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BLOG Is 3D Losing Its Lustre?

It seems the 3D fad just might be coming to an end… It’s been a while since I had a moan about 3D isn’t it? I’ve written some pretty angry blogs about the 3D-ification of our cinemas here on the SFX website. It’s a bug bear of mine. I’ve said pretty everything I have to say about 3D. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. My other half can’t see it. We avoid it. And it’s something I thought I’d put to bed: said my piece and moved on. I thought I’d reached a “don’t like it so lump it” state of mind. But it seems that 3D might finally be losing its popularity.

In my last blog on the subject I mentioned the habit of omitting even the mention of 2D versions of films in trailers and on posters. I predicted that we’d see more and more of it. And I was right. Over the summer this I’ve seen big billboard posters advertising The Wolverine : “Coming in 3D”. No mention of 2D at all and it was the same with that film’s trailer. There have been several other trailers for upcoming films which have omitted to mention 2D. The last one I saw was for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug which failed to mention 2D in their end-of-trailer credits. It was the same for posters advertising the film, the only formats mentioned were 3D, HFR (Higher Frame Rate) 3D and IMAX 3D. Again there was no mention of poor old 2D.

We all know that the film makers/distributors would like us to buy the 3D tickets. We know they want to be able to justify the money spent on the technology so they promote the higher ticker price of 3D to the detriment of 2D. We understand that that’s why they make 3D tickets available for pre-order weeks or even months before they bother to release 2D tickets; 2D tickets sometimes aren’t released until after the film is out on 3D. We get that that’s why there are often limited 2D showings at our multiplexes (the ratio is usually 2-1 in favour of 3D although some chains are better than others), often at inconvenient times, and why some cinemas don’t even get 2D prints at all. But this trend of now not even acknowledging the existence of 2D in their advertising is making me really angry. I just hate the tactics being used to promote 3D.

Earlier this year Digital Spy reported on a poll that found some US cinema goers were tired of paying a premium price for 3D tickets. The Daily Mail has reported similar feelings over here.

I’ve never been a fan of 3D but I have no problem with people who do like it. I just want ticket and screening parity; if these falls in ticket sales make the 2D/3D ticket availability even out then I’ll be happy. I don’t want the format to die; I just want a fair balance between the two. I want to be able to see a film in whatever format I want and I want to be able to find that choice easy to make. This seems to be happening; all the big films released this year have been as easy to find in 2D as they were in 3D which is a marked improvement on the two previous years.

I doubt 3D is going to go away completely. Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe looks set to bring all of its films in that format (all seem to be undergoing post production conversions to 3D) and with reports of James Cameron working on three – yes THREE! – Avatar sequels , there are certainly some big 3D films in the future. But it’s looking increasingly like they’ll all be as easy to find on both formats as the big films released this year have been. And if that happens then I’ll be happy to shut up about 3D.

Steven Ellis