The all new 3D silence: an indication the third dimension has at last been welcomed by audiences, or merely tacit resignation?

Once upon a time, not so long ago, almost every visit to a film site would have you clicking through endless diatribes of the hotly debated views surrounding 3D cinema. Albeit hovering uncertainly in cinemas on and off since the 50s, it was Avatar in 2009 that essentially detonated the 3D explosion, with director James Cameron bragging that the film had been built from the ground up for over a decade with 3D in mind, and heralding new 3D technology to boot. It smashed box office records and wowed audiences the world over, breathing new life in to a cash cow that would soon have industry executives rubbing their hands with glee. But even after the initial hysteria around the new wave of so-called ‘RealD’ technology, the web remained awash with naysayers. In fact, by the end of 2010, following Avatar’s triumphant release only a year earlier, critics and pundits were already harbingering the decline and inexorable doom of 3D [1][2][3][4], and by the fall of 2012, 3D was widely regarded a dying format [5][6][7][8][9]. Yet here we are, at the close of another year replete with 3D releases, and there is an unsettling, ominous silence. The detractors are mute, the fever has subsided – is it resignation or acceptance?

Back in October 2012, a reader poll in SFX found that 42.25% of respondents “hate” 3D, with a further 28% saying that they “can’t see 3D” or it causes them problems. Only 13.75% responded positively [10]. Albeit a very specific sample and a year ago, the response still seems to bear true now:

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Avatar proves pirates and studios have got it all wrong.

Disappointed by the news reported on the BBC today, that James Cameron’s Avatar was the most pirated movie of 2010 according to TorrentFreak. Ok, Cameron’s gigantic ego, his huge budget productions, and the colossal profit they rake in all indicate that having the biggest pirate downloads is only proportionally fair. But what is saddening, is that it is these, the most visually striking movies, that really need to be seen at the cinema, or at least on blu-ray/ dvd in their highest possible quality.

The Studios Vs. The Pirates

Kick Ass, another high octane action blockbuster that really deserved to be seen in all it’s glory at the cinema, is the second most pirated film this year. Closely followed by Inception, Shutter Island, Iron Man 2 and Clash of the Titans. In fact, of all ten films, I don’t think there’s a single one that is fully enjoyable in low quality, slightly pixelated, downloaded format. I’m slightly baffled that people would be content watching that, and it annoys me that some people evidently are.

I’m not going to suggest that any films are more or less deserving than others of being pirated, but it certainly makes sense that people download a drama, or a comedy. Unfairly perhaps, as that means low budget movies would be most vulnerable to suffering from piracy, their lack of special effects easily watchable with a little less quality. However, the fact that the top ten downloaded movies are all dependent on visual style leaves me a little exasperated.

As a film fan, I find piracy to be a tricky topic to discuss, and certainly a balancing act in practice – is it ok to download a movie if I first watch it legally? Is it wrong to download a movie in order to share it with your friends, when in a manner of speaking that could be advertising and promotion? I’ve downloaded movies in the past, watched them, and then bought them. Equally, I’ve seen a film and thought, wow, I wish that was out on DVD, I want to watch it again right now – to Isohunt I go.

The fact of the matter is, piracy is here to stay for the foreseeable future and both punters and studios need to adjust accordingly. Film goers should act responsibly; never watch a cam for instance, try to buy or gift films you love, get to the cinema and support the industry you rely on for so much enjoyment. Equally, studios should meet the demand for immediate content, provide alternative, legal downloads of new films, offer subscription services (such as NetFlix in the USA) etc. at prices people are a) willing and b) capable of paying.

Number one rule: give the people what they want. (Or they’ll take it anyway).

Facts, Figures and Film

What is the true significance and relevance of declarations by the gross-obsessed consumer press on the release of a new film?

I’m talking about numbers. Facts and figures. Every time a film is released we are swamped with it’s successes in terms of money. Take two recent acclaimed films: Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

  • Avatar has grossed a worldwide total of over $2.723 billion
  • The Hurt Locker has achieved $40 million

I ask why the average consumer needs this knowledge? Sure, from an industry perspective the figures are all that matter – it’s imperative to see successes or otherwise, but do we want the press to dictate to the average consumer Tom, Dick and Harry – do we want them to dictate the films that are worth seeing or not? Isn’t it better that films start out with some degree of equality, the only influence on the public being the marketing and pr of the distributors? Whether we like it or not, the facts and figures will massively affect public response to new films and wouldn’t it be great for film makers worldwide if that was taken out of the equation? Consumers would go and see films based on their critical reception, not on their financial successes and how much of a storm they can create on their opening day/ weekend.

I shouldn’t think anyone would doubt that The Hurt Locker is as worthy a film to be seen as Avatar (or more so) and yet anyone looking at the above figures would be inclined to believe Avatar was in a completely different league. It’s misleading.

I think it’s important that film starts to take itself seriously as an art form, and as a platform for serious and meaningful expression, and to be respected as such by the public. That will never happen while we continue to influence public interest with financial figures and other ‘only-industry-relevant’ information.