Has Hollywood's greed hurt 3D?
I feel like slapping my forehead and saying "Doh!", but it does seem obvious that Hollywood's desire to milk every last drop of profit out of a latest trend or genre for as little cost as possible has resulted in the latest trend or genre pushing audiences away and a dearth of bad films. That comment is not just about 3D, but it's the Hollywood studio model unfortunately, that's why we see runs of films of the same type when one studio has a seemingly new idea.
In this story though, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO at DreamWorks, has spoken out about the 3D trend and has said some rather revealing things, especially for someone who has lobbied hard for 3D and for increased cinema ticket prices.
Since 3D arrived on the scene and Avatar (Filmstalker review) really blew us away, it has been touted as the new way to watch everything, we're being forced to see it in the cinemas with less and less 2D screenings (and rising ticket prices), home televisions are now having 3D included whether you want it or not, new Blu-ray and upgradeable devices have had 3D added, and we're even seeing games devices with 3D. We're being told it's the way of the future, and yet content for 3D is very limited unless you go to the cinema, and when you do it's extremely poor.
Either we're watching films where everything flies at the screen and scenes are built around this premise alone, slapping you in the face and reminding you that you are sitting in a cinema and watching a film, the exact opposite of what a film should be doing, or we're seeing flat 3D that doesn't really do anything inspiring. One wonders where the magic of Avatar has gone.
The answer is budget and cost. The studios are just trying to get as much out of the audience as possible in the cheapest way possible, post production 3D is one of them. Film your film then hand it to an overseas company to effectively "cut out" the 3D bits from each frame and mount them on foam board. Not quite the process, but that's effectively what's happening in the computer.
You can see a similar cost return drive with the 3D televisions. If you want to buy a 3D television you still have to buy one with the glasses, not one of the new ones that have been developed where you don't need glasses, they're "not ready" for the public and are being held back. Could this be to get a decent return on all those 3D glasses sets before introducing the next upgrade?
"...driven by a singular and unique characteristic that only exists in Hollywood, greed.."
He believes that the filmmakers are at fault too as they...
"...thought they could just deliver a kind of low-end crappy version of it, and people wouldn't care, or wouldn't know the difference. And nothing could have been further from the truth."
I love this bit, he goes further saying that over the last seven to eight months Hollywood as released...
"...the worst lineup of movies you've experienced in the last five years of your life."
Now I hope those quotes aren't ripped out of context, I'm only giving you what I have access to, but it is quite damning and also revealing that these executives do know what's going on with the audiences, they aren't just blindly pouring out the rubbish to get our hard earned cash.
Still, he's insistent that it will be the way forward and interest will continue to grow as more and more top directors use the technology. Now that sounds a little like a mixed message, is it the filmmakers fault or the fault of the studios and their budget and production restraints? Why will top directors necessarily be able to produce the higher end films without the studio committing to the cost and the development time?
For me it's not the filmmakers so much and it is the studios. They're the ones pushing 3D because the cinemas can charge more and they get more return, and in order to get more of that return they can't put out extra in the budget to add high end 3D because that would take away from the profits.
That's not the director making a conscious choice to put their film into post production 3D, or to spend it building action sequences to throw things at the camera - actually that last comment is true of a few films.
So whose fault is it, and is there a fault at all?