James Cameron gives Hollywood 3D advice: try

RALEIGH, North Carolina, (Reuters Life!) – Since  director James Cameron’s “Avatar” raked in $2.8 billion at  global box offices, Hollywood has flooded theaters with wave  after wave of 3D movies, but some industry watchers wonder if  theatergoers are now drowning in it.

While a few of this summer’s 3D movies crossed the $1  billion global box office mark, there’s been a backlash from  the media and moviegoers over the poor quality of some 3D films  that are converted into the medium instead of filmed in it.

Cameron believes Hollywood needs to make some changes to  win back fans. He and partner Vince Pace have been busy working  on their “Avatar” sequels and collaborating with filmmakers  like Michael Bay (“Transformers”) and Kevin Tancharoen (“Glee:  The 3D Concert Movie”) to help bring better 3D experiences to  theaters. Those films have used the Fusion 3D camera system  that Cameron and Pace designed for “Avatar.”

Cameron talked to Reuters about the current and future 3D  landscape, how some theater owners are hurting the 3D business,  and why Hollywood may soon be offering movie-goers discounts  for 2D movies, in this exclusive interview.

Q: Why the backlash after all the big 3D movies that have  been released?

A: “I think the media has overplayed the so-called  ‘backlash.’ If you look at total revenue, it’s not an issue.  There are more 3D movies than there have ever been before. So  they’re tending to divide the marketplace, but the total  revenue for 3D has consistently grown since it started four or  five years ago.

Q: What do you think Hollywood needs to do to get the  public engaged in 3D movies from a creative perspective?

A: “This is a good moment for Hollywood to acknowledge that  they have to try harder to maintain the idea that 3D is a  premium experience. We can’t take cheap routes to offer a 3D  title in the marketplace. I’m not a big fan of 3D conversion  because I think it produces what I call 2-and-a-half-D. It  doesn’t have the depth of native 3D that’s actually been  photographed in 3D. Post conversion tends to be a little harder  on the eyes and not give you a good depth experience. The  audience is reacting and they’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, I’m  paying a premium price for a ticket and I’m not getting the  added value that I wanted from 3D.’“

Q: So, then, where are we headed?

A: “Two things are happening. One, 3D is not as exotic as  it once was and people are realizing they shouldn’t go see a  movie just because it’s 3D. When it was exotic, people would go  see anything in 3D. Two, there are more 3D movies out there.  People are more selective about what they see in 3D based on  the movie itself, the story, the actors…I always predicted  this would happen as 3D finds its rightful place just as color  did, just as sound did.”

Q: Is the higher price of 3D tickets, especially in this  economy, impacting box office?

A: “As time goes on over the next couple of seasons, it  will be harder and harder to defend the premium pricing. Not  because the quality is not being maintained, but because more  and more films are being made in 3D and at a certain point the  majority, meaning 51 percent or more of major movies will be  made in 3D. When 3D is the norm, you have to give a discount  for 2D movies. You can’t charge a premium for 3D ones.”

Q: Why do 3D films seem to be attracting bigger audiences  internationally than domestically?

A: “The international audience is maybe less jaded about  3D. The exhibitors may be making sure that the quality of 3D on  the screen is high, meaning correct light levels.”

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