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For years, 3D advocates like Jeffrey Katzenberg and James Cameron have promised that the technology allows audience to be fully immersed in the movie, to experience everything happening on the screen more intensely, and to really become part of the fantastical movie world. And for years people have paid the extra fee on 3D tickets to get that awesome moviegoing experience, only to find themselves struck with headaches or nausea thanks to the very 3D glasses that were supposed to make things so great.
And according to one recent scientist's study, the complaining audience members are right. As reported by Fox News, a study by L. Mark Carrier at California State University found that people who see movies in 3D as opposed to 2D feel no more engaged in the story, are no more likely to remember what happened or enjoy what they saw-- but are three times more likely to experience eyestrain, headaches, or trouble seeing. Carrier and his team had 400 students watch one of three movies -- How To Train Your Dragon, Alice in Wonderland or Clash of the Titans in either 3D or 2D, then go home and complete an online survey about what they saw. Apparently the only real difference is that the 3D moviegoers felt a lot more ill-- and lighter in the wallet-- than the ones who saw the 2D versions.
Granted, the inclusion of Clash of the Titans in there kind of poisons the well a bit, since that movie was one of the worst uses of post-converted 3D we've seen yet. But this study confirms what moviegoers seem to have been figuring out on their own for years now: the 3D just isn't worth it. The trend all summer-- as seen with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2-- has shown moviegoers choosing 2D tickets instead of 3D whenever possible, and even though movies like Harry Potter or The Smurfs have become even bigger hits thanks to the higher ticket prices, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Fast Five were plenty successful without it. As we pointed out in our winners and losers of 2011, it's clear that 2D movies are still alive and well, and offering a better deal to audiences who want to save cash while avoiding the risk of getting sick at the movies.
With all that said… the 3D in Final Destination 5 is apparently some of the best Eric has seen all year. Clearly the technology isn't going anywhere, and if you're going to see a horror movie in which Death stalks a bunch of kids, it's apparently the way to go. But studies like this seem like just one more step in the long, slow death of the technology that even James Cameron can't save.