From time to time, one of our writers here at Cinema Blend reaches into the mail bag and answers a reader question. Last time, we hashed out what options theatergoers have if the room is jam packed when they arrive, and this week, we’re going to tackle an issue related to 3D. If you have a question about movies, whether it be theater etiquette or about one or more completed films, fire off an email to Mack (at) for consideration in future editions of Ask CB.

What do you do when you’re making a plan to go to the movies with a large group of people and everyone can’t agree on whether or not to see the film in 3D?
Larry from Center Grove, Indiana.

Stop me when this sounds familiar. You and your friends are interested in heading to the movies to check out a wide release that just opened. It’s playing at 8 o’clock in 2D and 8:15 in 3D. Your friend Stephanie doesn’t want to go see it in 3D because it gives her a headache. Your buddy Greg really wants to see it in 3D because he heard the effects are great. Mike is on Stephanie’s side because he doesn’t want to pay the extra three dollars, and Rebecca stands with Greg because she always likes seeing things pop out at her face. It’s a frustrating fork in the road, and there’s no possible answer that will make everyone happy.

Contrary to what the movie industry would like you to believe, we haven’t come to a collective decision concerning 3D movies yet. There are some people who gladly fork over the extra three dollars in exchange for a more textured moviegoing experience. There are others who have no interest in paying extra money for something that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual story, and finally, there’s a giant majority that takes whether or not to 3D on a case-by-case basis. In theory, having the option is exactly what we would want, but in practice, it tends to produce a lot of frustrating situations like the one described above.

So, what’s the right thing to do? There are three options.

#1) Compromise and choose to all 3D or all not 3D. This is the most reasonable option on the surface. Obviously, it involves certain members of the group getting their way and other members of the group taking one for the team. Sometimes that’s okay though. Groups of friends tend to go to the theater on at least a semi-regular basis. So, if everyone agrees to 3D on Friday, everyone can agree to not 3D two Fridays from now.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. People who don’t like to 3D tend to act like four-year-olds and throw a hissy fit when they don’t get their way, probably because they’re forced to pay extra money to have a worse time. Since a group of friends is often a somewhat fluid unit with various people subbed in and out, the win-one-lose-one balance will likely never be even either since the numbers will always be different.

#2) Split up and see different showings. Because there’s no talking allowed inside a theater, watching a film is technically not a group experience. It’s just an interaction between the viewer and the movie, but in practice, the movies are a little more fun when you can glance over at your friends following "oh shit" moments, hold your significant other’s hand during key scenes and if you’re the type, split Bunch-A-Crunch between multiple people. Plus, everyone in the entire world likes rehashing movies the second the credits start rolling.

Splitting up isn’t such a bad play if you’re with like eight people and four go to a 3D showing and four go to a 2D showing, but if you’re with four or five people, splitting up really sucks. And so does sitting in the lobby and waiting fifteen minutes for the other crew to get out. That’s an underrated element here too. Who the hell wants to just wait around until the other movie is over, or from the other perspective, who wants to sit in the theater for an extra fifteen minutes getting advertised to? Hard pass.

#3) See A Different Movie. If the group can’t figure out whether or not to 3D, there’s always the option of simply changing to a different movie. Believe it or not, there are films out right now other than The Legend Of Hercules. Some of them only come in two dimensions, in which case, they don’t involve any kind of teamwork decisions other than what time to attend (which is its own giant bag of hassles).

This one might be the simplest, but it’s also easily the most mentally frustrating. We want to see the movies we want to see. None of us want to have to go see our second or third choice because one of our friends has very strong opinions about whether or not it should be seen in 3D.

So, what’s the right call? Personally, I think it’s best to decide based on the specific movie. If you’re going to see Gravity and one or two people want no part of the 3D, tough shit. There are very clear reasons why that movie a) was made in 3D and b) is worth seeing in 3D. That being said, if you’re seeing Thor: The Dark World and there are some holdouts who want no part of it, just see it in 2D. No one is going to have a worse experience at a superhero movie like that if the occasional hammer doesn’t fly off the screen at his or her face. Use common sense. Be willing to compromise, and it’ll all even out in the long run.
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