3-D Is Alive and Well

By Tom Houseman

July 30, 2010

It's The Sleep Vikings, the latest Norse rock band to hit #1 on the charts!

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We’ve already talked about this one, but I’ll go into more detail. The Last Airbender currently has a little more than $124 million at the domestic box office. Against a budget of $150 million, that’s not a great number, but I would call it at most a mild disappointment. This isn’t even getting into foreign box-office, where the film hasn’t been fully released yet, and where it would expect to make most of its money. Anybody who's calling it a flop (especially an epic flop) is either stupid or pushing an agenda. Or, as is the case with this article, both. It’s interesting that Mr. Roane references reviews of the film, rather than any statistical analysis, to prove his point. Yes Roger Ebert’s review of The Last Airbender was scathing, but is utterly irrelevant to the success of the film.

Critics saying a movie sucks generally doesn’t keep it from making money. In fact, a movie actually sucking doesn’t keep it from making money. Movies like Transformers, Twilight, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and Transformers (see what I did there?) have all gotten critically roasted but made boatloads of cash. Do you know what Ebert called the best movie of the decade? Synecdoche, New York. Know how much that made? Just over $3 million. (If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do, as it is truly incredible.) Your argument that studios need to make good movies to make money is sweet and naïve, like Bambi trying to walk on ice, but sadly and woefully inaccurate.


If price and quality concerns didn't spell enough trouble for the 3-D movement, Consumer Reports how the brain's attempt to make sense of such 3-D images can cause headaches and eyestrain in people with certain vision problems. That's not exactly what a parent wants to hear while being dragged into yet another 3-D showing of Toy Story 3.

This argument came out of left field, and it’s a fun one. It’s true that parents always do what’s best for their children. That’s why McDonald’s is declaring bankruptcy and Whole Foods is the most successful - wait, that doesn’t sound right. Hmmm…

As Hollywood.com's box-office stats show, despite declining movie consumption this year, studios are still making out like bandits, with high 3-D ticket prices helping to wrangle a 4% hike in running gross receipts… But the revenue increase isn't a ringing endorsement of the technology by consumers.

Oh man, I hate it when that happens! When you start to talk about the actual facts and they completely refute the argument you’ve been making. Bummer. Better go back to that “good movies make money” argument again. That’s a guaranteed winner.

(David Mumpower, The Yoda to my Luke Skywalker, has this to add: “This is the crux of the discussion. Widgets sold is only interesting to a certain extent. At the end of the day, increasing profit is the bottom line. Any time a supplier has the ability to sell the same item for more without jeopardizing the bottom line, it's a serendipitous turn of events. The fact that we're up any at all right now given the lackluster quality of 2010 summer titles is 1) a tribute to Avatar and 2) a remarkable accomplishment for arguably the worst crop of films since Stealth/The Island year, 2005.” I would have rewritten that and taken credit for it but, come on, he uses the word widgets. You just don’t mess with that.)

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