The 3D films coming at you - Monocolumn | Monocle


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10 December 2010

After almost 30 years and weeks of heavy-duty PR, press junkets, special trailer screenings and a soundtrack launch, Tron: Legacy – the sequel of the 1982 cutting-edge sci-fi Tron, is being released, adding another title to the long list of this Christmas’s 3-D bonanza.

The film will not disappoint film fanatics, at least not the ones with realistic expectations – it entertains with mind-blowing digital effects but simultaneously falls flat with its predicable storyline and naff script. Still, it’s enough to meet the appétit of the world’s increasingly large audience of three-dimensional films.

The ghost of 3-D has surreptitiously but persistently haunted moviegoers for decades. From the 1903′s Edwin S. Porter’s ground breaker The Great Train Robbery through to the three dimensional porn films in the 1970s or the loud sci-fi Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn in 1983, to the latest cheesy horror films, the third dimension has been digging, slowly and surely, into our film preferences.

Since last year, that third dimension has gone hand in blue hand with James Cameron’s Avatar, one of the biggest success stories in cinematic history. Released in December 2009, it was one of the most important 3-D films ever released – and most profitable. In its opening weekend, $62m (€46m) of its revenue was generated from 3-D screens, compared to only $14m (€10m) in 2-D theatres.

It’s not just the special effects of the big blockbusters that has got the world suddenly donning ugly goggles. Last winter also saw the release of Robert Zemeckis’s Christmas Carol. Making just above $320m (€240m), it proved that even 3-D animated takes on classics such as Dickens could keep the cash rolling in, especially during the Christmas holidays.

“Christmas is one of the most profitable periods of the year for the 3-D industry, as most of the films are appropriate for all ages,” says Jim Chabin, president of the International 3-D Society. This December is case in point – Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, Yogi Bear, Gulliver’s Travels and of course Tron: Legacy are all being released within days of each other.

“3-D is the next big thing,” says Chabin, who compares it to the shift from black and white to colour cinema. And it doesn’t stop here – by 2012, half of the video games will be 3-D, and the annual sales of three-dimension TV sets are expected to reach 40 million.

“There is already a firm in California, In-Three, that turns two-dimensional films into stereoscopic 3-D. All films will be done in 3-D by 2015,” he adds.

The 60 3-D film releases queued up for the next two years, with heavy-weight directors such as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in the line-up, are there to prove him right. However, the thought of seeing Taxi Driver in 3D… it’s just wrong.


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