Production Update

3D News Involving 'Titanic,' 'Star Wars' and 'Transformers 3'

Are the negative reactions to quick 3D conversions finally being heard by the studios?

James Cameron appears to be serious about his conversion of Titanic from 2D-to-3D, but instead of a six month conversion process enjoyed by the likes of Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender, Titanic is expected to hit theaters in 2012. The Los Angeles Times says we should expect the feature in theaters in April 2012 with the release coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of the sailing of the ship.

Also, in the tradition of keeping Star Wars in the news, a new audio mix is being created fueling new fires as George Lucas long ago said we should expect the original trilogy in 3D at some point. Is that time approaching?

Meanwhile, the previous confirmation Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch would be converted for its March 25, 2011 release now appears to have been either a bit premature or studios are beginning to second guess post-production conversion as Snyder tells MTV, "We've looked at a bunch of conversions, so whether or not we have the time to do it right - I'm not going to do it if we don't have the time to really be meticulous with it... It's such an awesome piece of work and everyone's worked so hard to make it awesome, so I don't want to screw it up with bad 3D."

Perhaps Cameron's long-term approach to Titanic and the lengthy amount of time Disney has taken bringing the 3D edition of Beauty and the Beast to screens will be a sign of things to come. Can we really expect the end of shoddy 3D conversions soon?

Continuing the 3D chatter, we already knew Transformers 3 would in fact be releasing in 3D after Anthony Breznican's USA Today story told us so, and it appears Michael Bay isn't going to take the conversion approach as he has often spoken ill of the process as well as said his way of shooting "is too aggressive for 3D cameras". Oh really?

MarketSaw spoke with Vince Pace, who worked with James Cameron to create the FUSION 3D and 2D digital camera systems, and he told them, "We took delivery of the first Alexa cameras for [Martin Scorsese's The Invention of Hugo Cabret] and have 23 more on the way. [Transformers 3] has also signed on to shoot 3D throughout the film. I am working on a big Disney film but can’t mention the name and are lining up five more films. Just wrapped on additional photography for Resident Evil and [Tron Legacy]. Currently in Hawaii and flying out to London forHugo."

Does any of this matter to you? While I am sure we can all agree films shot in 3D are preferred over those converted after the fact, but is it a matter of having good looking 3D or would we rather just have no 3D at all?

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  • Owen

    Something tells me that "big Disney film" Pace is referring to will be Pirates 4.

  • AJ

    I enjoy good 3-D, but I'm picky about which films I see in it. Even though Pixar does really nice work in 3-D, I chose to see Toy Story 3 in 2-D, because I felt the 3-D didn't add much to Up.

    Coraline and Avatar have so far been the films that I most enjoyed in 3-D. I'm curious to see what Beauty and the Beast looks like, and would be willing to give Titanic a chance as well, since I know I already enjoy those films anyway and don't mind the excuse to get to see them on the big screen again.

    I'm looking forward to seeing "Tron Legacy" in 3-D, certainly... Hopefully it lives up to the possibilities of what I imagine it could be.

    A Michael Bay film in 3-D sounds horrific, but if he actually changes his jerky camera work and fast-paced editing to fit the format it could only improve his work. Not that I'd pay to see a Bay Transformers movie either way.

    So I'm not at all looking for the end of 3-D... I think it can be a cool addition to the right films. I'll be happy if Hollywood doesn't strangle the golden goose by driving audiences away with badly converted dreck inbetween the stuff that really shines, though.

  • goavs

    Ugh 3D. I hate you James Cameron, trying to push 3D on us and the stupid studios have given in. I saw Toy Story 3 yesterday, and the 3D added nothing to the film(I had to watch it in 3D because the better "2D" was sold out, what does that tell you about 3D).

  • Winchester

    I don't hate 3D in the least.

    But it's not a requirement for every film to have it. So I just tend to choose what films I want to see in 3D and those I don't.

    Since I've never had a problem finding a showing of whichever one I pick I quite like the 3D experiences I've been to so far.

    Also - as far as I'm aware all Pixar films are originally filmed in 3D anyway, and were previously converted back to 2D for theatrical release so Disney isn't really spending any extra money on the 3D side of that.

    And since Avatar earned $2.7 billion globally, that's 2.7 billion reasons that they believe 3D can work for them just as nicely.

    • AJ

      It's not so much that Pixar movies are all filmed in 3D as much as they exist within the computer as 3D models in a virtual 3D space. Essentially, there is no camera filming it at all... the action and characters all exist virtually, and the camera point-of-view can be placed anywhere around the scene. So it's fairly easy to go back into the first Toy Story, for example, and place a second virtual camera to record the viewpoint of the left eye (assuming the original film represented the right eye view), thus giving you true 3D.

      Or, if they wanted to, they could go back and record the same action and animation from completely new camera angles... say, letting the audience see the movie entirely from Woody's eyes. The one issue here is that, much like live-action movie sets, there are probably angles of view where the illusion of the virtual sets fall apart... I know in the video game industry we use the equivalent of matte paintings and such to fake some things when we know the player is never going to be able to look too closely at something, or at a view from a certain angle.

      So with the older computer animated movies, they didn't really convert 3D animation into 2D for theatrical release... rather, they simply "filmed" it with one camera originally, much like any other movie. It's just that every scene still exists virtually, allowing them to go back and add the second camera to capture the 3D view at any time.

      • AJ

        Actually, what I wrote about "filming the scenes through Woody's eyes" probably wouldn't work at all, since I'm sure that there is no existing animation for characters that are in a space but off camera for each scene... If there's a close up of Woody talking to Buzz in Andy's room, they certainly wouldn't have bothered to have the computer render complex characters and objects that weren't on screen.

        So while I suppose they could still film the scenes from Woody's eyes, you'd likely notice that Andy's other toys stopped existing when they weren't on screen.

    • Winchester

      Ah, that makes some sense. It was a long time ago I read about the 2D/3D thing.

  • randy

    i seriously would like to slap the first guy to start using 3D in movies. He is destroying film and future media. I dont give a shit about 3D probably never will. The only amusement i like getting out of it is on rides at Theme parks and such. Now its a full 2hour+ movie ... and now video games! Killing my outlook on the future!!

  • Ian

    Getting rid of post-conversion is a step in the right direction of getting this gimmick out of Hollywood. Notice though that while WB might not force Zack Snyder to post-convert Sucker Punch, they're still dead set on it for Harry Potter. Obviously it won't add much to the bottom line for Sucker Punch, which won't make much money to begin with, but it will add at least tens of million to Harry Potter's bottom line. But hopefully Harry Potter and all the other post-converted films due out this Christmas will perform similar to Airbender and Clash in the 3D department: 54% and 52% of their grosses respectively. Which means that in terms of ticket sales, it's about even, or even slightly in favor of 2D. Yeah I know Alice was post-converted, but that wasn't publicized at all, plus it was almost all CGI and those aspects were converted in the same or similar manner as for animated films. And even Toy Story and Shrek have only taken around 60% of their grosses from 3D (which again means actual ticket sales are closer to even), a far cry from the 70% Alice and Dragon commanded. That shows that people won't just line up for 3D like they did for Avatar (for which I thought the 3D looked just as cheesy and fake as for any other film). If studios can't get people to show up for post-converted films at up to $25 per ticket for LIE-MAX 3D, they'll start actually shooting in 3D, as is the case with Pirates, Transformers, etc. But that costs significantly more than post-converting, and if people still don't show up at big rates it will begin to become cost-prohibitive. Of course one film that could really muck all this up is Tron. That was shot in 3D and is being heavily marketed as the next 3D tentpole. If people are suckered into it at the 70-80% rate as they were with Avatar, the studios will say "Look, everyone loves 3D!" and the cycle will start over. That's why I would say it's the duty of those of us who support traditional 2D cinema over a cheesy, pointless gimmick, to not support any film in 3D, and especially not Tron.

    And in regards to being able to choose which format you see a film in...that may not last much longer if things keep moving in the 3D direction. Theatres will be upconverting like crazy leading up to Harry Potter and Tron and 2D versions will become harder to find, especially in the bigger markets where the upconverting will happen first. Case in point: in my town there have been six total prints of Toy Story at two different theatres since its release. Only one is in 2D. And also, theatres are generally upconverting their biggest auditoriums to support these 3D tentpoles, which that if you have a choice of 2D, you'll probably have to settle for a small screen.

    • Ian

      When I say don't support any film in 3D, I don't mean don't see it at all, I just mean see it in 2D. I'm stoked for Harry Potter and Tron looks pretty cool, but I'll seek those out in 2D, even if I have to drive to another town.

      • jon

        You're stoked for Harry Potter!? You have zero credibility...lol.

  • jeremy wein

    not to be a smartass brad but suckerpunch comes out march 25th of 2011 not 2012