Friday, January 6, 2012

How to End the 3D Movie Fad...

Why the Gimmick is Destroying the Cinematic Art Form...and What You Can Do To Stop It.

Last month, Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest American filmmakers of all time, said something that made me simultaneously vomit a little plus reassured me that there is nothing even remotely resembling a just god in this universe:

Every syllable in that quote is like a flaming hot dagger being driven into my scrotum. Sure, it’s one thing to hear a James Cameron or a Steven Spielberg yammer on and on about the “necessity” of a needless cinematic technology, but really? Such nonsense coming out of the mouth of the guy that gave us “Goodfellas” and “Casino?” It’s like hearing Jean Baudrillard posthumously telling us he’s a fan of Fox News, or Sigmund Freud coming out and talking about his adulation for “The Dr. Phil Show.” How can a man responsible for the elevation of an art form say that he is in SUPPORT of a movement that threatens to destroy the very thing which he helped create?

Well, the short answer, if you’re looking for it, is this: because Martin Scorsese, and everybody else in Hollywood, for that matter, likes money.

Thanks to that damn Internet, the movie companies will tell you, the industry has lost about a fabillion dollars since 2000. Of course, this revenue loss can only be attributed to online movie piracy, and NOT the fact that movie companies are spending upwards of a BILLION dollars on producing and marketing movies, or that movie ticket prices have risen exponentially while wages across the nation continue to plunge, or even the fact that most of the movies being produced by these companies are pure shit nobody would want to watch in the first place.

Movie companies are hell bent on keeping this 3D movie trend a rolling for as long as they can, however, for a couple of reasons, but primarily, because they’re trying to extort as much money out of the audience as humanly fathomable. You see, every time a movie studio releases a film in 3D, that gives them a cinematic Reichstag to charge you an additional four or five bucks. If you’re familiar with how math works, you’d be quick to note that charging the masses $20 a ticket will result in more revenue than if you charged them $15 per ticket. Therefore, as long as people are willing to pay that additional five bucks, the movie companies will continue releasing such films, with some new excuse (almost guaranteed to be a rehash of the “OMG, INTERNET PIRACY IS KILLING OUR INDUSTRY” song and dance) to tack on that annual ticket price increase every year.

The 3D movie fad is nothing more than the industry’s incredibly misguided attempt to combat online film thievery. The studio execs will tell you that 3D negates the effects of movie piracy in a two-fold manner; first, by giving filmgoers an “experience” that can’t be replicated via the torrents (well, until “3D computing“ goes mainstream, anyway), and secondly, by making it physically impossible for most would-be pirates to actually record the movies (the next time you’re watching a 3D flick at the local Cineplex, try taking your glasses off and you’ll see why.)

On the surface, you may be asking yourself why this even matters to you, as a proponent of the fine arts. “So, who cares if film studios are releasing 3D movies as a means of hedging their losses from online piracy?” you may be inclined to inquire. Well, the reason why this matters is because the 3D fad is slowly but surely destroying the cinematic canvas as a place where genuine artistry blooms. Once again, this is a multi-part process, which I believe requires independent examination of each potential consequence.

3D Movies Are Compromising The Vision of Filmmakers

The biggest problem with the 3D fad is that movie studios aren’t just recommending that filmmakers shoot their pictures with the gimmick in mind, but the fact that several studios are FORCING filmmakers to retool their films in order to facilitate 3D effects. A good example of this would be “The Dark Knight Rises,” already an absolute guaranteed blockbuster if there ever was one, which was almost considerably altered in order to meet the studio’s demand that the film be shot in 3D. Warner Brothers, holders of the DC Comics properties by proxy, have implemented a policy in which ALL films containing characters from the holding HAVE to be filmed in 3D formatting. . .a policy which could ultimately be put in place by other studios, for other holdings (or even scarier, for all future projects.) When your artistic vision is limited by what you can do with (let’s face it, completely needless) visual effects, just how much genuine artistry can we expect from a medium now wholeheartedly dedicated to compromising filmmakers’ ideas and intentions?

3D Movies Are Stifling Creativity Within the Medium

Film companies like to make money, but perhaps even more than that, they like to save money. The 3D fad is giving studios a gift from above in the form of re-released properties. . .a gimmick that is not only monetarily productive, but incredibly cost-efficient, as well. Take a look at the “new releases” on the horizon - “Beauty and the Beast,” “Titanic,” “Star Wars,” and “Finding Nemo,” all “bettered” via the miracle of 3D technologies. Odds are, these companies will make WAY more money off these established properties than they would unproven original properties. . .and since converting pre-existing films to 3D costs only a small percent of what it would cost to produce an entirely new film, what do you think film studios are going to be doing more and less of in the upcoming years?

3D Movies Could Serve As A Catalyst For the General De-Valuing of the Art Form

The 3D movie trend is not only tampering with the artistic vision of filmmakers and resulting in less and less original films being produced, but ultimately, lowering the quality of movies across the board. How many movies have you seen over the last four years that utilized 3D technology and were simultaneously good movies, to boot? Yeah, there are a few, but it’s not like “Toy Story 3” would have been any less enjoyable in standard 2D. There are very few movies I can think of that actually benefited from 3D implementation, and virtually zero that I think truly necessitated the technique. The danger here is that, in the not-too-distant future (if not already), we’re going to start seeing movies that are needlessly filmed in 3D, resulting in a.) potentially quality films being lessened by an emphasis on unnecessary visuals, and b.) films that are completely lacking in quality that are being churned out simply because of 3D implementation. Which, in turn, could lead us to. . 

                3D Movies Could Lead To The TOTAL Death of Filmmaking as an Art Form

3D, when it’s all said and done, might just be referred to as the beginning. Already, we have films driven by visual gimmicks (I mean, quality improving techniques) like IMAX, Big-D, and 3D, but what happens from there? My estimation is that a good ten or twenty years down the line, our theater experiences could resemble theme park attractions more then film going forays. Tourist traps have been playing around with “interactive” film going experiments for years, from “4D” experiences a la this attraction at the World of Coca-Cola to at-the-time-laughable-but-now-eerily-prophetic attempts to merge video games and movie watching into a singularity in the ’90s. With such an emphasis on the externalities of the film going experience, the ultimate casualty will be the content and quality of our mainstream film choices. How the hell are you supposed to experience deep, profound, introspective movies like “Schindler’s List” or “Hoop Dreams” when the industry mandates that you turn everything into roller coaster rides? The short answer, unfortunately, is that we won’t.

The 3D craze is clearly detrimental to filmmaking as an art form, but how do we, the filmgoers of America and abroad, retaliate? There really isn’t an immediate answer, but I can lay out a short plan of action we can take in the interim.

First, stop paying to see 3D movies. Because a lot of theaters can’t afford to buy 3D projectors, film studios are still giving most chains the option of screening both 3D and standard versions of their new releases. If you just have to see this summer’s slate of blockbusters, opt to do see in two dimensions out of protest (and for added “F-U” value, take the money you saved on the ticket to rent some really obscure, minimalist indie film at Blockbuster, pending you even have video stores left in your neck of the woods.)

Second, please support small-chain theaters, ESPECIALLY those that cater to independent, experimental and foreign films. If you live in a large metropolitan area or even a pretty sizable college town, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you live in a burgh or hamlet that doesn’t even have a Starbucks yet, try your damnedest to at least check out smaller art houses whenever you’re vacationing or visiting places that do.

Lastly, try to avoid theaters altogether. If you can wait until that must-see movie comes out on DVD or Netflix, you’re sending a message to film studios that says a.) we don’t really care for that 3D crap, and b.) that we DEFINITELY don’t feel like paying extra money on needless additions that ultimately detract from the film going experience itself. There are also a ton of great movies you can LEGALLY stream for free on sites like YouTube, many of which are independent, foreign or experimental features that you wouldn’t see at the local multiplex anyway.

At the end of the day, it’s up to us as filmgoers to stand up to the mega-conglomerate movie studios, for the integrity, livelihood and very future of cinema. After all, we’re the only barriers between us and future of Raging Bullshit at the box office.


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