Why 3D Movies?

There was a time, back in the late 00s (if that’s what you call the time between 2005-2010?) that some movies were also being released in 3D. And for some reason, I chose to watch many of these movies in 3D. It wasn’t until James Cameron’s Avatar was released that we learned what 3D could be. I watched Avatar in theaters at least three times (once in IMAX 3D).

I’m going to break up this post into two distinct periods of 3D:
Pre-Avatar (before December 18th, 2009)
and Post-Avatar (after December 18th, 2009).

Pre-Avatar: Watching 3D movies was great. Back when I was a kid some movies were released in “3D Vision,” which meant wearing some goofy red and blue glasses. Most of these usually featured some type of gag where a character might throw something at the audience (as seen in Muppet Vision 3D at Walt Disney World, multiple times).

In the year 2005, we saw the beginning of the 3D BOOM! In 2005, the number of 3D movie releases wasn’t that crazy, but each year it continued to grow — exponentially. By 2009, most of the big box office releases were converted into 3D — most likely for bigger box office revenue (3D tickets cost a few dollars more). People were watching these movies in 3D because we didn’t know any better.

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Post-Avatar: At the very end of 2009, Avatar was released. The 3D in Avatar was a totally different type of 3D. James Cameron created some new future-Japan cameras that would create an immersive experience (especially in IMAX theaters). Whether the movie Avatar was good or not, it definitely pushed 3D technology forward. (The world is still waiting on that James Cameron Aquaman movie, starring Vinny Chase — #ReleaseTheCameronCut!).

From that point on most studio movies were released in 3D. 3D televisions became a thing in people’s homes — people were sitting on their couch with goofy 3D glasses on while watching TV. 3D versions of Blu-rays were being sold. And of course, every Marvel movie had a 3D option.


For a while I thought, I guess I have to watch everything in 3D now. But at some point it was too much, I made a choice. I had decided to only watch movies in 3D if they were filmed specifically for 3D — not converted to 3D in post-production as an afterthought. I also began thinking this way of IMAX movies, Was it filmed with IMAX cameras? Anything Christopher Nolan is usually filmed with IMAX cameras.

In recent years, I thought 3D movies had mostly gone away — or maybe I had been avoiding them? Then of course, the theaters shut down for most of 2020 and some of 2021 (thanks to the pandemic). The other day when picking out tickets for Black Widow and the return of the MCU to the big screen I noticed they had a 3D showing. We went with IMAX (non-3D), but it was weird that the 3D was in a normal, small theater.

We’re now at a point where it’s not about 3D, it’s about IMAX, DOLBY VISION and DOLBY ATMOS (big sound). However, James Cameron is back in his movie lab creating the next two big Pandoran Adventures, Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. And when these come out, in an even more immersive 3D I feel like the film industry is going to go through another 3D renaissance, but let’s hope that’s not the case.

I feel like a 3D experience is a fun treat when it’s a rare treat. When watching content in 3D becomes a normal occurrence you barely even notice it. That’s what made Muppet Vision 3D at Walt Disney World so special for all of those years (they even have the added 4D parts where they spray you with water, plus the theater gets wrecked throughout the movie). When everything is in 3D then a ride on Star Tours becomes less special.

So, let’s keep 3D movies to special occasions. Christopher Nolan has his IMAX movies and let’s give James Cameron 3D and cool ocean documentaries.

THE DISNEY FORMULA

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This past weekend I visited one of my favorite places on earth, Walt Disney World Resorts & Parks. I didn’t have the pleasure of staying in one of the beautiful Disney Resorts, but we did eat breakfast at the Polynesian, so I did visit one (that’s also how I get free parking, but don’t tell the mouse). I got to do two parks in one day for a total of 14 hours of Disney fun.

I learned a lot on this trip to Disney. I confirmed my fear of the unknown when walking into Stich’s Great Escape I thought, “Why does the thing need to come down over my head? I don’t want to be lifted into the sky. No thank you.” I learned that Star Tours added an all-new chase scene from The Force Awakens, which featured Finn and BB-8 and got me very excited to watch Episode VII – for a third time. I also learned that the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Country Bear Jamboree are still around in the Magic Kingdom, which I don’t think I’ve visited since the 00’s (like before 2010).

We visited both the Country Bear Jamboree and Enchanted Tiki Room and I realized that both of these shows don’t really have a point, or at least that’s what I thought. The truth is both shows do have a point, and they both follow through with that point. In both rooms you’re just here for a concert and they both go according to plan.

The reason why that feels weird is because most shows, rides and experiences in Disney don’t go according to plan. The whole point behind most of these rides, shows and experiences is to trick you, and I will give you three examples of the trickery behind Walt Disney (I’ll try not to ruin anything for people who haven’t been to Disney yet. But if you’re reading this and you haven’t been to Disney, then you probably don’t care or your parents didn’t love you).

Example 1 Muppets 3D

You come into Muppets 3D thinking you are about to see this spectacular show featuring your favorite Muppets, all in a very primitive 3D experience (seriously, I love the show but that old school 3D gives me a headache. Let’s film a new Muppets IMAX 3D. I know you Disney people got plenty money). So once again, you think you’re going to see a 3D spectacular, featuring musical performances and other great stage productions. Instead a weird 3D talking balloon animal gets loose and almost burns the theater you’re in to the ground.

Example 2 Star Tours

On your arrival at Star Tours you believe you’re getting a normal transport through space. Everything instantly goes wrong when C3P0 is stuck behind the wheel of your spacecraft, and an unwanted fugitive is found onboard. The whole thing unfolds into a galactic shootout. And it turns out to be a much different tour through space than you were expecting (maybe Disney should hire me to write reviews for their rides).

Example 3 the Great Movie Ride

Oh wow, look at all these classic movies that I’ve never seen. What’s that? A mob shootout? A bank robbery? A burning building? Where are you going, classical film tour guide? Now we just got hijacked by some wanted criminal on the world’s slowest buggy. Don’t worry though, our tour guide will be back in time to watch the ginger midgets sing and dance.

These three rides/shows are great examples of the Disney formula. Make the audience think they are here for one thing, then throw in a wild card, but don’t worry it always works out. If you think about it most things that are promised to you never actually happen in Disney (but we’re ok with it because what really happens is even better). In Philhar-magic you think you’re going to see Maestro MIckey put on a killer symphony. Instead Donald Duck chases after Mickey’s hat, but you get to hear some of your favorite Disney songs along the way. So, in the end they trick you, but you still get your music.

The Country Bears and Tiki Room both don’t follow this particular Disney formula. The Country Bears is just some bears playing music, but it turns out some of these bears (or all of them) are a wee bit drunk – just look at their drunk eyes. The Tiki Room is just a bunch of birds in the rafters singing songs for you. It’s fun because none of the birds poop on you.

One place I was happy not to visit was the Hall of Presidents. I haven’t been there in over 10 years, and that makes me happy. All I remember from the Hall of Presidents is Abraham Lincoln’s infamous banana noises. (Michael Ian Black taught me about Banana noises – the sounds one makes while eating a banana). Some people happen to make banana noises in between sentences when speaking (ie. Animatronic Abraham Lincoln – I hope the real Abe Lincoln didn’t make banana noises). I’m pretty sure all the presidents make banana noises, and if O’Bama is there his version of banana noises would be just saying “um.”

Disney is still one of my favorite places on earth. Even though they trick you and I’m afraid of most of the rides. I still have an awesome time whenever I go there and I will continue to be a fan of Disney, because they own everything I LOVE (Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, Mickey Mouse & his friends and probably a bunch of stuff I don’t know about yet).