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It’s an obvious connection, but if we’re about to learn anything from these first photos from Thomas Jane‘s directorial debut Dark Country, it is that its going to be a very dark film. It also has a very unique, Sin City-esque design to it. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. The actor, whom you may know from The Mist, The Mutant Chronicles and our Comic-Con 2008 floor report (a performance which shook us to our core), is making his directorial debut in an incredibly unique and interesting way — Dark Country is going to be a 3D noir style thriller. Have you ever seen something like that before? Didn’t think so.

It will tell the story of a couple (Jane and Hostel II star Lauren German) who are en route to Las Vegas when they come across a dead body out in the desert, turning their honeymoon into a “hellish ride.” The film will also star Hellboy’s Ron Perlman.

What I find most interesting is that while studios such as Disney and Dreamworks are gearing up big, sleek family films in 3D, Jane and Sony’s Stage 6 Films are actually using the format to do something unique. And it’s a risk, for sure. But lets consider the fact that My Bloody Valentine 3D, which was made for around $15 million, brought in almost $70 million worldwide with a January release. I’m no statistician, but that appears to be a solid draw for an R-rated film with a 3D schtick. And with Jane’s film being rumored in the $5 million dollar budget range, I can see it turning a quick, easy profit if Sony chooses to give it a properly supported release.

This is all fitting news, as we’ve seen dozens of reports from our friends around the web about the future of 3D as studios roll out their plans this week at ShoWest in Las Vegas. As our friend Pete at Slashfilm reports, Disney is working hard to adapt Beauty and the Beast in 3D for an upcoming theatrical run. As well, Disney is also prepping another run of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in the fall in 3D, complete with a trailer for the upcoming 3D adventure Toy Story 3 attached. Also, as Coming Soon reports, Disney will also be giving Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland an IMAX 3D release.

What I’m looking for in all of this 3D craze is inventive use of the format, as we saw earlier this year with Henry Selick’s Coraline. Because if you’re like me, you are already sick of 3D as a gimmick, the silliness that we see in kid-friendly movies such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which 3D is used as a gag. Hollywood has invested an unquantifiable amount of money in advancing 3D with the RealD format and IMAX — and not to mention whatever the hell James Cameron is doing in his basement — so its high time we see them do something really cool with it. And from what I can tell, Thomas Jane is a filmmaker who is trying to do just that. So kudos to him. The ball’s in your corner, Tim Burton.

Dark Country is currently pending a release date. For now, just enjoy these new images below, courtesy of the folks over at Quiet Earth.

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