Yes folks, it's 1954 all over again as the 3D backlash has officially begun. Last month at Comic-Con, two Hollywood directors Josh Whedon and JJ Abrams made disparaging and somewhat defiant comments about the new technology. Abrams, who did the 2D "Star Treck" reboot and Whedon, who is resisting a 3D conversion of his upcoming horror film "The Cabin In The Woods", highlighted the technical limitations of 3D as well as saying that they didn't view it as a movie savior the same way the suits do.
Today's TIMES takes up the issue of the backlash, including the widespread reports of cheering by rabid "Hobbitt" fans when it was announced the movie would be shot old school. Unfortunately, 3D will not exactly be going away any time soon. More than 5,000 theaters have been converted in the US, roughly one out of every 8 screens. Also, given the fact that 3D ads $3-5 bucks to ticket prices, the studios have a big incentive to keep cranking them out. In fact, unnamed studio execs said that decisions about final formats for "Hobbit" and "Woods" are still in process, countering the filmmaker's claims.
As a director, I agree the technology of 3D can easily get in the way of storytelling. If all you're trying to do is throw things at the audience, that's not a movie....that's just a ride. The fact that Warner Brother's summer blockbuster "Inception" did not go 3D is a testament to this fact. I think the 3D in "Avatar" worked well but that was not the key to that movie's success. What made it unusual was that Cameron told a beautiful, cinematic story....a rarity in the thrill-driven movie marketplace of the moment. And if too many movies go 3D, it will become a gimmick just like in the 50's.