Whilst I may be straying somewhat off topic here, I thought since the new Underworld film has been released in (not-so) glorious 3D, I should probably briefly say something about the (arguable) travesty of the form.
A long time ago, in the age where cinema tickets were cheap enough to go more than once a week, and films weren’t illegally available, or watched online, the possibility of 3D seemed like a tantalising technological advancement. Cinema was (and still is) about the experience of watching a film, and if 3D could enhance this experience by pushing more of our sensory buttons, then logically, our experience would be improved. In theory, it sounds like a good idea.
In real life, the opposite seems to be true. I have yet to meet someone who is genuinely excited by the prospect of viewing a film in 3D (although most will concede that Avatar was more impressive in the format, but that is usually the limit).
That’s one theory, anyway. The glasses are a prominent physical reminder that you’re sat in a darkened room staring at a screen. It is somewhat alienating, and leaves viewers focusing on the effects they have paid extra for.
The figures speak for themselves:
There is, in colourful graph form, a display of the tailing off of 3D viewing figures. Cinema going has been decreasing overall, with multiplexes fighting illegal downloading, and the easy availability of films through other formats. But films still have an impact. What I’m saying is that 3D films don’t make much of a difference. People know and love 2D films – the picture is mammoth, the sound all-consuming. Why does another variable need to be thrown in to the formula? As for why audiences are turning away, well, I’ve already mentioned one theory. The other is the obvious one of cost. In this economic climate, people are not as inclined to go to the cinema as they previously were, and when they do go, spending £10 on a ticket seems fairly redundant considering they can get the DVD for less than that only a few months later. Few films actually attract the need to see the film now and some of those films are ones that have made more of an impact on culture. Some of them are sequels which rely on the previous success of related films, and are a ‘safe’ bet for cinema-goers, who know what to expect. But in any case, given the choice, most viewers pick 3D. This also could be down to our inexperience with the form in much the same way as talking films. When it was first released, the format was more popular because it was an interesting gimmick. Now the novelty has faded it seems borderline useless; merely an add-on for the noise-offensive of blockbuster cinema, 3D can be seen as an assault on the senses rather than any kind of enhancement. Which is my opinion as to why it hasn’t proved as popular anyhow. Any other thoughts are most welcome.
What is worrying though, and perhaps it shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, is the fact that two of the most recent vampire outputs, Fright Night and Underworld 4 have been moulded into the format. What does this say about the popularity of monster films? That they have reached a peak, and are worthy of the visual atrocity that is 3D? Well, both these films adhere to the categories I mentioned before. They both rely on the previous successes of other related films (one being a remake, and the other a sequel), so their success is somewhat guaranteed, regardless of format. For me though, I’d like to keep my monsters in 2D.