Are Americans scrapping 3D?

3D has been heralded as the future of cinema, but recently audiences have cooled on the technology. Was it just a fad?

3D: A thing of the past... again?
(Image credit: Corbis)

The success of 3D blockbusters like Avatar and Alice in Wonderland fueled talk of a coming "3D explosion," but recent box office figures tell a different story, says The Wrap. Only 45 percent of the opening take for the animated hit Despicable Me came from 3D screens — compared to 80 percent for Avatar — and Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore brought in just $6.9 million from 3D in its opening weekend, the worst showing since 3D's recent renaissance began. There are nearly 60 3D movies slotted to be released in the next two years, beginning with this weekend's Step Up 3D. Will audiences show up, or is the new 3D era ending before it truly began?

Hollywood is ruining 3D: We've seen this one before, says Tim Reeves at In 3D's first heyday, in the 1950s and '60s, the public's appetite for 3D gradually died because "the films weren't really very good. Now we're reaching that point again, with studios looking more interested in milking the fad than "delivering a well-crafted film." If this keeps up, audiences will continue opting for two-dimensional versions of new films, and we'll bid "farewell to our gimmicky old friend for another fifty years."

"Is the end in sight for 3D movies?"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

3-D isn't going anywhere: "Let’s be clear about one thing: 3-D is here to stay," says Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. Studios and theaters are investing heavily in the technology, and audiences have shown they're willing to "pony up for the inflated ticket prices." Not every 3D release is going to be another Avatar — some are just bad movies — but 3D makes many films better, from How to Train Your Dragon, with its dizzying flight sequences, to Step Up 3D, with its eye-popping breakdance moves.

"3-D: Where do you stand on it now?"

Studios have to stop treating 3D like a "cash cow": Okay, so 3D isn't over, says Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times, but it's "not the Next Big Thing anymore." By now "even the most gullible moviegoers" have figured out that films like Avatar are worth the extra $4 or $5 it costs to watch in 3D, but "too many movies simply don't gain that much sizzle from the 3-D experience." Hollywood just needs to stop putting every release in 3D, especially duds like Clash of the Titans, and the audiences will be back.

"No Surprises Dept.: Hollywood killing 3-D golden goose faster than expected

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us