Star Wars is going to be big. Like cachunga big. Like even your grandmother is going online to get tickets big. When it comes to big releases like Star Wars, the studios have had, over the past six years, an ace up their sleeve. Yes, IÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂm talking about IMAX 3D.
Ever since James Cameron adapted ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂPocahontasÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ into a hammy jungle adventure on an alien planet titled Avatar, IMAX 3D has become a staple with major big spectacle releases. Often, these IMAX 3D screenings add on a major chunk of money based on the jump in ticket price.
Typically a standard 2D ticket will go for 11-15 bucks, however, with IMAX and 3D both getting their own separate charges, the price of the ticket can spike up to 24 dollars (the amount I spent on my own Star Wars tickets). ItÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs a coup that has worked time and time again. The Force Awakens broke the previous record holder for IMAX 3D pre-sales eight times over. Eight times the amount of people paying 24 dollars instead of 11.
Most people have become savvy enough to realize that the main drive of this act is for money. For obvious reasons youÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂre making nearly double your profit per ticket sold. But, is the 3D technology deserving to be as poo-pooÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂd as it does?
It is rarely debated on the quality of IMAX. Getting 65mm film stock on a horizontal plane clearly ups the visual quality from both a filmmaking and projecting standpoint. But, its estranged 3D brother often gets flack for its degradation of whatÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs on screen. Why all the hate?
Most link 3D to the cheap gimmicky feel it had in the 1980ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs, and yes even now thanks to Rodriguez and his green-screen land. Often the picture will appear too dark, mostly because the untrained projectionists most theaters have is too oblivious to brighten the bulb, but other times, yes itÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs a shitty post production job.
So, people often feel that the negatives vastly outweigh the positives, however I disagree. Ridley Scott has become one of the biggest users of the RED camera system to utilize their 3D technology. He uses it to quite impressive lengths in Prometheus boasting some of the best visual effects of the modern age of visual effects. The 3D adds a brilliant depth of field giving the planet exploration more of a scope and impact.
Are Avatar and Prometheus filled with many flaws? Absolutely, no question, but also look at ScottÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs most recent work (and his most critically acclaimed in years) ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂThe Martian.ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ The film's sense of isolation as well as space travel are clearly bolstered by RidleyÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs addition of 3D. That depth of field is through the roof in quality and as usual it aids the effects, when the effects are done well.
Animation is another medium that benefits greatly from the 3D tech. It is often difficult for an animator to set scope and higher visual quality when being forced to stay on a 2D plane of composition. But, 3D really opens the doors for them, especially with the computer generated films of Pixar and Dreamworks Pictures. Would you really pout while viewing How to Train Your Dragon 2 in a proper 3D projected theater?
So, am I saying 3D should only be reserved for animation and space adventures? Not at all. 3D should be reserved for the people who have a clear cut intention on using it, and using it properly. As hard as it is to demand of a consumer it is worth doing the research to find out when 3D was a creative choice or a studio forcing it in post production with an incapable director.
WeÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂll see how Force Awakens stacks up compared to the 3D effects of Prometheus, Gravity, and Avatar; but considering all Disney and JJ Abrams have invested in the film it is hard to accept they will half ass the job. Be prepared for yet another reason why 3D doesnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂt suck as much as people say it does!
P.S. TO CLARIFY: when choosing an IMAX 3D theater make sure you are getting it on a legit IMAX screen. For those of us in the NY area, the only legit IMAX screens in town are the AMC Lincoln Square IMAX, Liberty Science Center, and the one in New Roc CityÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ¦buyers beware. To learn more about real IMAX vs fake IMAX check out this great article from Slash Film: http://www.slashfilm.com/qa-imax-theatre-real-imax-liemax/