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The thrill is gone for 3D movies: Howell

The plain fact is that the 3D fad is over, done, dead. Even if Hollywood hasn’t fully admitted it yet, moviegoers have.–Peter Howell, Toronto Star.

Peter Howell has been giving 3D the raspberry for years now.

His is an all top familiar voice found in those who call themselves film critics. Howell writes,

“The plain fact is that the 3D fad is over, done, dead, even if Hollywood hasn’t fully admitted it yet — although moviegoers have. New figures by the Motion Picture Association of America show an 8 per cent drop in tickets sold to 3D films in the past year, despite the fact a record 68 movies in 3D were released. Moviegoers are voting with their wallet.

“One of the summer’s biggest films, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, is viewable only in 2D format. It will be the same “flat” reality for Blade Runner 2049, the Denis Villeneuve film that is one of the fall’s most-anticipated blockbusters. And Imax Entertainment recently announced that it will be cutting back on screenings of 3D films, after disappointing box office for such non-attractions as The Mummy and Transformers: The Last Knight.

“Expect other industry players to soon follow suit. And ask yourself this: When was the last time you willingly ponied up several extra dollars for the pleasure of wearing a pair of plastic goggles to watch a movie made darker and less distinct by 3D?

“For many people, it would be about seven or eight years ago, when Avatar and Alice in Wonderland were heralding a new era of 3D, reviving a format that had been tried and rejected decades earlier, during the supposed “golden era” of 3D in the 1950s.

“The revival never really caught on, in large part because many theatres wouldn’t commit to using the brighter (and more expensive) bulbs needed to properly project 3D. And forget about 3D TV, which even fewer people went in for. Who wants to wear plastic goggles in their living room?

“I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve thought 3D added anything of value to a film viewing.

“It’s time for 3D to just go away again, as quietly as it did before, while we figure out if virtual reality and holograms really are the Next Big Thing”


THE MUMMY is the worst movie I have ever seen. People joke about PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) being the worst movie ever made. The truth is that PLAN NINE is not that bad. In fact, it’s a lot of fun.

THE MUMMY, however, is just plain bad.

3D or not 3D audiences are not going to support stinkers. THE MUMMY is a colossal stinker.

The Karloff MUMMY from 1932 is poetry. The film’s director Karl Freund remains one of the great geniuses of the motion picture art and industry. The various MUMMY films from then on are kitsch. A few are good kitsch. The latest MUMMY is not among those few.

Those theaters that don’t want to commit to using the brighter (and more expensive) bulbs needed to properly project 3D are too blame if the pictures are not getting the audience they should.

Peter Howell has been to THE CINEFORUM once. At that time I did not have a 3D system installed. I got it installed about ten or more years ago. I can handle all forms of 3D. As well, on the shelf I have digital copies of nearly every 3D movie made. I certainly have the important ones. I also have all the books I could get my hands on plus 3D cameras.

When people see 3D movies projected here (including ones they have seen in major theaters) they go, “WOW!”

The current 3D boom began with James Cameron’s AVATAR (2009).

Cameron made his film to be experienced in 3D. He took his time. He did it right.

Too many have jumped on the 3D bandwagon without taking the time to do it right just as was done in the 1950s. The public was not tired of 3D then. The public is not tired of 3D now.

What they are tired of (and rightly so) is 3D poorly used.

3D comes with a lot of myths many of which find a home in Howell’s writing mainly because he is a lazy writer. Those myths are effectively dealt with here:   .

In the meantime those theaters that are niggardly in their 3D presentation should be listed as among those James Cameron does not allow his upcoming sequels to AVATAR to play.

Hollywood has a back catalogue of great 3D films from the 1950s on which are not available on Blu-ray. Olive Films refused to release Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’s MONEY FROM HOME in 3D despite efforts to do that from the best people possible, Bob Furmanek and his associates at THE 3D FILM ARCHIVE.

One thing about James Cameron that is certain is that he knows how to make movies we want to see.

When his sequels to AVATAR are released we will be lining up to see them.

3D is a tool waiting simply to be used by the right hands.

One good reason 3D TV sales may be down is that 3D is a medium that works best on a big screen and with a projector.

Those sales are holding steady.

When sound first came to the movies people went to hear them. The bloom soon came off that rose. The novelty of sound wore off. Then what mattered became what always matters. It is the same thing with the rose of 3D.

No one who has seen any of the various IMAX 3D documentaries can say 3D brought nothing to the experience. The films PINA and CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS really benefit from being in 3D.

For years I read about the use of 3D in Roy Ward Baker’s INFERNO (1953). Thanks to the work of the 3D Film Archive I am now able to do more than read about it.

Peter’s been at his job long enough.

It’s time for him to retire. Let someone not blinded by personal opinion take up his pen.

–Reg Hartt 08. 11, 2017.

THOSE REDHEADS FRP< SEATTLE is another in the long list of great 1950s 3D films we can experience thanks to the work of The 3D Film Archive.

3D Rarities from the 3D Film Archive is a wonderful program.

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