The film world has recently experienced a bit of a backlash against 3D movies. Not only have film writers of all sorts repeatedly harped on what a needless gimmick adding a third dimension to an already perfectly fine two-dimensional image is, but regular moviegoers have been using their dollars to vote against the format as well, with more and more 3D pictures seeing less income coming from their 3D screenings and more from their standard two-dimensional screenings. Whether that means audiences are tired of the 3D gimmick itself, or if they’re just tired of paying the premium to see a movie in 3D over 2D is up for debate, but the end result is the same: it looks like the latest 3D fad is on its way out.
There are a couple of very vocal and very influential supporters of 3D technology in the movie world, however, and they’re not going to go down without a fight. Perhaps most famously, Avatar director James Cameron is a huge proponent of filming things in 3D, so much so that he’s developed a lot of the technology that makes new techniques possible. He’s even gone so far as to predict that everything we watch in the future will be filmed in 3D, all the time, and that any needed 2D versions will just be extracted from the original 3D copy. That’s a pretty bold stance, but he’s not alone.
Director of the upcoming 3D family film Hugo, and Hollywood legend, Martin Scorsese, has also become a big fan of the technology. When talking to an L.A. audience on Saturday, he said of the subject, “As I sit here now, I see you in 3D. So why belittle that part of our existence? Why not use it?” There are, of course, a couple strong counter-arguments that could be made, like how 3D movies tend to have blurred and darkened images, or how making people see things projected in 3D actually involves us tricking our natural senses, but to argue the point yet again is probably pointless. Scorsese is a film nerd of the highest order, and I’m sure he’s aware of all the arguments on both sides. He’s firmly placed himself in the pro-3D camp, and that’s that.
He did take the conversation in an interesting place after that, though. Rather than opining that 3D was the logical end point for how we watch movies, Scorsese seems to think that they’re just the next step to us watching completely three dimensional holographic films. He said, “If everything moves along and there’s no major catastrophe were headed toward holograms” He went on to extend his real world argument by adding, “They do it in theater. You have to think that way. Don’t let the fashion and the economics inhibit you.” So, by Scorsese’s logic, if we see three-dimensional images in real life, we should watch 3D movies. And if stage plays can have real, completely three-dimensional actors walking around in a real physical space, movies should do that as well. Soon you will be watching movies on the holodeck.
To counter his real world arguments with a little real world devil’s advocacy of my own, I would say that if audiences in the real world can no longer afford to pay for more expensive tickets to 3D movies, there is no way they’re going to be able to pay for even more expensive tickets to holographic movies. What would movie theaters have to charge to justify the cost of upgrading themselves to Star Trek level technology? One hundred dollars a ticket? And still, if big blockbuster directors like James Cameron and awards season directors like Martin Scorsese all get on board and refuse to make any kinds of movies other than the most expensive, the most technically advanced, will the rest of the industry be forced to follow suit? Will film nerds be doomed to continue draining their pocketbooks no matter how expensive it becomes to go to the movies, because of our cinematic sickness? If you ask me, the future is a very scary place. [24 Frames]