The first time I saw Avatar
, on opening weekend, was on a regular 2-dimensional screen. The second time, a few weeks later, was in 3-D in an IMAX
theater. I can't say that the second viewing was any "better" than the first, though there were a few things that definitely looked cooler in three dimensions on that giant screen. And you just can't beat the audio in an IMAX
theater -- it sounded great.
Still, I regarded that viewing as a rare event, a break in routine from watching movies on typical screens in the usual two dimensions. "Rare" for two reasons: 1) It's just a bit too much stimulation to take in too often, and 2) IMAX averages a good $5 more per ticket, meaning your usual $60 movie night for a family of four ($40 in tix, $20 in treats) is now an $80 movie night, and seriously how often can anybody afford that -- especially in a recession?
But Hollywood, it seems, is banking on it, with at least twenty 3-D films to be released in 2010. After Avatar's incredible success -- between 2/3 and 3/4 of its worldwide $2.6 billion haul has come from 3-D sales -- and now the smashing run of 3-D Alice in Wonderland ($570 million worldwide, and counting), two more 3-D films (How to Train Your Dragon and Clash of the Titans) are slated to release in the next two weeks.
In an informative story titled "The Future Will Be in 3-D," Entertainment Weekly recently asked, "Are there enough screens for all of them?" And the answer began, "Not even close. . . . [T]heater chains are racing to meet the demand, installing 100 to 150 new screens a month."
Even films that weren't planned in 3-D -- like Clash and the final two Harry Potter films -- are being converted to include the third dimension. Jon Landau, one of Avatar's producers, tells EW that every movie will some day require us to don those funky glasses: "I'm going back to the black-and-white-to-color analogy. You had color films in the 1930s; it took until the late 1960s/early '70s for color to become ubiquitous, but it did. I think there's no reason that an intimate drama won't be in 3-D in the future."
But is that a good thing? Even if you don't have to pay IMAX prices, even if they're shown for "normal" prices, do we really want everything in 3-D? I think I'd prefer it to be the rare treat, instead of the norm. And now it looks like it's going to be coming into our homes more and more, especially as the price of 3-D TVs begins to drop in the years ahead.
What about you? What do you think? Leave your comments below.