katz3d katz3d

Jeffrey Katzenberg Defends 3-D …Again

Jeffrey Katzenberg talks about how he plans to sustain the 3-D fad during this interview with The Wall Street Journal. He also discusses how seeing Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express inspired him to bet the farm on 3-D films.

Katzenberg gets testy after one of the reporter’s softball questions about a dip in attendance (around the 4 minute mark). It must be tough work maintaining the facade that 3-D is the savior of theaters, when in fact, 3-D has done absolutely nothing to renew interest amongst moviegoers in the United States nor has it substantially boosted box office grosses.

According to Box Office Mojo, less people attended the movies in the US last year than any year since 1995! A fifteen-year low in movie attendance is a pretty good indicator of a backlash if you ask me.

The economy played a role, but it was intensified by the greed of movie theaters. During the Great Depression, movie theaters DROPPED ticket prices. Last year, theaters not only raised prices, tickets had the largest year-over-year increase since 2001. Of course, how much did the ticket price increase have to do with theater owners being forced to placate producers like Katzenberg by installing new 3-D systems?

It is true that global box office rose in 2009 (2010 numbers aren’t out yet, but they’re likely to be solid). Foreign markets will continue to be the primary growth area for movie studios, but the exorbitant cost of 3-D ticket prices, combined with the rise of home movie theaters, may prove to be the last nail in the coffin for the movie theater experience in the United States.*

(* Just to be clear, I’m not predicting the demise of movies, only movie theaters. Like the music industry, they’ve priced themselves out of existence. In the next ten to fifteen years, I believe audiences in the US will gain the option of streaming new theatrical releases to their home movie theaters or portable devices, thus returning per-viewer “ticket” prices to more normal levels.)

  • Paul

    Yeah….he got excited about “Polar Express” when he saw the ticket price was over $15 per person. “Polar Express” was awful in all regards (mostly story) and I’ve enjoyed every film made in 3D MORE when I didn’t see it in 3D.

  • Markus

    I hope that Dreamworks re-releases kung-fu panda in 3D. There are sequences in that movie that are just made for a 3d experience…and I’m actually not a big fan of 3d. I’ve only enjoyed Coraline and Dragon so far…

  • end of line

    For me, I’d rather avoid 3D. TRON messed up my eyesight for a whole day afterward.

  • Steve M.

    Oh great, he wants us to lose our sight and our money.

    • Ryoku

      And our dinners, I lost a full 3 course meal and my snacks after watching Avatar in 3D!

  • As far as diminishing ticket buyers, in the absence of actual research my feeling is the bigger culprits are the poor economy, the shortening window between theatrical release and home video availability, the overall lack of compelling productions, and competition from other media.

    Some 3D movies have done poorly but on average the 3D movies seem to be doing as well or better than the 2D movies released in the same market.

    I think studios should collude among themselves to pick a couple of years per decade to roll out a bunch of 3D movies then hold off for the other 8 so as not to wear out its welcome.

    • amid

      The economy played a role, but it was intensified by the greed of movie theaters. During the Great Depression, movie theaters DROPPED ticket prices. Last year, theaters not only raised prices, tickets had the largest year-over-year increase since 2001.

      Of course, how much did the ticket price increase have to do with theater owners being forced to placate producers like Katzenberg by installing new 3-D systems? The inadvertent long-term effect of 3-D may well be the death of movie theaters.

      • Since most of that largest-since-2001 increase is in the 3D tickets themselves, ticket price increase doesn’t explain why the 2D movies are fairing less wonderfully also. If 3D is genuinely hated, shouldn’t there be a 2D boom?

        There are too many variables at work here. If “Toy Story 3” had been released in only 2D would it have taken in more money at $2 less per ticket because 3D-weary movie goers flocked to it? Or is the decision to go to a movie pretty much the same for a $12 dollar ticket as it is for a $10 ticket (the difference here in Dallas)?

        The charity of Depression-era theater owners: During the depression ticket prices were lower than the bubble year of 1929 but not much lower than the years immediately before that.


        I don’t think any of those price points reveal nuanced levels of Theater owner greed. They’ve always been charging whatever brings in the most total haul.

        You need to get Nate Silver to do real statistical analysis on it all to decide what’s really going on. The fact that some of these 3D movies have been spectacular successes makes me doubtful that there’s a widespread backlash against 3D, even though there are people on the internet dramatically insisting there is one.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Still, it’s a shame they aren’t lowering prices yet bother to feel compelled to maintain all the new systems they have to now keep up with the Joneses for.

    • Shawn’s Bro

      the 3D movies seem to be doing as well or better than the 2D movies released in the same market.

      Maybe, but over the holidays I couldn’t choose to see the movies I wanted in the theaters near me without seeing them in 3D. If I had a choice to make I would have chosen 2D.

      • Funkybat

        A poster above said that seeing a film in 3D boosted the ticket price by $2. I’d love to know where that is, because around me, a “3D presentation” costs an extra $4.00! And if you wan a 3D “Imax Experience,” forget it, it’s like $18 a ticket total! The only time I saw anything in 3D Imax was in a theater in New England, and I think the total ticket price was $12, which is less than a standard-size 3D movie is in the Bay Area.

        Unless it’s something I really enjoy and takes advantage of the 3D effect, such as Coraline, I just don’t feel like shelling out half the price of a theme park admission for a night at the movies….

  • Deaniac

    Ugh, why must this man insist on using this godawful 3D fad? All it does is boost ticket prices and piss alot of people of. In fact, here’s an experience that should hit home for Mr. Katzenberg & friends:

    For my little brother’s 11th birthday, I took him and one of his friends to see Megamind. The movie theater was only showing the movie in 3D – trust me, if I could have found a different movie theater, I would have – so I reluctantly accepted. It ended up costing me at LEAST $35 (I think it was $11 for my ticket, $7 each for my brother and his friend), and that’s without popcorn and drinks! On top of that, the movie was flat out mediocre, but that’s another story for another day. ;)

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that nobody is going to pay extra just to see some characters stick a few inches from a movie screen, and it shows in those statistics Amid posted. Honestly, to hell with this gimmicky shit. Just give us some fresh, enjoyable stories and we’ll be set. And that really applies to ANY movie studio, not just Dreamworks.

    • Sean D

      Wow, here in San Francisco, a 3D ticket for a child matinee is $11.50. Last movie I saw in 3D was Tron Legacy at the bargain price of $14.25.

      The pricing is ridiculous when you realize that the same studios are offering Blu-Ray/DVD combos for less than the price of two tickets, and what you’re getting with a home video purchase is usually a better experience (don’t have to deal with sound and image malfunctions, annoying theater patrons, or rude theater employees), you can bring in your own food, tons of really cool extra features, and the ability to watch it again and again, or sell it off after you’re finished with it.

      • You’re right about theater prices being ridiculous, compared to DVD/blu-ray. But home TVs will never replace the feeling and experience of seeing a film in a theater, surrounded by other people. That’s what makes the theater experience worth it. Much like seeing a band live, as opposed to listening to their album in your bedroom.

      • Funkybat

        I love the “theater experience” more than most of my friends, who have long since accepted DVD and streaming video as their main media consumption methods. Still, even we “theater geeks” can be pushed only so far. I used to go to independent theaters to see limited run niche and “art” films, both to support non-chain theaters and because the movies were usually shown only at indie theaters. After a while, the limited runs of a few weeks at most, the inconvenient/expensive parking in the “hip” areas where the theaters were, and the expensive tickets pretty much drove me to relying on Netflix for those kinds of movies. Unless it’s something weird/rare that probably won’t have a DVD release in this country, I just wait for the rental.

        As for blockbuster-type films, I pretty much only go to see animated films and a few well-chosen “popcorn” flicks each year. For something like “Snakes on a Plane” or “The Expendables” the shared experience with an audience makes something mediocre at best into a fun time. I used to go see pretty much any action, horror, or comedy that came out, but tickets were like $4.50 back then and the snacks didn’t get into the double digits. As long as a night at the movies costs me $20 or more per person, it’s going to remain a rare treat. I understand that upgrading the projectors and such costs the theater operators money, but to be honest I don’t care. It won’t make me spend money I can’t afford when I can watch stuff at home on a 46 inch screen with hi-res, clear graphics, often for nothing more than the cost of a monthly Netflix membership. Theaters will have to adapt to a world where people have “better” screens at home.

    • Mat

      Wow, you guys have cheap prices compared to those of us living in Australia. $22 for an adult to see a 3D film and $18.50 for 2D. Not sure of kids prices though. Fortunately for us on Tuesdays the price of 2D goes down to $11.50. At the moment the Aussie dollar is worth the same as the US dollar too. Every few years patrons will complain about the ticket prices and cinemas will briefly bring them down but once they think people have forgotten the prices shoot up again but this is why I rarely go to the movies these days.

      • Mark

        Yeah, I make sure I’m a member of my local cinema so I get in for $9.50, but usually the tickets are $17 for 2D and $19 for 3D… although I think they may have risen recently to $21.50.

      • Funkybat

        Damn! If I lived in Oz, I would probably never go to the movies unless the schedule of showtimes that day guaranteed I could theater hop into at least one other flick on that same visit. No way I’d ever pay $20 bucks per movie.

  • As a glasses-wearing nerd I hate 3D and if I take them off I loose the sharpness of the image. The 3D glasses have to sit near the tip of my nose and this makes the experience vomit inducing. Can’t we just go back to 3D being 3D animation and leave the shades for the beach?

    • Mat

      I hate those 3D glasses too. I too am short sighted and need to wear glasses to see things clearly, but it is impossible to comfortably wear the 3D glasses over the top of my regular glasses. And everytime I’ve gone to watch a movie in 3D I end up coming out of the cinema with a headache.

  • Sean D

    “The fact is you replace a car more frequently than you replace a television set.”

    Is that really a fact? It’s not true for me. I’ve had the same car for 11 years. In that time period, I’ve had four TVs.

    I have yet to see a movie that has been enhanced by the use of 3D. Unlike sound and color which are filmmaking tools, 3D is more of a marketing tool at this point. Given the choice, I will always choose to see the non-3D version- because it’s both a more enjoyable experience for me and costs less.

    • Mat

      I’m not sure about in America but here in Australia the latest gimmick is 3D television, another fad I just don’t get. I cannot understand how people can actually want to sit around with the 3D glasses on to watch Deal Or No Deal or the nightly news on a 3D TV.

    • Ryoku

      Rarely anyone keeps a car as long as 11 years, dunno why as all you need is something that runs and thats easy on your wallet.

      TV’s don’t change on the outside every year.

      I’ve seen two 3D film (Christmas Carol, which seemed to be made for 3D) and Avatar. Both were okay and all the 3D did was make me sick afterwards.

    • Funkybat

      I kept the same TV for 10 years, and have had the same car for about 10 years now. I only replaced the TV because I wanted widescreen HD, and I don’t plan to “upgrade” to something else for at least another 5 years. As for the car, I hope to keep it going another 20-30, mainly because no one knows how to build “real cars” anymore.

  • JD

    I’m sure services like Netflix and Redbox have made an impact as well. The price for HD televisions keeps dropping. So after a while, why go to the theaters? I’ve yet to see a 3D film that I felt was worth the extra money.

    • Clement

      Tv series are probably playing a role as well.

      • Funkybat

        Eh, maybe for some. To me, TV programming has more or less jumped the shark. Almost anything except for “special” shows like Mad Men or Dexter is just utter garbage to me. Hell, that “April Fools” gag Hulu had the other day, where they pretended it was 1996, just made me nostalgic for stuff like NewsRadio, The X-Files and Sliders (Sliders!) I got more enjoyment out of watching 15 year old episodes of the Dana Carvey show than I’ve gotten out of almost anything I’ve seen “new” on TV in the last few months.

        Aside from animated shows, I mostly use my TV to watch DVDs of movies and old TV series from 20-40 years ago.

  • Tee

    It seems like we’re headed toward the $70 Million movie ticket. “Just sell one ticket and we’re in the black, people!”

    3D is stupid.

  • Mark

    In Australia, most cinemas charge $19 for a 3D adult ticket. It’s utterly insane. I can buy most blu-rays for $15.

  • I wish they’d take the audio out of animation, too. I sit there, trying to see the movie, and then I hear all this stuff. It’s distracting!

    When done correctly (filmed stereoscopicly rather than post processed) 3D is a much greater experience than 2D alone. It opens up a lot of storytelling tools to a director who is keen enough to use them.

    A whole new process involves some costs up front, that’s just how it is. It takes time to cover those costs and learn how to best use the new tools. I think over time we will see the gap in 2D vs 3d tickets narrow, and possibly disappear all together. There are already advances in stereoscopic imagery that need no glasses to work. It’s only a matter of time before studios, theaters, and movie goers all arrive on the same page.

    • Michael Grabowski

      “It opens up a lot of storytelling tools to a director who is keen enough to use them.”

      Yes, but in the meantime 3D is being used to market more and more garbage and inflate ticket prices.

      Of course, it’s all up to the market. No one’s forced to go watch these. There are plenty of movies made every year in 3D and 2D–animated and/or live-action–that are clearly lousy from the first trailer onward yet apparently make enough money to generate sequels and copies ad infinitum. No one has to go see Katzenberg’s movies, but people do. His films apparently make money (or at least some of them make plenty of money to subsidize the less successful ones), so he’s got no reason as yet to stop producing them.

    • Karen

      “When done correctly (filmed stereoscopicly rather than post processed) 3D is a much greater experience than 2D alone”

      Doesn’t lessen the 30% loss in brightness, contrast, and color. Or the need for glasses.

      Or the fact that it does, indeed, cause eye damage with long term viewing.

      Why pay more for lesser quality, especially with no single payer health system (yet)?

      • “Or the fact that it does, indeed, cause eye damage with long term viewing.”

        Where did you pull that from? I think I know, but I want to make sure.

      • Karen

        Most medical doctors, not paid by the motion picture lobbies. It’s ALL “fake,” and you’re staring at a flat screen. Your eyes are being TRICKED into seeing stereo. Even the so-called “quality” stereoscopic cinematography is off enough (and attempts to standardize it make it worse) so that it’s only “approximate.” Hence the multitude of headaches from viewers after watching these films for even brief periods. There.s more evidence for damage than there is for not.

        There is no “correct” way to shoot stereo. Unless you can standardize every audience member’s eyes, which you cannot.

      • So you pulled this from most medical doctors then? Do you have a link to the medical study?

      • Adam

        I’d also like to see a link on this, if one exists. Sounds like nonsense.

      • Stephen M. Levinson

        Adam and Floyd, my name is Dr.Stephen Levinson practicing AutoStereoscopology at the institute of vision for animation in Los Angeles. I have written a study that proves there is major damage being caused to your eyes. After a normal viewing without the 3D picture there is no effect on the viewers eyes. Compared to viewers who were watching 3D with glasses and Autostereoscopic televisions, subjects eyes began to bleed after 30 minutes of viewing. Only 1 patient’s eyes didn’t have any effect named Mr.Rabbit. Roger actually prefered the autostereoscopic tv. Children between the ages of 1-5 will lose their vision perminantly after watching 3D films for more than 1.000393 seconds. 1.000392 is an acceptable amount of viewing for ages 1-5.

        This is a study conducted by me privately, but is as credible as a study conducted by 1,000 men.

      • So there is no medical study you can link to that states that viewing stereoscopic 3D causes eye damage?

      • Stephen M. Levinson

        ….that is correct.

    • Funkybat

      I can see that 3D projection has continued to be a passionate subject for a lot of people. Thought I’d chime in with my bit (which isn’t all that passionate.)

      My main problem with the current 3D theater tech is that the glasses are dark and consequently, the final images are dimmer than they should be. I am not sure if there is a way to set the projectors to compensate by making the lamps even brighter than usual, but I dislike how the colors and luminosity are impacted.

      That said, 3D can make for a wonderful experience, but most films do not really call for it. The only films that I feel were worth paying to see in 3D were Coraline and Avatar. Unlike other 3D live action films, James Cameron went all out to take filming in 3D and visual effects in 3D to another level. I would have been much less into the film with its myriad problems if I had seen it in 2D. Coraline was mesmerizing in 3D, paid to see it twice, which I rarely do these days. I’ve seen it since then at home, and while it is still an amazing film, I miss the depth of 3D.

      I dislike the surcharge for 3D, since to me movie tickets are already inflated (though it sounds like our poor friends down in Oz are taking it in the tuchus with prices that I’d never consider paying.) With Netflix and Amazon, I really have to be into a movie to pay to see it in theaters, and I’m one of those “theater people” who likes the “experience.” Most of what I have paid to see in 2010 has been animated, and while I sometimes went to see things in 3D, if I went a second time I went 2D so I could enjoy the brightness and colors and not worry about getting popcorn grease on my 3D glasses.

      I am going to skip the 3D TV thing until they actually make the images appear sans glasses. I’m willing to put up with it now and then at the movies, but not all the time at home.

  • Stereoscopic Mind

    It’s all irrelevant. The movie theater is a lumbering dinosaur trying to eek out an existence as it waits for the inevitable extinction. Each year there’s less and less reason to go to the theater. Even if stereoscopic 3D sticks around it makes no difference. 3D TVs are gaining momentum. Glasses free 3D devices are already available and Nintendo will bust that gate open in a few months.

    The studios just want to get the most out of it while they can (3D = higher ticket prices = big box office). But it’s all just a big advertisement for the home video DVD/BRD/Itunes,Vudu/Boxee/Redbox/Netflix/BingBong/Winfworp/LALA release.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      But isn’t that was is happening anyway, we’ve over-spoiled ourselves simply by the simple act of NOT WAITING for anything to show up yet?

    • Stephen M. Levinson

      What is BingBong?

  • DMCGeezus

    After they’ve pushed us all into having 3D TVs, replacing our already extensive DVD and Blu-Ray films with a new format and completely “future proofing” ourselves – then what?

    What’s next for you greedy mother f***ers. I refuse to smell my movies.

    • red pill junkie

      Actually, they didn’t make a good job pushing us to dump our DVDs for Blu-Rays. My 6-year-old DVD still delivers a pretty good image to my 4-year-old 1080i flatscreen. So far I haven’t seen a good reason to upgrade, and neither have the majority of people who still rent DVDs in Blockbuster (Mexico).

  • Sean P

    Why is his audio so bad? Ran out of mics?

    *Insert obligatory 3D rant here*

  • I really wanted to see Tron Legacy, but it was only playing in 3D in my town. I can’t see 3D. I don’t have enough eyes. I wish the theaters and studios would think of us, visually challenged people, and at least offer alternating 2D performances.

    • Julian Carter

      Do you mean you’re blind from one eye? My brother has eye problems and complains similarly, so I can understand.

    • Anonymous

      If you are blind in one eye, it might be possible to form a class action lawsuit against the movie industry under the grounds that you are forced to pay more money and yet are getting unequal treatment. Just the thought of getting their ass hauled into court could be enough to shut a lid on this fad.

      • Stephen M. Levinson

        If you’re blind in one eye and you put on the glasses, it will just look a regular 2D film.

  • Trevor

    We’re all coming into this new aspect of film blindly. What I’m excited about is finding the “depth language” of 3D and seeing what awesome techniques develop like with sound and color.

    I do think, that we need to be pushing for a non-glasses 3D though.

  • I agree that movie ticket prices have gotten ridiculously high. So why are we still going to the movies? The bottom line is that moviegoing is cheaper than most other forms of entertainment outside the home. Sorry about your local theater, Michel Gagné, many theaters offer both versions of film and audiences still are willing to pay extra for the 3D experience, perhaps not in as overwhelming numbers as when Avatar came out, but still enough to quiet the nay-sayers. If it was just a fad it would have died last year. Katzenberg got testy because there was an annalist who made a graph to show that attendance for 3D is steadily dropping off, but his analysis has been discredited. Amid, you make a good point about theaters pricing themselves out of existence, but that prediction was put forward in the 50’s when TV hit mass market, and then in the 80’s when home video became widespread. Every time reports of the movie theater’s death were greatly exaggerated. The fact is that people just want to get out of the house.

    • Amen, brother. If TV and home video didn’t kill theaters, then nothing will.

    • amid

      Steve – Real changes in consumer behavior can rarely be discerned by extrapolating data from fifty years ago, or suggesting that because it hasn’t happened before, it won’t happen now. There has been a fundamental shift in how young people today consume media as opposed to our earlier generations. Yes, people want to get out of the house, but there’s a good chance they won’t be doing it at movie theaters in the future. Who could have predicted the death of book stores, music stores, and video rental stores all in the past few years. There’s reason to believe that movie theaters are next in line. New generations who haven’t grown up with these institutions aren’t going to miss them one bit.

      • Mark

        Certainly small cinema is suffering. I mean, most people go to see the big event films because, well, they’re an event and need to be seen on the big screen (or so I’m told). But whose going to shell out $20 per person to go see the smaller films? It’s no wonder there’s an ever widening gap between the successful films and the failures.

        The thing is, I don’t think people are going to miss cinema that much, because cinema as it is today is not the same as cinemas fifty years ago. Those are the ones people miss. What we’ve got now is just a distorted version of it.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        That is a sad fact Amid. Today’s youth certainly has it better over what we could do throughout the 20th Century, and yet at the same time, it’s also depresses me thinking of the places I wanted to go to that are now being sent to the mist of time all because of this new form of “disposable entertainment” as I call it.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I guess we should be thankful for that if people still remember there’s a door leading outside their home to start with.

  • Alissa

    Blech. It’s a good thing both theaters in my area offer 2D alongside 3D or I’d never go. Why should I spend almost seven dollars more for a ticket?

    Mr. Katzenberg needs to work on his 3D sale pitch, ’cause I still ain’t buying it.

  • You guys are all wrong. Piranha 3-DD will be a game changer. You heard it here first

  • Stephen M. Levinson

    I think as long as theatres continue to show CGI films in 3D people will go see it. Also you take for granted the ability to watch films on an enormous screen. If movies all go straight to your home, you’ll never get that same viewing experience. Unless you’re super rich and have a full size movie theatre in your home. When you go to the movie theatre you want to see something different than what you watch on a normal basis on TV. There is little to no 3D on TV and there are few CGI cartoons. But once TV’s have 3D and most TV show cartoons are CGI, they’ll need to do something that’ll be different than what people always see. I think it’s a matter of saturation. And the reason I believe TV animation will move to 3D and CGI more and more down the line is because people are coming more and more accepting of that as a standard and 2D may be seen as “cheaper” in comparison to 3D. Keep in mind my opinion comes from someone who absolutely loves 2D. I don’t want to ever see it go away.

  • FriendtoAll

    I saw Tron Legacy in 3D a theater. The 3D effects contributed so little to the film that partway in, I took off the glasses and was able to watch it as a slightly blurry 2-D film.

    Jeffery K. has a product to sell, so he’s obviously going to extol the virtues of 3D in spite of facts or reality.

  • Brandon

    “Yes there were instances where people put out 1 or 2 movies that were CRUMMY…”

    Two problems I have with this statement:

    1. The movies he’s referring to, more than likely came out of Dreamworks.

    2. He’s insisting that the movies not getting enough money had to do with the quality of the films, not that them being in 3D discouraged people from seeing them and paying extra.

    Someone please kick this guy in the balls.

  • Ken Cope

    You won’t see the demise of movie theaters. What you’re watching is the demise of film, a huge eater of distribution costs. I won’t miss the artifacts of film when it’s really and sincerely dead.

    Tooling up for 3D is the excuse to tool up for digital projection, which is good news for anybody who doesn’t want to have to pay to strike film prints in order to distribute anything.

    • Paul N

      Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. 3D will likely fade away as it has in the past, leaving a lot of digitally-equipped theaters that can receive new content over a secure network connection.

    • Peter

      Film has beautiful and fascinating properties that cannot be reproduced by film. The loss of that alone is something that should be mourned, not applauded.

      If the distribution costs are really being driven down, why do ticket prices continue to increase? Shouldn’t we see some relief. The only people benefitting from these new distribution techniques are the studio executives. They are forcing the theaters to update their projection systems (which will need replacing again in order to handle newer projection methods and specifications) in order to be able to handle current movies. The studios are holding the theaters hostage by limiting what can be shown if demands for projection are not met. In essence, if you don’t put in these systems, we won’t let you show our movies.

      Without the need to make film prints, the studios are saving a lot of money for themselves and driving up hidden theater costs while lining their pockets with greater profits than ever before. It’s a sad thing, really…

      • Chris Sobieniak

        “Film has beautiful and fascinating properties that cannot be reproduced by film. The loss of that alone is something that should be mourned, not applauded.”

        I’m in Peter’s camp about this as well. That was my whole point of seeing movies to begin with. If the whole 3D excuse was to simply force these theaters to upgrade their equipment so that all I’ll ever see is net-seeded videos, congratulations to them, they’ve killed the enjoyment I had as long as I could remember.

    • Ken Cope

      Film is an arbitrary standard of quality that is extremely fugitive. It doesn’t take a lot of screenings for the wear and tear on a standard release print to take its toll, and the artifacts of that standard deterioration start to outweigh the virtues of seeing film properly projected. People fall in love with the artifacts of a medium, and they feel nostalgic for it. 35MM Black and white shot in the old RKO standard aspect ratio can look glorious from a freshly minted print. When it’s been sprocketed, and worn from changeovers, and spliced from random breakage, with running scratches from grit stuck in the aperture, in which the frame jumps and slips around from shrinkage and expansion, and the emulsion flakes, and throw in a pubic hair that nobody knows how to remove except Tex Avery and, well, those artifacts invoke a degree of nostalgia for the era of 1930’s Hollywood like nearly nothing else can either, but at that point, you’re not really watching the movie, you’re watching the experience.

      It was pointed out to me in a cinema class that movie artifacts evoke nostalgia for different people in different ways. 16mm B&W evokes home movies for my generation, for others, grainier color 8mm does it. Home video is probably fairly standard for evoking nostalgia for most people’s home movies, but what kind of digital downsampling and blocky pixel dropouts are going to do that for my kids, who are happy to watch samples of streaming video from youtube on the rare occasions when I can’t pull it up off of laserdisc, DVD or Blu Ray?

      I grew up in movie theaters and drive-ins, and worked as a projectionist for a time, and I’ve done it again a few times recently, and I’m reminded of how fragile and ephemeral and expensive a film print is, and how ancient the technology is to display film in a theater. The projectors are like gigantic industrial era sewing machines ripping up the film at every screening as inexorably as vinyl is gouged by every application of a stylus.

      Right now, when I watch some of the animated films of the nineties, like from Disney and Pixar, I’m watching the hot pixels on Blu Ray on 1080p, or close enough. That’s amazing to me. I can control the audio with my 7.1 better than I can control the guy who drops $150 bucks to bring his screaming infant and too tiny toddlers to watch How to Train Your Dragon in 3D.

      What’s missing in theaters is presentation, and respect for the social experience, the kind you only see at places like the occasional opening at the El Capitan in Hollywood, where there must be a dozen curtains before the movie makes it onto the screen. Long ‘event’ films, like Dr. Zhivago, used to have overture music–an entire blank reel of soundtrack played before the movie started, and most houses had waterfall curtains behind the title curtains. Intermission music would play for 20 minutes–you’d ring a bell and people would come back in from the lobby and dim the house lights, then the curtain lights, start up the waterfall curtain so it’d be opening before the titles curtains, and if you timed it right, the light at the end of the tunnel would chase the curtains the rest of the way open as the curtain lights dimmed. You won’t get any of that back for your 20 bucks per person these days any time soon.

      Now Cameron wants to introduce more temporal resolution. He wants to up the frame rate to 60 or more frames per second. I’ve seen Trumbull’s warehouse demo of Showscan, with its Imax film run at 60fps, and it creeped me out about how much presence it had. I like film to be more dreamy than that. There’s something about 24fps (which is shown @48fps in practice, because the flywheel of the shutter usually blanked the film once when traveling, and once when stationary in the gate, so the light pulse in a theater hits your brain at 48 pulses per second), that makes for a happy dream state. That’s why I turn off all that frame interpolation smoothing stuff on the 1080p screen at home and set about balancing my screen to make it emulate the look of film as closely as I can, because film is merely an arbitrary standard of quality, which is prohibitively expensive to deliver consistently over time using film any more.

      Digital lowers costs for anybody who actually wants to make their own films, and lowers a substantial bar to entry for independents that should be applauded. 3D prices are paying for that transition away from film, and apart from that, I’m a nut for stereopsis. I like it when it’s done well. But hey, in matters of taste there can be no dispute.

      • Funkybat

        I know what you mean about 60FPS. My friend has a TV with 120hz “automotioning” which can interpolate 24 or 30 FPS video into 60FPS. It looks “too real” and unles sit is something like “Cops” or some other videotape-style documentary footage, I can’t stand it. I always ask him to deactivate it when we watch movies. It makes them look like living video games. I haven’t even tried playing 2D animation on his set, I can only imagine the bizarre sensations that would evoke.

        I’m a firm believer in 24FPS, but I will be OK with actual film being phased out of theaters, save for indie/rep house type places. Too often, the color and sharpness are off in traditional projections, not to mention to damage and other artifacts that appear after a few dozen showings. I remember seeing Toy Story 2 in digital in ’99, and aside from some “stairstepping” on the X in Pixar, I didn’t see anything to complain about. Saw the re-release of TS 1 & 2 in 2009, and it too was digital. No “stairstepping” on the Pixar logo this time, it was a fabulous experience. I may not care if it’s a quiet art film, but for major releases, digital projection is my new favorite.

  • The simple answer is – if you don’t like movies in 3D, don’t see them in 3D. Catch them in 2D or wait for them to be available on DVD or on demand.

    I have this mental picture of you guys standing on the sidewalk outside a theater, crying because there wasn’t enough salt on your popcorn. Yeesh… No wonder animators (and animation) get no respect.

    Is RANGO going to be in 3D? I wanna see that.

  • Silence Dogood

    The only 3d movie I have seen is Alice In Wonderland…and to be honest, I would have liked it just as much as a 2d playing.

  • Katzenberg is not talking to the audience. He is talking to investors and needs to justify all the money put in the next 3D releases. And, mainly, he has to keep Dreamworks value in the stock market, based in present-future-value-projection.

  • purin

    Well, if anything’s going to be in 3D, all 3D all the time, I suppose it should be computer animated movies, particularly if they have the quality I saw in How to Train Your Dragon. I’m willing to put up with wearing glasses on top of glasses for a well-made animated movie… at matinee prices.

    But, right or wrong, reasonable or not, talking over an interviewer like that is just rude.

    Why is penetrating the home theater so important? Isn’t stuff like 3D supposed to bring people into the theaters instead of waiting for it to appear on cable?

  • Milo Thatch

    I think studio execs need to keep an eye out for that left-field freight train that will take everyone by surprise. The grunge rock take over that no ’80s metal hair band would have ever predicted gets more and more poised to repeat itself in Hollywood in this current economic depression.

    All these overpriced gimmicks, trickery, and add-ons without substance will eventually leave a gaping hole for some unknown “NEW” idea that actually strips the whole movie theater experience back to its roots. I have no idea what it will be or when it will occur, but if Nirvana could single handedly shut down hundreds of useless glam rockers in 1991, then some equally curious and original filmmaker or theater owner will also one day shock the bloated and self-indulgent Hollywood we currently know.

    I grew up a music nerd, so this makes sense to me! :)

  • Geez u people in the States have it rough! In my sleepy South African coastal town we have no 3D cinemas, and I’m starting to appreciate it! Your prices for a 3D movie ticket are nuts.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Enjoy it while you can Mike. They’ll probably get to you next.

  • Kevan

    Listening to George Lucas on NPR, he said that adjusting for inflation, movie tickets have stayed the same price since the advent of cinema. Around $6.50 nationwide, I believe.

    Kind of debunks the price inflation argument.

    • Funkybat

      Don’t know if that $6.50 figure is supposed to be some kind of nationwide average, but I doubt it because an average is straight down the middle from highest to lowest.

      Go to any major city, and all of the movie theaters charge at least $9.00-$10.00 these days, often $11 or $12. I have heard of $6.00-$8.00 theaters in other areas, bit that would still put the median somewhere around $8-$9 bucks. I remember just a few years ago there were a lot of “dollar theaters” that had second-run films for a buck or two. I haven’t seen any of those in about five years. They may still exist out in the boonies, but I know of none in any major east coast or west coast cities.

      Major movie chains had $6-$8 prices for several years in the 90s. They have actually been stable at around $10-$12 for the past 6-7 years in the SF Bay Area, but I am sure another rise is around the corner, 3D or not. I go out of my way to use coupons, passes, and other gimmicks to drive down my movie theater costs, but I still spend at least $12-$15 for a movie and snacks. I’m much more inclined to wait for Blu Ray at home with my LCD TV. I really think the combination of large high-def screens, streaming movies, and piracy will make movie theaters into an elite or niche experience for people in coming years. I know I’m not planning to go to the movies unless it’s something animated (preferably 2D) or something really exciting to see in a crowd, such as Avatar or the next Batman film.

  • Chris

    3D isn’t a fad… and it has substantially boosted box office revenue. End of story.

    • RODAN


      Give me a break… I’m tired of it already.

      It’s a fad to me! I miss half the movie ducking and dodging behind my seat trying to keep from getting hit by those flying 3D bullets.

      Just give me a good movie with a good well written script.

  • Maya

    I seriously wish the 3D fad would be over already. Since it began Animation films are only brought over here in 3D, and I’m not going to pay extra just to get a headache. Even regular ticket prices are too much, and they only keep increasing. There’s really no justification for it. I mean, there’s around 20 minutes of ads and promos before the movie starts, Shouldn’t that make them cheaper?

  • Steamboat Bill

    Why not return to 2D for god sakes? Are executives like Katzenberg really that scared to return to old school? After all he did helm the Disney renaissance is that says anything he should understand what really makes the money. This marketing ploy has obviously over stayed its welcome and caused more harm than good. It should have been left as a novelty and not progressed from there. Practically every movie over 100 million dollar budget is required to be in 3D even a comedy, drama or something completely irrelevant to what 3D should be.

    Its an unneeded accessory even the mainstream public is starting to catch up on this charade.

  • AaronSch

    In response to a previous post, here is an Economics 101 lesson: It is not “greed” to “offer” your product in as many incarnations as possible giving the public more choices as well as access to technological advancements. Making profit is not an evil endeavor. We’re not talking about sustenance.

    If you are happy with your old VHS copy of “Pinocchio,” then sit and watch your fuzzy picture infused with drop-outs. Nobody is forcing you to stop in the local Best Buy to double or triple dip on that movie.

    As for 3-D, ultimately, the public will determine whether the added cost to a theater ticket is worth the “benefit” of seeing a film in 3-D. Personally, I was a bit skeptical that 3-D would be more than the return of another short-lived fad. However I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed seeing a couple of recent films shot in 3-D and hope they continue improving the technology.

    • Mark

      That argument would hold water if people actually had a choice. But sadly, many cinemas I’ve been to only show certain movies in 3D. There is no 2D option (which I would happily take).

      • Stephen M. Levinson

        Mark since when don’t you have a choice? You’re not being forced to watch a 3D movie. You just decided to watch it because it’s not available in 2D. You could have easily said “Oh it’s not in 2D. Lets go bowling instead.”

      • Mark

        That’s just plain stupid. No, next time I’ll skip the 3D session and download it instead. I’m anti-piracy, but when studios start screwing with their audience, they don’t deserve my money anymore.

  • If you already wear glasses 3D is just anoying.

    Of course most of the top movies would be 3D movies, they cost twice as much. They were also family movies so you have mom, dad, and the kids ($$$$)watching it as opposed to a “date”($$) movie….

  • Scarabim

    I have a Boxee, and it’s just about taken all of the fun of going to the movie theater. I watched “Despicable Me” via Netflix on it over the weekend, and I enjoyed seeing it at home much more than I did at the theater. I’ve also rented “How To Train Your Dragon” and “Princess and the Frog” (not much better on a second viewing, I’m afraid.)via the Boxee. As a result, I haven’t gone to the movies in weeks. Frankly, the only film I’ve heard about that MIGHT get me to leave the house for movie entertainment is the upcoming Pirates 4. Nothing else interests me enough to leave the comfort of my couch and the close proximity of my refrigerator.

    And 3D isn’t enough to lure me out either.

  • Beth

    Katzenberg you were rude when you were at Disney and you still are. 3D is not amazing and Polar Express was an awful movie and 3D for some reason makes me feel sick.

  • “According to Box Office Mojo, less people attended the movies in the US last year than any year since 1995! A fifteen-year low in movie attendance is a pretty good indicator of a backlash if you ask me.”

    This is a ridiculous statement. Looking at those YOY percentage changes, this year was nothing that stands out as an extreme case.

  • Brad Constantine

    I think we should just change it to Gree-D!!

  • Marc Baker

    Maybe if the prices for 3D movies were cut in half, more people would attend the theaters. Plus, there’s not that much of A reason when Hollywood offers you nothing but over hyped junk. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, ‘Twilight’.) Milo Thatch makes A good point about how someone needs to come along, and take down the current business model for cinemas to offer A better, more affordable experience. Maybe have lower prices, 2D option, or maybe even old cartoons before the movie. (I can dream, can’t I?)

  • I don’t hate 3D but I don’t love it either. Most of the time it adds very little to the experience. I’m still pretty skeptic about the supposed “new language” 3D has to offer.

    I’ve to say traditional animation looks pretty cool in 3D. The two films that has impressed me the most in 3D were Teddy Newton’s Day And Night and The Beauty And The Beast, and I’ve already watched the second one a zillion times and I felt kind of sick of it, but somehow I found the 3D conversion was spectacular and kinda contributed to the atmosphere.

    So how about bringing back 2D animation even if it’s in 3D?

    • Funkybat

      Have you seen the entire film of Beauty and the Beast in 3D, or just the segment they had at Comic Con 2009? If the former, I assume you must work for Disney, as it still hasn’t been released in theaters. I’ve heard that a Blu Ray release of it and the Lion King were coming this fall, but I hope there will be at least a limited theatrical release. I have no interest in “upgrading” to a 3D TV. I’m content to save the “glasses experience” for the theater.

  • CW

    Yes! Bring back 2D…
    It’s still here actually.

    3D is a gimmick. Maybe eventually it will be developed into something amazing that does not require glasses and enhances the color, lighting, sound, and movie viewing experience. That is the “least” it should do for $14.75 a ticket!
    As a color designer, 3D makes things look awful. I prefer to pay less to see a better image.
    As a glasses wearer, wearing two pairs of glasses is ridiculous and annoying. I prefer to pay less to see the film using only one pair of glasses.

    If the theaters and studios want to charge so much for 3D films, the experience should be that much better than the 2D experience. I am sure it will one day, but it is not better now.

    The reason people go to theaters despite the price increases, is the same reason people go out in the first place. To be around people out in the world. To see beautiful cinematography and larger than life characters on a large screen. I love to stream movies on Netflix, but it isn’t as much fun as making an event out of seeing a film. Sitting on my couch or in front of my computer is definitely not the same as going to the movies. People will always pay the price.
    The excitement of waiting in long lines to see the first Star Wars movie (I’m dating myself here) can not be replaced by TV or You Tube.

    Until 3D movies are technologically better than films, I will continue to see boring, old fashioned movies with great color.

  • CW

    This came out after Monsters vs. Aliens premiered. It explains the headaches well.

    • Ken Cope

      The article is well researched and factual enough, providing an explanation for problems with 3D when people experience them. But it goes too far, pretty much concluding that 3D movies always have and always will give all of us who watch them headaches, which is unsupported nonsense.

  • del

    Well, I doubt anyone has made it this far down the thread – but if you did you might enjoy this article from Charlie Brooker of The Guardian newspaper


  • Christofferson

    3d movies will stay at the theatres for awihle because they cost more and you can’t pirate them.


    I do not know how any artist creating multiple visuals in a scene would prefer it to be seen in 3D. I have found that the effect is so distracting that I miss so much of the beauty and art of an animated film.

    After seeing Alice in Wonderland, and Disney’s Tangled both in 3D and in conventional format. I found that I had missed so much of the visuals of what was going on in any given scene that I have very little interest in ever seeing another 3D film. For after about the first 20 minutes the WOW-FACTOR wears off and you want to watch and enjoy the film.

    WOW-FACTOR + BOX OFFICE ATTENDANCE= MORE OF THE SAME EFFECTS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER… WHOOOSH Across the screen..over your head…by your head..DUCK! WOW….THAT ONE NEARLY HIT YOU… WATCH OUT….BEFORE YOU KNOW IT… Who needs a good story..when we can get them into the seats without all that…big waste of time. IT’S IN 3D!!! OOOOOH AHHHHH….BIG BUGS are going to pop out of the screen and bite ya!

    Give me a good story and I won’t care about the WOW-FACTOR…Actually kind of tired of it already…KIND OF? WOW!!!

  • I saw Tron in 3D but the only scenes that were really 3D were close-ups of actors and weapons of the final ship’s

  • Katzenberg needs to read-no, understand this: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/01/post_4.html