Despite the fact I spend a fairly big portion of my time in them, I'm not really a huge fan of movie theaters. I really like seeing movies on a big screen with good sound, sure, but (A) tickets are too fucking expensive, (B) the blaring, nonstop advertising at chains like Regal Cinemas makes me want to strangle myself, and (C) I swear to god, don't get me started on why 90 percent of people still can't figure out how to shut up or stop texting for two goddamn hours. (Seriously, some dude was even texting through Let the Right One In at the Living Room Theaters on Saturday afternoon. "OMG vampir is like a kitty!!!!") And yes, I realize this is making me sound like a cantankerous, grumpy, out-of-touch old man, but hey, that reminds me—shut your ungrateful pie hole and get the hell off my lawn. Go watch your 30 Rockefeller on your fancy little empty-four eyephone, you little shit.
ANYWAY. Curmudgeonly bitching and moaning aside, I know I'm not alone in disliking elements of the contemporary moviegoing experience, especially since at this point, any half-decent HD TV has more or less eliminated the gap in presentation quality between watching something at home and watching something in most of Portland's theaters. And so we arrive at the much-ballyhooed promise of 3-D—which studios and theater owners have been hoping for years will once again make people excited about paying to sit in dark rooms with strangers. “I believe that this is the single greatest opportunity for the moviegoing experience since the advent of color,” Jeffrey Katzenberg rhapsodically gushed to the Times back in 2007. "It will become another consumer choice, like premium or regular gas," James Cameron told Business Week. "The premium experience of 3D will be the preferred viewing experience for action, animated, fantasy, and science fiction films."
Maybe Cameron's right—films like Bolt, Beowulf, and everyone's favorite, U2 3D, have apparently done well enough to introduce the format to moviegoers, and Cameron's own 3-D mega-opus, Avatar, comes out in December—and if you don't think that's gonna change things, you might want to revisit the intersections of technology and box office demonstrated by Cameron's Titanic and Terminator 2.
Anyway, 3-D—whether you like it or not—is now heading into your home, too. Hit the jump for the details on the 3D ad for Monsters vs. Aliens that'll air during the Super Bowl, plus news on the 3-D television sets debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Vegas.
The official press release about the Monsters vs. Aliens business, by way of ComingSoon.net:
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. and PepsiCo’s SoBe Lifewater today announced that they have joined together with Intel Corporation and NBC to create a first-of-its kind, nationwide ‘Monstrous’ 3D event for Super Bowl XLIII. This first-ever all 3D Super Bowl commercial break event will mark the debut of DreamWorks Animation’s premier 3D movie trailer for its upcoming feature film, Monsters vs. Aliens, which comes to theaters in the U.S. on March 27th.
In addition, the timeslot will feature a 60-second 3D SoBe Lifewater commercial marking the return of the ultra-hip SoBe lizards, who made noise during last year’s Super Bowl broadcast with one of the most talked about spots.
I dare you to try and read that whole thing, which is filled with phrases like "additional messaging," "Super Bowl commercial veteran and brand architect Peter Arnell," and "a modern interpretation of the famed ballet Swan Lake, and the rhythmic effects when the players and creatures are infused with the refreshing and re-invigorating impact of SoBe Lifewater." (Holy fuck, someone actually wrote that.) But the point is, 3-D! Though it'll probably be some half-assed variation on old-school, migraine-inducing 3-D, with the blue and red glasses.
More interesting is the news that non-shitty digital 3-D might be coming to living rooms. From the LA Times:
"The studios are putting a lot of money into producing 3-D movies for digital cinema, and there's an incredible slate of 3-D movies coming" in 2009, said Brad Hunt, former chief technology officer of the Motion Picture Assn. of America and now president of Digital Media Directions, a consulting firm in Westlake Village. "They're now very interested in creating a thriving 3-D home video market to generate payback for their investments in making these movies."
...It will be several years before 3-D TVs become mainstream. That's because the consumer electronics industry, movie studios and broadcasters have yet to agree on standards for recording, transmitting, receiving and interpreting 3-D signals. Many are hoping those technical details can be ironed out this year, Hunt said. Only then can the work of creating discs, players and TV sets to display 3-D video begin in earnest, he said.
That hasn't stopped companies such as Philips, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Panasonic from introducing "3-D-ready" sets. Philips last fall demonstrated a 3-D display that didn't require glasses. Panasonic is expected to make announcements about its 3-D plasma technology at the Consumer Electronics Show.
It makes sense that studios would want to keep the money train rolling on their 3-D pictures. At this point, theatrical releases have basically become glorified ads for films' DVD sales, and since home video is such an incredibly lucrative market, it doesn't make sense for studios to pour a ton of money into things that can only be shown in certain theaters. (Even Avatar will be released in in theaters in 2-D, in addition to its 3-D release, though you can bet the marketing push will be for its 3-D and 3-D Imax screenings. Once that's over, though, the 2-D DVD and Blu-ray will be where the money's at.) As for legit, easy-to-watch 3-D screens in living rooms, though, it'll probably take a while. Within five or 10 years, I'd expect most movie theaters will be equipped to show at least certain films digitally; once that level of theatrical 3-D saturation sets in, it's a good guess that 3-D home theaters will follow... at which point studios and theater owners will have to dream up some entirely new reason to get people into theaters. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the return of 4-D.