The Great 3D Hoax: How Hollywood Is Conning You Out of Your Money

In Vincent Price’s House of Wax, a man stands outside a theater and hits a paddleball. The audience gasps! Not just because this guy was really good at paddleball. The ball looked like it was flying out at the audience! This was in 1953, and it was the first time Hollywood tried 3D.

It didn’t last, mainly because the technology proved to be too expensive, and the novelty eventually wore off for the audience.

Hollywood Tries 3D, take two… Action!

Shame on you, Hollywood.

Enough 3D already, movie studios!

If you’ve seen any movies, trailers, or commercials, you know Hollywood is bombarding us with releases in the third dimension. From the worldwide mega-hit Avatar, to the upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby (I’ve read the CliffsNotes for that book multiple times, and never saw anything requiring 3D), and even Titanic!…

Wait, what?

The same Titanic that made it impossible for me to get a girl in Junior High because I was constantly being compared to Leonardo DiCaprio?! That Titanic?

Yes. James Cameron’s re-release of his original* mega-hit is just one in a long line of movies being re-released in 3D. An FYI for the guys: the “I must draw you” line does not get a girl naked. It gets you slapped and hit with a restraining order.

( *Though The Terminator is James Cameron’s best, most awesome-tastic film, he’s best known for Titanic.)

Other films being re-launched include Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (and eventually the other 5), Finding Nemo, many of the Disney Princess films, and even a rumored Top Gun.

Directors and production companies own these films. It’s their work of art, so they’re allowed to change it if they want to (and make huge profits). But should they? No.

Mona Lisa

Sorry peeps, I’m into BLONDES now.

What if all of a sudden, Leonardo Da Vinci decided he had a thing for blondes and changed the Mona Lisa? Would it have gone down in history as one of the world’s finest paintings?

Would people still flock to museums around the world to see Michaelangelo’s “David” if along the way someone decided he should be wearing a banana hammock instead?

These films were works of art, masterpieces of their times (except for Star Wars Episode I. George Lucas must be stopped!). Their time didn’t have the 3D technology, and that’s too bad. Maybe 3D would have made Titanic better (especially the scene where the dude falls, hits the propeller with a thud, and bounces into the water… I laugh every time). But the fact is, personal opinions aside, it was a classic film. If it were mine, I would want it to be remembered that way, not for a cheesy 3D re-release.

3D films were created to win back an audience from a little invention called “television” (maybe you’ve heard of it). Today, studios are bringing it back as a way to fight illegal piracy. “They won’t download it, because they won’t get the awesome 3D effects!” Umm… You’re wrong, Mythical Studio Exec I Made Up For That Quote.

If that’s the case, why is Avatar (a movie celebrated solely for its effects, not the stolen story) the most pirated movie of all time, with over 21 million downloads?

3D is a fad. It’ll disappear just like Hammer Pants, Beanie Babies, and Ke$ha. It’ll happen sooner if consumers decide to stop paying up to $20 a ticket to see these monstrosities, or if filmmakers refuse to sacrifice the integrity of their art for a trend.

An elephant in a top hat? How silly.

Mr. Nolan, I commend you.

That in mind, a tip of my hat to Christopher Nolan. The genius behind Batman Begins and The Dark Knight dealt with a ton of pressure from Warner Brothers to film The Dark Knight Rises in 3D. Nolan resisted mightily, and WB relented. Though we’re months away from the release, I already know I wouldn’t enjoy Dark Knight Rises nearly as much if I had been forced to wear stupid looking glasses throughout the film. I’m incredibly vain.

Well done, Mr. Nolan. Well done.

Well, what do YOU think?

Image credit to karlnorling, cea., and crabers.crab.

Alex Brodsky

Alex is a video specialist and blogger at Quality Logo Products, putting his media background and screenwriting training to good use. When he's not working, he enjoys tinkering with his fantasy sports lineups, engaging in cheeky shenanigans, and cuddling. He must also get all of his caffeine from pop as he can't stand coffee. You can also connect with Alex on Google+.


  1. Juliette Vincent

    Fantastic post, Alex! And I’m in complete agreement about the ridiculousness of the 3D craze. 🙁

    Also, in regards to James Cameron and pickup lines, the one from Titanic won’t work but I’ll bet that “Come with me if you want to live” would totally work on many a geek. Once again proving that Terminator is his best film!

    • Alex Brodsky

      Haha! I’m glad you liked it and I am DEFINITELY going to try the Terminator pick-up line! Thanks!

  2. Jeff Porretto

    I think 3D, when done well, is friggin amazing (Uncharted 3 baby!). I have not seen very much that is though. Most live action that is converted to 3d tends to look like a pop up book, which does nothing for me.

    Animated movies, however, are amazing in 3D (it only takes a few lines of code and some processing power). I would definitely make it a point to see Finding Nemo in 3D. And if that coincides with a 3D Blu-ray release… engage full on geek-out mode.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Correction: Animated movies that were made by computers. The older 2D hand-drawn animated ones do not look good when converted over.

      • Jeff Porretto

        Good call Mandy. My brain made that distinction, my typin’ fingers didn’t cooperate.

    • Alex Brodsky

      Unfortunately, the number of times 3D fails FAR outnumbers the times it’s done well.

      Animation certainly does lend itself to 3D much better than normal films, but it still can be dizzying at times. Films are edited together smoothly, seamless so that you don’t even notice it. However, I’ve found that when even an animated film is converted, sometimes the edits are not quite as smooth and it throws me for a loop.

      And I can’t judge 3D games as I’ve never actually played one.

  3. Bret Bonnet

    I’ve seen MANY 3D movies; both in theatres, iMax, and at home.

    Here’s the rub… Making a movie 3D just to make it 3D is no good. At the same time, I’m OK with making ALL movies 3D and/or the new norm…

    Bear with me…

    When 3D is NOT the focal or selling point of a film (Thor, Underworld, Priest, etc.), instead, it’s used as an element of cinematography; just the same as CGI and/or sound effects are today, then I’m OK with it.

    I’ve seen movies where the selling point IS 3D. I’ve seen movies that are in 3D with very little 3D effects… There is no denying when used right; 3D does and can make a film better (Transformers is a PRIME example); but 3D games (PlayStation 3), and pretty much EVERY movie with “3D” in the title of the film sucks.

    Hollywood should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of hoaring 3D technology out, they should have instead made it a value add… something to get more people into the theatres to see everyday movies… not to green light movies just so they could PUSH and charge more for them. Had they made it a value add and PULLED customers in, I think 3D technology and movies would be seen in a much brighter light.

    Hollywood botched this just the same as they did HD-DVDs. Way to go 0-2! 🙁

    PS. SIDE NOTE: Disney, thank you for releasing Lion King in 3D. I’ve watched this movie like 5 times in 3D now. I don’t know what it is… I love me some Pumba! 🙂

    • Alex Brodsky

      I feel like making 3D movies the new norm is just over-saturation. I completely agree that Hollywood should be ashamed of themselves for screwing this up (again) by not pulling customers in.

      The way to pull them in (to take a line from the non-3D “Social Network”) is EXCLUSIVITY. Instead of making everything 3D, save the technology for the films in which the 3D effects bring something dynamic. For every “Avatar” or “Transformers” that utilize it well, there are five or six like “Shark Night 3D” that ruin any credibility the technology can build.

      P.P.S. I actually just saw “Beauty and the Beast” in 3D, and I must say that is pretty fantastic. If they could only do that for “Aladdin.”

      • Mandy Kilinskis

        I wouldn’t call it fantastic. There were parts when the characters looks like paper dolls bouncing across the screen. 🙁

    • Rachel

      I agree with Bret here — 3D can be a really cool and value-adding effect, IF it’s used correctly and not just as a marketing ploy. I’m not sure I’ve seen a movie yet that has done this really well, but I know it’s possible. 🙂 Here’s to hoping for fewer 3D movies in general, but more movies that use 3D successfully!

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I hope that 3D dies in a fire. A huge, huge fire. A fire that was started when Ke$ha left too much of her glitter by a fireplace or something.

    3D rarely looks good. Or it’s made for a simply gimmick (try telling me that Yogi Bear was made for any other reason than to be in 3D). Television has no chance at crushing 3D, but maybe internet streaming will…

    • Alex Brodsky

      Internet Streaming certainly seems like the biggest obstacle this new 3D craze will have to conquer, and unfortunately, I’m sure studios and companies like Netflix are working on something.

      As far as Yogi Bear goes, I was at WB when that came out, even THEY were ashamed of that one

  5. Amy Swanson

    I’ve only seen one movie in 3D (‘Bolt’) and it was one of those where I could have saved the extra $3 and splurged on a large popcorn instead of seeing it in 3D. So, now I instantly just assume that any 3D movie is overpriced and not truly worth it.

    Great post, Alex! I loved all your amazing one-liners in it; “I’ve read the CliffsNotes for that book multiple times, and never saw anything requiring 3D” and “An FYI for the guys: the “I must draw you” line does not get a girl naked. It gets you slapped and hit with a restraining order” (my personal fav). Thanks for making me literally LOL 🙂

    • Alex Brodsky

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the one-liners!

      I never actually saw ‘Bolt’ but I assume that you are correct and the money would have been better served clogging up your arteries with the super-salty, ultra-buttery, completely delicious Movie Theater Popcorn.

      The trick is (if you don’t mind the puberty-stricken teenager behind the concession stand talking smack about you behind your back) to get the bag filled halfway, add the buttery topping, then fill it up the rest of the way, and add the buttery topping again.

      • Jill Tooley

        Ugh, you’re one of THOSE people, Alex? I definitely talked smack about your kind when I worked at a movie theater! 😉

        • Amy Swanson

          Hahaha, I’ll try that sometime when it’s not busy and I don’t have a hoard of angry teeny boppers standing behind me smacking their gum 😉

        • Alex Brodsky

          I talked smack about my kind too when I worked at a theater! But then I tried it, just to see what all the hubbub was about… and it… was… GLORIOUS!

  6. Jen

    I’ve never seen a movie in 3D and I don’t plan to, like Mandy said “I hope that 3D dies in a fire”. Nice post Alex!

    • Alex Brodsky

      If you haven’t yet, certainly wait til there’s something worthwhile. Otherwise it’ll just make you hate it even more.

  7. Jaimie Smith

    All I have to say is that I freaking LOVEEE the titanic and I am sooo excited to go see it in 3d!!!

    • Alex Brodsky

      Well, enjoy! I’m sure you are not alone in that. But I can save you $20 and 3 1/2 hours of your life by mentioning *spoiler alert* the ship sinks

    • Amanda

      I’m with you Jaimie. I love Titanic, and I will be perfectly happy to pay extra to see it in 3D this April. =)

  8. Eric

    That’s greed for ya. TDKR will make millions upon millions, and, surely, won’t have any problem at all selling tickets. The pre-sale tickets to the midnight-prior IMAX premiere have already sold out, and are being sold on EBay for a couple hundred, each. Why, and I mean why, would there be any point to making an already epic and visually arresting series of films 3D films?

    I think it cheapens live action, really, and – more than anything – is a gimmick to compensate for any and all lack of good, truthful storytelling. Save the money on making 3D films, Hollywood. Buy yourself some better writers with it. That’s where that money should go.

    And, as always…Chris Nolan is the man.

    Solid post, sir.

    • Alex Brodsky

      Thank you. Solid reply, as I agree with absolutely everything you said. The key word is “gimmick,” which is all 3D is. And the studios are just trying to cash in before the gimmick runs its course (as they ALL do)

  9. Joseph Giorgi

    You’re pretty much right on the money with this one. Studio greed plays an integral role in the large number of 3D re-releases we see hitting the theaters lately. For the time being, it’s an easy way for them to cash in on a bankable trend. But the trend may or may not last, so it’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out.

    Personally, I enjoy having the option of seeing a big-budget Hollywood production in either 2D or 3D. The thing is: I’ll only bother paying to see the 3D version if the movie in question was actually FILMED in 3D — as opposed to being converted to 3D for commercial purposes. Most of the 3D films we currently see hitting theaters are of the latter category, which, I agree, is overkill.

    I don’t see 3D dying anytime soon, but if Hollywood studios keep the 3D post-conversions and re-releases coming at the rate they currently do, then they’ll certainly hasten its demise.

    Then again, perhaps 3D will prevail in the long run. Who knows?!


    Awesome post, Alex!

    • Alex Brodsky

      It’s definitely a mixed bag. I want to see the demise of 3D movies, but I also do not want to sit through the barrage of crappy, post-conversion 3D movies that’ll bring about the end.

      I wish there was a big, red self-destruct button someone could press and just end it all swiftly

  10. Candice J.

    I’m not that great of a fan of 3D movies. I’ve seen them at home, in the theaters and IMAX and they fail to impress me. I think Bret is right when people just throw 3D in a tittle just for the novelty of using the name it never works out. 3D is hard to be done well and fluently. Hell, if you’re not going to do something right, don’t bother doing it at all.

    • Alex Brodsky

      Unfortunately, the reason they do it even though they can’t do it right is because people still fork over money for it… A lame reason, but a reason nonetheless.

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