Why 3D Movies Are Dying A Pretty Fast Death

In 2012, 41 movies had 3D attached to them.

In 2013, that number went down to 35.

In 2014? We’re getting just 28 movies accessible with 3D glasses.

We can expect this trend to continue as movie studios are beginning to learn the sad truth that people are quickly losing interest in paying more money for blurrier movie-watching (and instant headaches).

Granted, for every Gravity and Avatar that comes out, we also get something like G.I. Joe: Retaliation, an obvious example of a bad movie trying to gouge more money from a waning audience.

The brutal truth is that most movies just don’t benefit from the 3D experience unless they’re either animated or built for 3D. In most cases, they’re converted into 3D after shooting, thus lowering the quality.

So it hasn’t taken long for consumers to catch on.

In 2009, studios could easily get away with charging extra for 3D and watching the money come in, but it’s clearly not worth their time anymore 5 years later. After making plenty of money re-releasing old favorites like Star Wars and Finding Nemo with 3D technology, Hollywood is clearly experiencing diminishing returns.

But does this mean 3D movies are on their way out permanently?

While 3D movies as they are won’t last much longer, I strongly believe that we’ll soon be entering a new normal when it comes to big 3D releases.

For one thing, they’re still raking in huge profits when associated with IMAX midnight releases. Moviegoers are far more likely to watch a movie in 3D if it is on the extra-big screen, as these are typically films that benefit greatly from having an expanded canvas.

Of course, one way theaters are seeing this completely backfire is the growing trend of trading midnight releases for 10pm showings, thus eradicating the purpose Black Friday-style.

That said, you can expect fewer cash grabs and knockoff 3D movies in  favor of just a few well-done 3D events. These are the movies that you actually want to see in 3D because they’re marketed as being too beautiful to miss.

I don’t know how long it will take for 3D movies to phase out completely, if at all. But we all know it’s happened before and will likely happen again. The question will only be answered once we see the growth or decline of the image of 3D movies (how they’re perceived by the public).

In other words, nothing will really change unless 3D can fix its own public relations problem.

As it is, people will keep believing it is nothing but a money-making scheme. This perception can shift to what I stated before (movie events with an emphasis on beauty and stunning visuals), but whether or not this will happen is somewhat unpredictable at this point.

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24 thoughts on “Why 3D Movies Are Dying A Pretty Fast Death

  1. It’s no great surprise really is it. I mean, the ‘future’ of cinema has actually been done in the fifties and eighties already! Plus it doesn’t add much to any movies I’ve seen apart from Gravity and maybe Avatar. It’s just a money making enterprise, and an anti piracy thing I think.

  2. You make some very good points. The only 3D movies I’ve seen that really impressed me were Tangled and Rise of the Guardians. I got the definite idea that those films were animated with the possibilities of 3D constantly in mind. The rest were, as you mention, not worth the headache. (I should mention I never got to see Avatar in 3D and Gravity didn’t show anywhere near me. I’m sure they would easily have made my list.) As for IMAX, there’s only one in all of South Africa, so I hope that doesn’t become the only way one can see a film in 3D.

    • Personally, I didn’t like Gravity in 3D, but that is not general opinion, as most people (including my friends I saw it with) loved it. For me, I’ve only ever truly enjoyed the 3D of Avatar and some animated movies.

  3. Eventually holographic movies will take over. Until then, 3D will keep reappearing because it’s too fun not to. Plus, every generation wants to experience the 3D craze they heard about from their parents’ generation.

    • Avatar is the only live action film I’ve ever actually enjoyed in 3D (story notwithstanding). For the first 10 minutes, we saw Gravity in 2D because of a projector error, but when they switched it to 3D, I was actually disappointed by how much detail was lost in the shots of Earth in the background.

      • Neither Avatar nor Gravity had a very interesting or original plot. I watched them mostly for the spectacle of the scenery. Gravity was all about the physics of motion. Except for a few silly plot-driven lapses in physics, they did a pretty good job of it. Avatar was all about alien flora and fauna, which was a lot of fun to watch.

  4. I agree with this for the most part. I’ve seen a few 3D movies, and the only ones that I felt really deserved the 3D was Avatar, Tron: Legacy, The Amazing Spider-Man, Titanic 3D (best conversion I’ve yet seen), and Monsters & Aliens. I wanted to see Gravity in theatres, but I chose Catching Fire instead (I do not regret this decision…HUGE Hunger Games fan). The worst 3D movies I’ve seen (in regards to the 3D, not to the movie itself) were Coraline (my first 3D movie), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (only 3D movie that gave me a headache. Too much motion), Deathly Hallows Part 2 (I am a HUGE Potter fan). I think it should still be used, but not for EVERY movie, but just when the movie can be improved by it, such as Avatar (the entire movie was outside of the screen!!) and The Amazing Spider-Man (the perspective 3D was AMAZING…no pun intended…). I am so glad that The Hunger Games movies are not in 3D (even though they very easily could be and no one would question it). It proves that a movie can be shot and released in 2D and still be a hit.

    • It’s interesting that you mention Hunger Games, because I have little doubt that if it had been released in 2011, rather than 2012, it would have probably had 3D attached to it. 2012 was really when the decline of 3D movies started.

      • Actually, I read somewhere that the director decided no 3D because then they’d be The Capital, glorifying this.But I see what you mean.

  5. I’m not a great fan of 3D so I don’t watch many 3D movies, mainly because I’ve got glasses and it’s really not very nice to have to force the 3D glasses up against your normal ones if you’re not wearing contact lenses :/ Also, 3D makes me feel slightly dizzy in a weird way… ;)

  6. I’m not a great fan of 3D so I don’t watch many 3D movies, mainly because I’ve got glasses and it’s really not very nice to have to force the 3D glasses up against your normal ones if you’re not wearing contact lenses :/ Also, 3D makes me feel slightly dizzy in a weird way… ;)

  7. First time I went to a 3D movie I got a blinding migraine (I get maybe a dozen a year) so I have never gone again. I will be happy when they are gone :)

  8. 3D is wonderful when it is done well and enhances the story. It is a ripoff when it is not.

    The good: Avatar, Hugo, Gravity. In all of these 3D adds to the viewer’s immersion in the story.

    The mixed part 1: The Hobbit. Immersion works here but it’s less clear that immersion in Middle Earth is a good thing or whether we are better served by a bit of distance. The combination of HFR and 3D is synergistic in enhancing immersion.

    The mixed part 2: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. This was shot in 2D and post-processed . Wonderland was almost entirely CGI so it worked well there but the “real world” sequences look fake, so ironically that is the part that feels like a dream. That may have been Burton’s intent.

    The pretty: Just about any 3D computer animated film. But it doesn’t often add to the story, though it worked well in Up. And too often the 3D is all about gimmicks like stuff flying at the screen.

    The ugly: most 2D-3D conversions. Possible exception: Titanic, which I have not seen.

    I would be just fine with the number of live action 3D releases falling to five a year so long as they are the right five. Might as well continue to make the CGI films in 3D because the cost increment is minimal – the computer models are already 3D anyway so mostly it means doing another render.

  9. There was over 50 3D Movies in 2013:

    http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=154457

    There are over 70 3D Movies in 2014:

    http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=173039

    Can you people making these fake articles, please stop lying about decline of 3D.
    Both Sony & VIZIO have discontinue their 2D 1080p TVs, and are only making 3D 4K TVs.
    The Nintendo 3DS is selling more better each week, then the PS Vita & PS4 & Wii U & Xbox ONE, specially in outside of America.

    The majority of Americans see 3D Movies in 3D, for example; Gravity & Captain America: The Winter Soldier & The Amazing Spider-Man 2 & Godzilla & Need for Speed & I, Frankenstein & 300: Rise of an Empire.
    And the interntional market always gets 88% of its tickets being for 3D screenings sold.

    The fact is, that 2D is on a decline, as more & more new content is 3D content. More & more people are owning 3D TVs & 3D Blu-Ray players.

    The sales of 3D TVs have always been more better then HD TVs during the same point in life spam. And HD TVs had a 50 year gap between them and color TVs, while 3D TVs only had a several year gap between them and HD TVs.
    The price tag of HD TVs always decline year on year, but the price tag of 3D TVs have gone up 2 years in a role, and still have sales up; year on year.

    2D is dying out. In the next 15 years there most likely won’t be anything in 2D.

    • You’re linking to a forum. Here’s the official calendar released by RealD: http://www.boxoffice.com/statistics/3d-release-calendar

      They cited 16 movies remaining to be released this year in 3D (that is on top of what’s already come out so far). That’s every 3D film being released theatrically for each studio. They also cite 20 movies (so far) that will be coming out next year.

      So you can’t just “say” that 3D movies are doing just fine, when they’re clearly declining.

      If you need more than that, here’s another source that cites just 17 films total: http://www.movieinsider.com/movies/3d/2014/

      Please understand that I didn’t write this article because I want 3D to just fail. Personally, I don’t care if they’re popular and others like them, even though I don’t. If there’s a market for it, then that’s just fine with me. I’m simply pointing out a downtrend. You claimed that prices are only going up for 3D TV’s, but that’s simply untrue, even if that would be good for the companies sell them. Prices are always going down as demand both increases and decreases due to competition. When 3D TV’s were first introduced, you would have to spend at least a grand, but nowadays, you can get a good one for around $500-$700. I think your metrics are overlapping with Smart TV’s that have apps and 3D functionality, but that doesn’t mean people are actually using them. People are flocking to Smart TV’s for Internet connectivity.

      I would also refrain from comparing 3D success to the Nintendo 3DS. We’re talking about two separate mediums (interactive and entertainment), and Nintendo has always had a leg up on the handheld gaming market, 3D or no (though they’re currently at a crossroads due to the advent of mobile gaming).

      You also claim that studios make more money off of 3D sales, but that’s obvious because the tickets are more expensive. That doesn’t mean they perform better.

      Finally, your claim that 2D is “dying out” is completely unfounded. If print newspapers can survive two decades after the invention of the Internet, then I’m pretty sure 2D will manage to stick around after just a few years of mainstream 3D, especially since it didn’t manage to topple the market back in the 80s.

      In short, my article is not “fake” just because it presents an opinion contrary to yours. I wrote this months ago and am still seeing this all play out as 3D technology continues its gradual decline, both financially and perceptually. That doesn’t mean it won’t stick around for a while longer or even manage to rebound. That all depends on factors neither of us can accurately predict.

      • Well, here’s the Official American release schedule so far. But will be several more movies added before the year is over, for 2014 3D Movies:

        The Legend of Hercules 3D “Jan 10, 2014″
        The Nut Job “January 17, 2014″
        I, Frankenstein (Comic Book Movie) January 24, 2014United States Australia
        Nurse 3D “Feb. 7, 2014″
        The Lego Movie “February 7, 2014″
        Pompeii 3D “Feb. 21, 2014″
        Stalingrad 3D “Feb. 28, 2014″
        300: Rise of an Empire “March 7, 2014″
        War of the Worlds: Goliath 3D “March 7, 2014″
        Mr. Peabody & Sherman “March 7, 2014″
        Need for Speed 3D “March 14, 2014″
        Noah 3D “March 28, 2014″
        Captain America: The Winter SoldierApril 4, 2014United States 2.39:1
        Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D “April 4, 2014″
        Rio 2 “April 11, 2014″
        Make Your Move 3D “April 18, 2014″
        The Amazing Spider-Man 2 “May 2, 2014″
        The Protector 2 3D “May 2, 2014″
        Legend of OZ: Dorothy’s Return 3D “May 9, 2014″
        Godzilla 3D “May 16″
        X-Men: Days of Future Past “May 23, 2014″
        Under the Electric Sky 3D “May 29, 2014″
        Maleficent “May 30, 2014″
        Edge of Tomorrow 3D “June 6, 2014″
        How to Train Your Dragon 2 “June 20, 2014″
        Transformers: Age of Extinction “June 27, 2014″
        Independence Day 3D (ID4) “July 2014″
        Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 3D “July 11, 2014″
        Planes: Fire & Rescue 3D”July 18, 2014″
        Jupiter Ascending 3D “July 18, 2014″
        Step Up 5: All In “July 25, 2014″
        Hercules 3D “July 25, 2014″
        Guardians of the Galaxy “August 1, 2014″
        Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D “Aug. 8, 2014″
        Into the Storm 3D “August 8, 2014″
        John Wick “August 15, 2014″
        Sin City: A Dame to Kill for 3D “August 22, 2014″
        The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom 3D “August 2014″
        Resident Evil 6: Armageddon 3D “Sep. 12, 2014″
        Dolphin Tale 2 3D “September 19, 2014″
        The Boxtrolls “September 26, 2014″
        Most Welcome 2 “Oct. 2, 2014″
        Book of Life 3D “Oct. 17, 2014″
        Quija “October 24, 2014″
        Big Hero 6 3D “Nov. 7, 2014″
        Home “November 26, 2014″
        Asterix: The Land of the Gods 3D “November 26, 2014″
        Exodus: Gods & Kings “December 12, 2014″
        The Hobbit: There and Back Again

        As you can see, there is currently more 3D Movies this year, then any previous year. And the Official 2013 list of 3D Movies, shows at least 45 3D Premiers in America, during 2013 alone.

        Please do better fact checking then just boxoffice.com & movieinsider.com. There are way more better sources then those.

        And the fact is, that TV companies, like Sony & VIZIO have been discontinuing 2D 1080p TVs, and just focusing on 3D 4K TVs for a reason.

      • It’s been my experience that people who say something like ” I don’t care if they’re popular and others like them, even though I don’t.” usually find the negative side of 3D.

        Sometimes it gets downright funny. Like the time I called out an online reviewer for describing ‘out of screen effects’ as gimmicks. I asked if she somehow thought that everything in the James Bond movies were real. Needless to say I received no reply.

        • I’m not sure what you’re complaining about. It’s pretty normal for people who don’t like a certain thing to be indifferent about its popularity. I don’t “care” that Justin Bieber is popular, even though I don’t like his music. I’m just sharing my opinion on why I don’t like it. In this case, I’m pointing out reasons for why I think 3D is on the decline, disclosing the fact that I’m not a fan and that my bias is interwoven into my article. I’m not a journalist, and I’m not trying to be objective. I’m just stating my case.

          • Have you look at sells of 3D screenings VS. 2D screenings for such movies as Gravity & I, Frankebstein & 300: Rise of an Empire & Captain Maerica 2 & Amazing Spider-Man 2 & Godzilla 3D & X-Men Days of Future Past & Maleficent & Edge of Tomorrow & Trabsformers 4 & Hercules 3D & Guardians of the Galaxy & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D?

            Plus there not single place anyone knows, where they can purchase a new 2D TV. Not 1080p nor 4K HD.

            3D TVs seem to be the only thing in stock. The “New Nintendo 3DS” has been announced and is coming out in 2015. The 2D TVs are being discontinue left & right. And the 2DS is being discontinue to finally localize Flipnote Studio 3D and finally release full 3D movies on the Nintendo 3DS, in 2015.

            The movie theaters have given 7 or so months of premiering movies with more 2D screenings then 3D screenings during their first week release in the cinemas, and now they have given up on 2D screenings since August 8 2014 or earlier, because the sales for 2D screenings are never their in America. And the international market has near 90% of their sold screenings being 3D screenings.

            2D is going the way of “Black & White” except their is no use for filming anything in 2D in the future for any art style, where as B&W actually contributes a gimmick once in a while.

            Cell phones are being done in 3D again, and so are tablets, and this time it has been announced as a permanent feature.

  10. Most cinemas have invested in 3d technology – and there appears to be a small overhead to making a movie in 3d. What I’m trying to address is “cost/benefit”. I think 3d will be here for the long haul.

    To the person who gets headaches from 3d movies – this occurs for some people. I found I had some eye fatigue from my first 3d movie, but it’s been better since… However, why would you outright ban 3d? I don’t like tomato – but it would be short-sighted of me to want tomatoes banned.

    While I’m at it, I’m a big fan of 48fps. It’s the same as computer screen technology. About 20 years ago, we used 15 or 17in monitors, usually that flickered due to low refresh rate. Today, no one in their right mind would get a low refresh rate monitor (even if it was free). Some of the articles slagging refresh rate are ignorant. People notice low refresh rate (eg. 3d movies that halve the slow 24fps). However, people do not notice issues for higher refresh rate (other than a lack of blur). Eg. Flickering flouro light? It has a lower refresh rate. You don’t see flickering for higher refresh rates.

    My bet – 3d and higher fps (hfr) will be around in 10 years.

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