Is the 3D movie revolution already dead? It’s starting to look that way. So far this year, ticket sales for 3D films are down 13%, and the recent sequels to “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Kung Fu Panda” – two films that were expected to be major 3D hits – are actually selling more tickets on old-fashioned 2D screens! There’s even a new Facebook group you can join, called “We’re tired of 3D movies. Stop making them.” That’s bad news when you consider Hollywood studios are banking on 3D technology to help save the movie industry. In fact, they’ve scheduled TWICE as many 3D movies to be released this summer as last summer.
So what’s going on? Greg Foster is the president of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. He thinks higher ticket prices have a lot to do with it. He says audiences are smart, and we’re not going to pay extra money just to see a movie with 3D gimmicks! He believes we also want a strong story, and lately, he hasn’t seen anything as strong as popular 3D films like “Avatar” or “Alice In Wonderland.” Other critics say 3D glasses are to blame, because no matter how big the screen is, movie images look smaller and darker through 3D glasses.
Film critic Roger Ebert has even weighed in with an essay about 3D technology. In it, he cites studies which show that the human brain can only focus on one distance at a time – whether it’s 10 feet or 10,000 feet. Each time you change focus, your eyes are supposed to tilt in a different direction, to match what you’re looking at. However, with 3D movies, your eyes stay in one place, while your brain gets tricked into focusing on many different distances. That forces your brain to work harder, which explains why so many people leave 3D movies with headaches. Ebert says no amount of technical tweaking can fix what the human brain has adapted to do over millions of years, and that’s why he believes 3D technology doesn’t work, and never will.