It’s not often that going to the cinema makes you feel physically sick, but if you went to see Jason Bourne in China this week, chances are you probably did.
While the movie topped the foreign box office charts over the weekend, racking up nearly fifty seven million dollars across sixty two territories, protesters in China were demanding refunds after the ‘exclusive’ Asian-market 3D version of the film left them frantically grabbing for a sick bag.
By transferring the potent combination of Paul Greengrass’s signature handheld camerawork and fast-paced editing into the 3D format, swathes of Chinese moviegoers were left feeling extremely uncomfortable during the screening. ‘Azoombie’ a user on Weibo a Chinese social media channel summed up the general feeling of the audience members stating that:
- "I really felt sick during the fight scenes when I watched it in 3D...It was like a low-budget movie. I need to watch again in 2D.”
With eighty percent of all of China’s cinemas being equipped with 3D projection technology, Chinese audiences have become accustomed to watching films in this format, much to the delight of the film distributors who are able to charge twice as much than for a 2D screening. However, for films not originally shot in 3D, this can make the transition particularly jarring, as is the case for the latest in the Bourne franchise.
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With the Chinese newspaper Global Times reporting that only eight of Beijing’s one hundred and forty nine cinemas were screening the 2D version of the movie, it’s easy to understand why so many complaints were registered. However, despite all the backlash, Jason Bourne has beaten its previous Bourne franchise Chinese box office records, proving that like rollercoasters and tequila, some people are attracted to the seductive risk of throwing up in public.
In fact, the franchise is so successful in China that only three weeks after it's US opening, Beijing hosted the Chinese Bourne premiere which entertained hundreds of screaming fans and Matt Damon's delightful man-bun. Making over twelve million dollars on its opening day, it's clear that fans don't mind feeling a little sick if it means staying up to date with the latest in the Jason Bourne story.
But could this be part of a larger conspiracy? By giving 3D audiences such a queasy moviegoing experience, it could mean that they’ll return to watch the less vomit-inducing 2D version, giving Universal Pictures an increased profit from making their audience physically sick. However, the dry-cleaning costs alone could ultimately far outweigh any potential gain for the franchise if this were the sickening truth.