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film news

James Cameron: "Hollywood getting it wrong" about 3D movies

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How much did the 3D in Avatar change the game for the people that wield the most power in Hollywood, the ones that run the studios? When the first true movie using stereoscopic 3D makes $740 million dollars just in North America and $200 million from the IMAX theaters, you better believe that the game of making movies to make money is being seriously looked at. Disney took a gamble and post-converted its Alice in Wonderland movie into 3D. Instead of an audiences asking why Alice's 3D didn't look as good as the 3D in Avatar, the result has been $260 million dollars at the box office for three weeks in a row.

But as studios rush to announce 3D versions of their major releases two of the town's biggest directors are sounding off about the inferior quality of post-production 3D conversion of the kind being done on Warner Bros.' Clash of the Titans. Transformers director Michael Bay would seem like the kind of guy that would embrace 3D for its thrill factor. Instead, Bay has been very cautious in saying that 3D is going to be the future of filmmaking. Now Bay has gone one step further and said that the rushed conversion process produces an "inferior" product, one that he doesn't want any of his films associated with.

"I shoot complicated stuff, I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process," the director told Deadline's Mike Fleming. "I am trying to be sold, and some companies are still working on the shots I gave them. Right now, it looks like fake 3D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice."

Bay tells the Deadline reporter that he's heard it costs a movie studio somewhere between $120,000 to $150,000 to convert a 2D-filmed movie into 3D. when you do the math a 90 minute movie winds up costing the studio that made it between $10 million to $13.5 million extra to make it "fake 3D."

"I'm used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3D," Bay states. "Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not.  Avatar took four years. You can’t just shit out a 3D movie. I'm saying, the jury is still out."

And how does the king of the world feel about the rush of 3D films in the wake of Avatar's stunning success? "This is another example of Hollywood getting it wrong," James Cameron said about the fake 3D trend. "Sony says, we’re doing Spider-Man in 3D.' The director doesn’t say, 'Hey, I want to make the movie in 3D.' The studio says, 'You want to direct this movie? You’re doing it in 3D, motherfucker!' That’s not how it should be. I've tried for the last seven years to get filmmakers excited, and they all hung back while Pixar and DreamWorks did animation and me and a couple others did live action. We prove the point, and now filmmakers are being told to make their movies in 3D."

True stereoscopic 3D movies require heavier equipment, more complexity when setting up the shot and they cost more to make. If Avatar has proven that audiences will reward a movie that uses true 3D, then the message being sent by the success of Alice in Wonderland is more likely the cause for the studios to upconvert their 2D new releases to 3D. Maybe Alice was a blip in the larger picture, a success because audiences wanted to see another Avatar. Now that they might have lowered their expectations the resulting box office for Clash of the Titans might not be as high as Warner suits are hoping for. We'll know soon enough as Clash opens on April 2.

-Deadline.

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