If you’ve ever read Brave New World, you may remember the characters in it going to see the “feelies.” Basically, the feelies were movies that engaged all the senses, including the sense of touch. Writing in the early 1930s, author Aldous Huxley was clearly satirizing the role of movies in modern culture, suggesting that we had become far too easily — and constantly — amused.
Fast forward to 2012 and you’ll find the modern equivalent of the feelies: 3D movies. Over the past couple of years, releasing movies in 3D has become all the rage. Fueled by the smashing success of Avatar, with its dazzling visual effects, Hollywood has decided that audiences will pay good money to see objects on a screen jump out at them. Gone are the days of cheap red and blue glasses; today’s 3D movies are digital and slick.
Granted, there have been some films that have actually utilized 3D well, with Avatar coming to mind as perhaps the best recent example. But overall, the 3D fad is nothing more than a gimmick, and I’ve wasted money on several movies that I would have been just as disappointed with had I seen them in 2D.
As if forcing 3D upon films that it doesn’t even belong in wasn’t enough — really, Clash of the Titans was already bad without seeing it in more than two dimensions — the recent trend of rereleasing older movies in 3D is a sign that Hollywood is willing to stoop to even lower depths to make an extra buck.
This year has already seen two films rereleased in 3D — Beauty and the Beast and, most recently, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace — with many more to follow. For instance, moviegoers will be treated to the rerelease of Titanic in 3D on April 6. If you ignore the fact that there is no logical reason why anyone would ever want to make a 3D version of a three hour romantic drama about a ship sinking — not to mention that the film was released 15 years ago and has already taken home a slew of Oscars — then I suppose the decision to rerelease Titanic makes sense.
On the other hand, the whole trend of rereleasing films in 3D makes perfect sense if you realize it’s all about the money. The big studios know people will pay money to watch films they’ve already seen as long as they slap “3D” onto the title. It’s a shameless cash grab and we’re the ones who are encouraging it when we flock to the box office.
Of all the culprits, Disney stands out as the worst. A total of three classic Disney films have been or will be rereleased in 3D in the next year and a half: Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and Little Mermaid. Is there any reason why these films — especially the older ones — need to given a 3D treatment? No. Will Disney make a killing off all the parents who will be forced to drag their children to the theatres and pay over $10 a piece for tickets? You can be sure of it.
When will the rerelease mania stop? At the rate things are going, we’ll probably be seeing Casablanca and Ben-Hur in 3D within the year, with Gone with the Wind soon to follow. And we might as well give the Three Stooges a rerelease while we’re at it — Larry, Curly and Mo really demand to be seen in three dimensions.
3D can be a fun addition to certain films, but not all of them, and certainly not many of the films that have been getting the treatment as of late. When it comes down to it, though, it’s all about the bottom line: 3D movies sell, regardless of whether they’re actually any good.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to see a movie in 3D or even that you shouldn’t see a 3D rerelease if you so desire. What I am saying is that you should think before you buy a ticket to a film that may not be worth the price of admission — something very few moviegoers seem to be doing these days. As consumers, it’s time to stand up to Hollywood and stop shelling out money for the latest marketing gimmick.