Last year, film audiences everywhere witnessed the beginning of the golden era of 3D cinema.
Currently clocking in at a $2.7 billion worldwide gross, 2009’s sci-fi smash hit “Avatar” single-handedly proved to audiences and Hollywood itself that 3D films could be both popular and bankable.
Since December of last year, there has been an exponential rise in 3D films on the roster to be released in the near future, including much-anticipated popular franchise sequels “Toy Story 3,” “Tron Legacy,” and “Shrek Ever After.”
But with this added cinematic luxury comes the consequence of radically higher ticket prices, with at least an extra $5 put on the final price.
But “Avatar” was at least able to show there are films out there which audiences are willing to pay the extra money for 3D viewing.
It appears that films like “Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Clash of the Titans” are the most bankable 3D offerings.
Sophomore Nathan Noga thinks that epic movies hold more of a specific appeal in 3D than in 2D.
“3D is by definition more of an interactive experience than your normal film,” he said. “Take Avatar, a film with great visual effects. Adding 3D to those effects make the already-awesome special effects mind-blowing.”
Noga, who has seen “Avatar” both in 2D and 3D, said he prefers the 3D version.
“It’s without a doubt a better experience with how it stimulates your senses,” he said. “Avatar showed that movies are getting much more appealing visually and that makes it much easier for 3D to amplify those appealing attributes.”
The box office money matches Noga’s thoughts.
“Alice in Wonderland,” for example, has earned nearly $750 million at the box office.
“Clash of the Titans” made over $100 million in its first week of release, even though the film itself was critically slammed and received only a 29 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a Web site dedicated to movie reviews, trailers and news.
Now this is not to say that 3D is necessary for all films.
There is an obvious attraction by viewers to see films in 3D.
That much is shown by Rottentomatoes.com, which states that 3D films account for a full third of all box office revenue since the release of “Avatar.”
According to the Rotten Tomatoes Web site, “Clash of the Titans,” “Avatar,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Alice in Wonderland” account for $1.2 billion of all domestic ticket sales (which fully amount to over $3.5 billion).
In 2009, total box office revenue was $10.6 billion, according to an article posted on thefreelibrary.com.
Noga considers the rise in public interest and acceptance of 3D films to come from the better-looking films that sometimes surpass the at times, been-there-done-that storylines.
“Avatar’s plot wasn’t that original, to be honest,” he said. “So I think a lot of people went to see it and loved it because of the 3D effects combined with the phenomenal visual effects.”
Owen Coughlin, a freshman, agrees. “The big reason (for 3D’s popularity) is the success of Avatar,” he said. “The effects were just incredible and opened the door for a lot of movies to try and grab a piece of that success.”
And apparently, Hollywood studios recognize the potential goldmine of making ‘okay’ movies much more bankable.
“3D enhances special effects so much that it can make fairly boring movies look much more interesting,” said Coughlin.
Vicente Davila, a senior, said he’s unsure as to whether the 3D technology is really that awesome.
“Sure, with Avatar the storyline and graphics were amazing,” he said. “Personally, I enjoyed the 3D part. But now its being overdone and has become an overrated part of movies. The original experience was good, but after a while it begins to wear down on your eyes and your enjoyment. There’s only so long that your eyes can deal with that kind of thing. It’s kind of like a sensory overload.”
So ultimately, what kind of future are we looking at for theaters? So how long can we expect 3D to last as being such a prominent aspect of cinematic theater culture?
Are we just watching a cool fad come and go right before our eyes or are we witnessing the beginning of a massive business model change in the industry?
Davila sees 3D as being this decade’s big trend. “In the 60s, they had rock,” he said. “70s was disco, 80s was rap, 90s was pop, and now in 2010 we’ve got 3D.”
Each decade comes with a trend and it seems 3D is determined to take this one’s vacant spot.
Coughlin, on the other hand, sees 3D as just a fad just like any other fad. “This isn’t the first time 3D has been big,” he said.
Davila’s thoughts are a bit different “As long as they don’t overkill 3D, the industry should be okay,” he said.