Recently I’ve noticed a lot of my friends complaining about 3D movies. Complaints I’ve heard mostly center around the idea that 3D movies often have lame, superficial plots and focus overly much on coming up with ways to have flight sequences or stuff that jumps out at you. Two common questions I hear are ‘why do they keep making them?’ and ‘why do people go see these things anyway?’
The first question is pretty simple – we have 3D movies because they sell. Filmmakers can charge more, and people really want to see them. The article “How 3D Movies Are Saving Box Office Sales” provides some statistics on this – between 2008 and 2009 ticket sales for 3D movies went from $240 million to $1.14 billion.
In addition to the boom in sales, there is a lot of evidence to suggest people are going out to fewer movies than they used to. According to The Numbers – Movie Market Summary 1995 to 2010, movie ticket sales are declining. Films distributed in theaters dropped by 12% last year. So we have 3D movies because they bring people back to the theater.
The second question, ‘why do people go see 3D films,’ is a little more complicated. I believe it is because 3D films are an experience you can’t yet have anywhere besides a big movie theater. There is a common belief that people prefer movies in big theaters but I don’t think this is true. A lot of people, if given a choice, would rather pay a few dollars for a movie, then show it on a big screen tv in the comfort of their own homes for their friends and family. Once 3D becomes an affordable technology that people can watch at home, I think movie ticket sales will decline again.
Then I guess they will have to invent 4D films.
As for lame plots – I don’t think 3D films are a stand out there. There are lots of movies with lame plots and lots of movies with good plots, with or without 3D. We have movies with so-called lame plots because people keep paying to see them. If you want movies with “lame plots” to go away, quit paying to watch them!