Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Moving View Master

Remember how Three Dee was the biggest thing since three-strip Technicolor?

... 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 ...

That was then, this is now. From a fine trade paper today about world box office:

... Audiences also seemed more fatigued than excited by 3D, with the format comprising 14% of the overall box office. That represents its lowest percentage since 2009. A mere 27% of the moviegoing public saw a 3D film in 2014, roughly half of the 52% of the public that checked out the format in 2010, a year in which “Avatar” made most of its $2.8 billion haul. ...

Despite rosy predictions that the Moving View Master was a movie game-changer, the New York Times reported otherwise:

Ripples of fear struck Hollywood last week after Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which cost Walt Disney Studios an estimated $400 million to make and market, did poor 3-D business in North America.

... "The American consumer is rejecting 3-D," Richard Greenfield, an analyst at the financial-services company BTIG [said] ... Consumer rebellion over high 3-D ticket prices plays a role, according to analysts - as does the fading novelty of the funny glasses. ...

TAG blog concurred.

... I spent a year looking at every 3-D release that rolled down the digital highway, Avatar, Christmas Carol, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After, etc. and etc. The DreamWorks features have (for me) the best 3-D going. Jeffrey's crew knows when to punch it, and when to dial it back. DWA's 3-D effects work, I think, to heighten story more than other 3-D presentations.

And still the format leaves me cold. Every time I don the goggles and sit there in the dark I flash on my childhood, sitting on my bed looking at View Master pictures, pushing the little lever, snicking another 3-D color slide into place. ...

The trouble with Three Dee is, it's often a strain to look at and it costs a hell of a lot more than the flat screen version that doesn't hurt your eyes. It was never comparable to color. Everyone sees reality in greens, reds, yellows. Nobody sees it in weird, flat planes that look like a pop-up book.

Or, God help us, Eisenhower-era photo disks in a plastic viewer.


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