The Cost of 3D

In Alaskana, Cinema on August 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

While director-chic has always been in style, the double-spectacles look never will be. Photo by Jamie Hazlett.

I have a problem with 3D films.


While I want to say “because if I wanted things to be in 3D I wouldn’t be in a movie theater,” that is not an acceptable answer. However, here are three responses that I believe are acceptable.

1) It raises the cost of the cinema going experience. The current price of an adult (non-matinee) ticket at the Regal Goldstream Stadium 16 & IMAX in Fairbanks, AK is $10.75. The price of a 3D ticket is an additional $4.00. The total ticket price to see a 3D film after 6PM is therefore $14.75.

For contextual purposes, according to the user updated Alaska Gas Prices website, the current cost for a gallon of gas at the Airport Way Fred Meyers is $3.52. With the help of a little basic math, that means that…One 3D movie ticket is worth to a ticket-buyer 4.19 gallons of gasoline.

Is seeing (not even renting or buying) one film worth over four gallons of gasoline to you? Many of you probably think that it depends on the film. If so, fair enough.

2) You can only watch it with specialty glasses. This is a problem primarily for those who already wear glasses, don’t like them, or are afraid of them. Regretfully, however, the blogger was not able to find a satisfactory name for “fear of glasses.”

Wearing a pair of 3D glasses is a problem for one reason: if you already wear corrective lenses this means you’ll have to wear glasses over another pair of glasses. For anyone who suffers from eye problems this will only mean one word: obnoxious. For those who do not have eye issues, try putting on two pairs of sunglasses and leaving them on for 2-3 hours. That level of obnoxious.

[Blogger’s note: While you can watch a 3D film without 3D glasses, you can only do so at the expense of your own pleasure. To the uncovered eye, 3-dimensional elements will appear blurry and far-away and in a film that depends heavily on 3D for it’s box office sales (see Avatar) blurry and fair away is not what you want. Unless you didn’t like Avatar, then, yes, blurry and far away is what you want.]

3) Adding 3D after a film has been shot is tacky and ineffective. With a rise in the idea that a film can be made “better” when 3D is added to it (think The Last Airbender), the result has been a lessening of the cinema-going experience. Especially when the technique is done poorly.

What do I mean? Steve Persall, a film critic for the St. Petersburg Times, had this to say:

Genuine 3D movies (sometimes called “native 3D”) like Avatar are shot with stereo cameras, with two lenses slightly offset, creating a ghost image that 3D glasses bring into focus. 2D movies use traditional single-lens cameras, and conversion to 3D is accomplished with computers “drawing” a reasonable facsimile of a ghost image. It’s a digital lithograph, so to speak, rather than an original painting.

In my opinion, 3D is fine as a novel effect. If used in the right film, it can even add a certain je ne sais quoi. However, when it ceases to be unique and starts becoming commonplace it will cease to be interesting or entertaining. One candy bar is fine, an entire box all at once is gluttony. Film goers want to see 300 in 3D, not Chocolat.

For Further Reading:

  1. Awesome post!

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