[UPDATE: Universal has informed us that Robin Hood is not going to be in 3D; take the remainder of Times Online’s story with grains of salt] “The Avatar Effect,” as it’s now being called, has affected another film as the Times Online reports that Ridley Scott has asked Universal for another $8 million so he can give the 3D treatment to turn upcoming film, Robin Hood. Studios are also planning to take some of their top-grossing, big-budget titles and re-release them in 3D. Here’s what an associate of George Lucas said about getting the Star Wars film in 3D:
“George cannot leave it alone,” said an associate. “He is salivating at the opportunity to play with it again. This time the Death Star is really going to explode all over the audience and leave them gasping.”
All that innuendo is making my brain short-circuit. TO also reports that The Fellowship of the Ring could be headed for a 3D re-release in 2012, building off the presumed success of Guillermo Del Toro’s adaptation of The Hobbit. However, according to Times Online, it could take as little as four-months to retro-fit an old film with 3D technology. Hit the jump for more about The Avatar Effect and my thoughts on whether movies are going 3D for good.
Times Online quotes “experts” who say that this will be as a dramatic a shift as when talking pictures kill off the silent ones. Not exactly the most apt analogy since sound utilized an entirely different sense. The more appropriate comparison would be the transition from black-and-white to color, and that may happen. However, I do believe there’s a limit. In the mid-80s, Ted Turner attempted to “colorize” classic films. Artists in Hollywood protested and the cost of the technology forced it to be abandoned, but some did like the idea. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, but I do believe there’s a limit and no one wants to see Casablanca or The Apartment in 3D.
Bobby Jaffe, the chairman of Legend Films, which is one of the few companies that can convert celluloid into 3D, makes an argument I mostly agree with:
“We can turn an older film into 3-D in around 16 weeks. It mostly suits action films, such as Top Gun or The Matrix, but Avatar proved it’s best to use the technology to immerse the audience in the story rather than throw things at them. This is the new, more sophisticated era of 3-D.”
I would add that 3D requires the filmmaker to be more involved with the process than colorization. A filmmaker has to fine-tune the depth of field, and so while the conversion process may only take four months, I imagine it may take longer as a director goes through his entire movie and tries to see how the 3D enhances the story (although that may not always be the case; see previous statement about Lucas).
With the combined advent of 3DTVs headed to stores later this year, I do believe that 3D is here to stay, but I’m reluctant to agree with David Wertheimer, the director of the University of South California’s entertainment technology center when he says “It will quickly become the new norm. It’s no longer a gimmick, but an expectation.” Perhaps for big-budget blockbusters, but the technology still remains far too expensive for all the other movies.
But the ultimate question here is, “Should this be the new norm?” Coming back to the original story, has anyone looked at the trailers for Robin Hood and thought, “This movie would be better in 3D.” The setting of Robin Hood is an attempt at real-world history so why bring in technology that’s completely incongruous with that setting? The Lord of the Rings is already a fantastical story, but do we really need Top Gun in 3D? 3D is a premium theater-going experience. Finally, keep in mind that Cameron shot Avatar with 3D in mind. People will walk out of some of these movies regretting that they saw it in 3D, and even when they see it advertised, they may wonder if it’s really worth paying the extra five-to-ten dollars so they can “experience” Russell Crowe shooting an arrow into their faces.