About 15 years ago, I had to blame James Cameron for making me spend a lot of money at the theater.
Yes, I was one of those people who were in love with "Titanic," and would watch it multiple times, with multiple people, and never felt it would get old. I later had a chance to actually touch a piece of the Titanic hull when an exhibit came to my town a few years after the movie premiered (I wasn't supposed to touch it, but hey, no one was looking), and would just be all Titanic, all the time.
So yeah, I blame James Cameron for that. But now I also blame him for this ridiculous obsession with 3-D.
The sad part is, the way he produced 3-D for "Avatar" was absolutely stunning. Using 3-D technology not to have things fly out at us from the screen, but instead to create a realistic depth to what we were watching, was how 3-D was always meant to be.
The interesting part was that the studios didn't pay attention to why those buying tickets to "Avatar" were willing to spend more for 3-D. They were only paying attention to the fact that people were spending more to watch a movie in 3-D.
Instead of Cameron leading a new evolution of filmmaking, we instead got movies -- especially those already heavy in special effects -- to get 3-D converted. Not filmed in 3-D ... converted in 3-D. Then other films, knowing that they would be turned into 3-D (like animation) went back to the old parlor tricks of having things pop out of the screen, so that we could try and touch it. Just like my dad did in the 1950s, and like we would do when watching "Captain Eo" at DisneyWorld in the 1980s.
It was head-slapping. Hollywood had a hold of some excellent technology, modernized by the genius of Cameron as a filmmaker, and somehow smashed it into the ground. Audiences at first didn't know the difference. They felt that the 3-D had to be as good as "Avatar," so they would snatch up 3-D tickets, paying a premium for the privilege.
However, they would walk out disappointed. The 3-D experience in a film like "Clash of the Titans" was not the same as what they saw in "Avatar." And slowly but surely, people at the ticket counter decided to stick with 2-D, and opt out of 3-D.
Yet, Hollywood sees that only as a negative blip on the overall radar, and feel 3-D is going to come back. Probably thanks once again to James Cameron, who has applied his amazing 3-D technique to "Titanic," preparing it for a re-release in theaters next year. Even as a 3-D conversion, I would trust Cameron to make even the Egyptian hieroglyphics 3-D if he wanted.
But once again, that will give Hollywood more license to ruin good films -- like the upcoming "Star Trek 2" -- just to try and make an extra buck in 3-D.
On our Twitter feed, I expressed some dismay over J.J. Abrams using 3-D. And really, most of the response was that as long as they film in 3-D, it shouldn't be so bad. And even then, they need to still provide a 2-D option, and if they do, most fans will be happy, and see the 3-D as a novelty -- especially if it doesn't work.
That, I guess, is the approach I will need to take, too. I mean, it is reasonable.
But I just can't stop thinking about how great films would have been in 3-D if it weren't overused and incorrectly used by so many projects. But even with "Titanic" and a solid version of "Star Trek 2," I think the damage to the 3-D craze has been done, and really nothing will fix it.
That is, until it's resurrected again 30 years from now.
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