Does This Graph Prove That 3D Movies Are Over?

By Katey Rich 2013-09-06 12:28:46discussion comments
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Based on the continued popularity of our To 3D or not to 3D series, you're still being faced with many opportunities to pay extra and see a film in an extra dimension. But is Hollywood's latest effort to wring more money out of you finally in decline? Check out this graph posted to Reddit for a pretty compelling argument that it is:



A commenter on Reddit posted another, much wider-ranging and fascinating chart that shows how 3D movies tend to arrive in waves; the chart, which you can see below and click here to see much bigger, doesn't cover what looks like a current decline, but it's not hard to guess that the flow will start constricting again before too long:



If you dig back through our To 3D or not to 3D archive, it's remarkable to notice how very different the 3D landscape is from 2011, when it wasn't just giant blockbusters and animated films like Puss in Boots and The Adventures of Tintin getting released in 3D, but completely random titles like Paul W.S. Anderson's Three Musketeers or Hoodwinked Too. This year has had its share of movies converted into 3D for the sake of a few extra bucks-- hello R.I.P.D. and the Jurassic Park re-release-- but the consensus seems to have settled around only the very biggest titles as worthy of the 3D treatment. That trend will largely continue for the rest of the year, which has a handful of random 3D offerings like dance movie Battle of the Year and Metallica Through The Never, but for the most part will only offer you 3D glasses along with the very biggest movies.

If you see 3D as a fad, this bell curve trend makes perfect sense. For a while the novelty of digital 3D could get people to see movies they'd ignore otherwise (I maintain Journey to the Center of the Earth was impressive for its time), then Avatar came along and was so insanely successful you would be an idiot not to mimic the 3D success. Then every other big movie was released in 3D, and more often than not, the added dimension was just clutter in the way of a movie that would have been perfectly good for a few bucks cheaper and in 2D. At one point Superman sold itself with the promise that it would make you believe a man could fly. Now a movie's effects are unimpressive even when destroying an entire city. Everything gets old eventually.

Despite the obvious decline that this bar graph shows, don't expect 3D to go anywhere anytime soon-- on big movies like The Avengers or most animated films, the extra 3D charge isn't enough to keep audiences away, and the extra cost to the studios pays for itself in inflated box office. But when the next trend emerges-- and it will, eventually-- the latest wave of 3D will start petering out. Just like all you haters predicted it would since the Avatar days. Just be prepared for it to surface all over again in 20 years as if it were something new.
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