There is something nostalgic about pulling out a pair of those old red- and blue-lensed glasses, popping a copy of The Giant Gila Monster into the DVD player and kicking back in your favorite recliner to remember the glory days of 3D cinema. Unfortunately nostalgia isn’t the only thing you get out of that scenario; if you watch more than 20 minutes chances are you’ll also get a splitting headache, thanks to the blurry, multi-colored glasses. This is but one of the reasons 3D was never more than a cinematic niche that film companies would occasionally use to generate interest in an otherwise dreadful film. But as the great Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin.”
Utilizing technology from California-based RealD, moviegoers can now enjoy 3D movies without the fear of crippling migraines by the end of the first act. While glasses are still required, they are now clear and resemble a pair of sunglasses. And unlike the old days of 3D, where two projectors were needed to project the image (which often resulted in image distortion), movies are now projected through a single digital projector.
As a result of these recent breakthroughs Hollywood is coming back to 3D in a huge way. James Cameron is returning to the silver screen with his live action/animation hybrid Avatar, which is his first film since 1997’s Titanic. Also in the pipeline are a couple of high-profile animated pictures. Pixar is set to release Up, while Dreamworks is coming out with Monsters vs. Aliens. Horror fans will also get to enjoy the third dimension with the fourth Final Destination movie.
With so many big-budget films that rely on digital projection coming out in 2009, movie studios faced a problem: there were only around 700 screens nationwide that were equipped to show films in 3D. By partnering with theaters and helping to ease the cost of replacing older film projectors with the new digital ones, come 2009 the studios will have around 5,000 screens on which to showcase their new 3D films. Given that box office receipts have fallen dramatically in recent years (due in part to big-screen HDTVs and home theater systems), the studios, filmmakers and theater owners are joining together and hoping that by offering films in 3D, people will venture outside their homes and come back to the theaters.