on Tim Burton’s Alice, a movie I really wanted to see. Fortunately, the 2D Blu-ray will be coming out in less than three months, so, I can wait. This weekend will see Clash of the Titans, which wasn’t supposed to be 3D, but the money grubbing studio decided to have it converted. Another one I was looking forward to, now I’ll wait for the Blu-ray.

And in the coming months, here are the movies I really was looking forward to but won’t be going to, unless they happen to be showing in 2D nearby:

Toy Story 3
Despicable Me
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1
And, of course, Tron Legacy.

There are probably more, but I can’t think of them right off the top of my head. Plus, there’s the chance that studios will decided to convert other movies to 3D.

The one that really gets me, though, is Tron Legacy. I’ve been waiting almost three decades for this movie. If Avatar and Alice are any indication, if I want to see this when it’s released I’ll have to drive to Memphis in order to see it in 2D. And the theaters that have been showing 2D versions of recent movies aren’t really theaters I want to drive over an hour to go to.

And, of course, I’m sure as more and more blockbuster movies are shown in 3D, the more studios will be scrambling to put more 3D content out there. Especially now that 3D TV is on its way.

Meanwhile, there will still be plenty of us who, for whatever reason can’t, or won’t, go along with the 3D craze. We will just have to wait patiently until these movies are release on DVD or Blu-ray. And, guess what, Hollywood, that’s a pretty decent number of people. Sure, we may buy the DVD or Blu-ray and you’ll get that money, but, we probably would have done that even if we saw the movie at the theater, so there’s a big chunk of change you’ll be losing.

Of course, the upside of this, at least for me, is by waiting for the home video release, I’m saving a ton of money by not going to the theater. Even if I buy a movie on Blu-ray, it’s still cheaper than two 3D tickets. So, in a way, I guess I really ought to be thanking Hollywood’s greed for keeping me out of the theater.

Plus, my popcorn is soooo much better than what you get at the theater.



  1. I’m pretty much with Ebert on the whole 3-D thing. It’s by and large a gimmick — and an artistically shallow gimmick, at that — and a prompt to jack up ticket prices.

    Of course, it CAN be used to good effect, but most of the time it’s not. Like most techniques, I guess, but the ratio of art:crap seems even more skewed crapward in the case of 3-D

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