Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3-D Boost

President Koch and I lunched with an industry person today, and the subject of 3-D came up. One of us questioned whether cinema in three dimensions was a Fad or a Permanent Phenomena. I offered the opinion that it would soon be as prevalent as color.

Full confession here: I was one of those people who was skeptical that 3-D had staying power, but day by day, I'm becoming a believer:

... Disney-Pixar's 3-D toon "Up" has enough lift to likely become the second-highest-grossing Pixar title at the domestic B.O. after "Finding Nemo."

Through Sunday, "Up's" domestic total was $187.4 million -- the second best of any summer film to date. Par's "Star Trek" has cumed $231.9 million.

"Up's" boffo run is the latest example of how 3-D runs can boost a film's bottom line through higher ticket prices. The film's 3-D runs make up only 40% of the total screen count, yet they contribute 60% of the gross ...

Forget for the moment that Pixar's latest uptrend blows Jim Hill's theory of Emeryville's ever-declining revenues into a raggedy hand-basket. Think about what 3-D is doing to animation just now. Not only did it aid tremendously in making Monsters Vs. Aliens a dmoestic hit, but it's goosing Up's overall numbers in a major way.

This continuing shower of legal tender insures that 3-D will keep expanding geometrically. It won't be long before a majority of theaters have dimensional capability, and at that point, producers will be shooting most pictures in 3-D because it will be increasingly risky not to.

I'm betting in a couple of years 3-D will be close to critical mass, and live action in three dimensions will be as widespread as Cinemascope was half a century ago. At that point, bins of cheap polarized glasses will be everywhere, and you wouldn't be able avoid them if you wanted to.

So get ready for darker screens (because those viewing glasses reduce light) and View Master panoramas. You'll be seeing a lot of them.


Michael Sporn said...

The success of 3D caused Jack Warner to close his animation department because he didn't believe animation would work in the process. Within two years the fad had dwindled and it didn't bring in greater box office.

Are we going through a repeat of the past (except now we charge for glasses)?

Anonymous said...

" would soon be as prevalent as color."

Oh, the irony of that comment. The projection and the glasses dim the brightness and color about 30%. I'm not "anti-3D," by why would any artist or director want to pee on their creation like that?

And anyone who would give the irrelevant jim hill ANY credit for ANY theory should be taken to task. Referring to him in any way gives him a certain cache he has not earned. Please stop.

Anonymous said...

Who pays any attention to anything Jim Hill says?

Anonymous said...

I know this is off subject, but for the record Jim Hill use to post some very interesting behind the scenes stories about Disney and the parks and rides and... well, everything. Then he would start stories and never finish them. Then he didn't even start them. That was a few years ago. Since then he has turned out your daily dose of, "we already know that news" or "we don't care about another book coming out" or "Wow, you went up in a lawn chair with balloons in Boston". He just plain sucks now. I think getting kicked out of Disneyland a few years ago is when he changed his "toon"

r said...

Jim who?


Steve Hulett said...

Sorry to mention him.

Mea Culpa.

Anonymous said...

Mea Culpa.

Yeah, and there's too much of her on this blog, too ... ;)

C:) said...

I am unconvinced that 3-D isn't a fad and I have partaken in creating a couple. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is a way for the studios to get the theater chains to pony up the big bucks to convert their screens into digital projections. Thereby lessening the cost of prints. The theaters need a reason to pay up so studios start cranking out 3D pics (in digital) and the theaters jump on the band wagon. Big ticket sales, big money. Easy math. What remains to be seen is once the theaters have converted enough screens, they will lessen the 3D output and create regular films in digital projects saving a ton of money in print costs, deliveries and piracy fears. 5 years tops.

Jerry Beck has my back: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/3d

Anonymous said...

There will still be piracy, it just won't involve stealing reels of film at gun point. Some clever guy will hack into a theater's digital movie server and get himself a clean copy.

I also think the higher performance of 3D theaters is misleading. They are just draining sales that would have gone to regular screens. When releases are on all 3D screens the grosses will look just like they did before.

The cinema owners recoup part of their conversion cost by charging a "digital print" fee for every showing of a digital movie. I don't know how high that fee is but I bet it and cost of conversion of media to the proprietary digtal format is enough to continue making it difficult for independents to get their work into theaters, just like the cost of making a 35mm print has been.

Floyd Norman said...

I've seen all the recent animated releases in the normal, non-3D way. It's cool for those who enjoy the extra dimension, but for me, I prefer my depth in the story and film making.

I know I'm a codger, but I was so over this fad back in the fifties.

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