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BLOG The 3D Treks Back

On Monday it was announced that tickets for Star Trek into Darkness were going to be available to pre-order. As people heard this news – and it became obvious that the 3D version of the film was the one being given the most screens and seemed to be the one Paramount wanted everyone to see – the “how many cinemas will be showing it in 2D?” question quickly raised its head again. I read of people looking through cinema listings to find the nearest showing of the film in 2D; some had as far as 40 miles to go if they wanted to avoid the dreaded glasses.

It’s already been reported that JJ Abrams was against a 3D Star Trek film until he was basically told that 3D was happening and he didn’t have a choice in the matter. Slashfilm has a round-up of the various things said by Abrams on the subject here . Given Abram’s feelings, and the fact that Star Trek Into Darkness is a post-production 3D conversion, I wasn’t expecting a repeat of previous 3D debacles. But as more and more people hunted for 2D screenings I started to wonder if the paying public were going to be forced to embrace 3D in the same way that the films director seems to have been.

Anyone who’s read past blogs of mine will know my stance on 3D; my dislike of it, my other half’s inability to watch it, and our troubles seeing various films. I thought I’d have a look-see to find out just what the 2D/3D screenings ratio for this film was like. To begin with it looked quite good; the Empire chain looked to have pretty much equal showings across their 17 multiplex chain . Equal numbers of 2D and 3D showings? Can it really be possible?

No, it can’t.

The Showcase chain seems to have a good balance of 2D and 3D in its drop down menu of films coming soon , but Cineworld makes no mention of 2D showings advertised at any of it’s 78 cinemas. But it does acknowledge that the film exists in that format.

The Vue chain make no mention of a 2D version of the film in it’s coming soon list either, although their individual cinema pages have showings listed.

As you can see there seems to be some startling disparity across the major chains. One or two are offering almost as many 2D showings as 3D, others offer just one 2D showing a day – usually in conjunction with far more convenient evening 3D screenings – while others are only offering 3D and have no suggestion that a 2D print even exists anywhere on their sites.

On its twitter feed Paramount is saying, “Over 300 cinemas are currently on sale; over 1/3 are in 2D. More will be added by cinemas nearer to release” so there is still hope for more 2D, although the “1/3 are in 2D” line is a bit disingenuous as some of the cinema are showing the 2D at times which most people will never make. Take the Dumfries 2D showing… Does anyone really expect a week day lunchtime showing to get people in any numbers? No; and once again it’ll show up as a 2D showing which didn’t make as much money as 3D showings at that cinema. And you can bet that’ll be twisted into a winning statistic by the companies pimping out 3D film.

I think I’d have more respect for the cinema chains and distributors if they just manned up and said, “Yes, we’re only showing the film in 3D because that’s the one we want you to see,” rather than saying there will/might be more 2D showings released at some vague future point. Because I’ve heard the “2D showings announced at some future point” line trotted out before and seen it not happen. And the token middle of the day 2D screenings are just an insult and an obvious rigged money loser. As I’ve said before; a lot of money has been spent on 3D technology and they want us to pay for it, even if that means giving us little or no choice in the matter.

It worries me that the limiting of 2D screenings seems to be the norm now. I worry for all the films which I’m looking forward to seeing; with all of the Marvel Phase 2 films due to be released over the next few years and all those films said to be coming both 2 and 3D and with The Wolverine trailer saying “Coming in 3D” with no mention of any other formats at all – something I haven’t seen before – I worry that 3D will be forced upon us more and more. In fact, I worry that my cinema going days may be over and my premiers will become the day I get the DVD or Blu-ray on home release.

Steven Ellis