Talkback: Is Jeffrey Katzenberg Right About 3-D?

jeffreykatzenberg300.jpgSpeaking with The Hollywood Reporter in the wake of Kung Fu Panda 2's disappointing box office performance, DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg had some choice words for those other studios that have dropped the ball on 3-D theatrical releases. "We're not the problem," he said, pointing non-specifically to competing 3-D releases that have turned audiences off the 3-D viewing experience, ruining it for everyone. So, who is?

Every studio who's been forcing 3-D upon their films to turn a profit, apparently. See, moviegoers aren't the only ones complaining about the sub-par 3-D experience; Katzenberg, like his fellow forward-thinking compatriots, still believes in the future of 3-D -- good 3-D.

But poorly executed post-converted 3-D movies -- like, say, everyone's favorite post-conversion punching bag, Clash of the Titans -- have taught audiences the hard way that paying extra for 3-D isn't worth the dim, sub-par picture quality.

"I think 3D is right smack in the middle of its terrible twos. We have disappointed our audience multiple times now, and because of that I think there is genuine distrust -- whereas a year and a half ago, there was genuine excitement, enthusiasm and reward for the first group of 3D films that actually delivered a quality experience. Now that's been seriously undermined."

Not that DreamWorks is doing any undermining. "We have made five films now in 3D and have built this amazing reservoir of knowledge and tools. Nobody else has made five 3D movies back to back. You can see the quality of the experience increasing with every film."

Also, higher ticket prices aren't to blame. If every 3-D movie delivered a worthy viewing experience, Katzenberg says, more people would shell out the extra bucks. Just as you do for fancy iced tea, says Katz! (But would they, really? Does the average moviegoer taking the family to a weekend flick want to pay more for the stereoscopic experience?)

"Quite frankly, there's no industry in the world that doesn't attempt to move up the customer to a premium experience. I don't care whether you make shoes or wine or iced tea or cars, everybody tries to create multiple price points. So why shouldn't we be in the same business of offering our customers a premium experience at a premium price -- as long as we deliver them a premium value? If we cheat them, which is what has happened now too many times, then they'll walk away from it."

Finally: Katzenberg expects Transformers: Dark of the Moon to "exceed expectations," THR reports. Fingers crossed that Michael Bay will strike one for the good guys. The good guys being the purist warriors in the ongoing battle for quality 3-D and huge profits, that is.

In sum, DreamWorks has been doing their part to make 3-D a bona fide movement and not just some gimmicky fad. So when Kung Fu Panda 2 failed to reap the rewards promised by the 3-D dream -- causing a mild panic on Wall Street that may or may not add up -- it wasn't their fault. Critical reviews support this: Kung Fu Panda 2 ran an 84 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes (just shy of the first film's 88 percent) and featured widely praised 3-D animation.

So maybe Katzenberg is right; in the weeks leading up to Kung Fu Panda 2's release, neither Thor nor Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides delivered must-see 3-D. Projection dimness and lazy exhibition has emerged a nationwide issue among theatergoers, further diminishing the moviegoing experience. Having made every effort to produce a stellar 3-D experience, did Kung Fu Panda 2 simply suffer from opening in a period of widespread buyer skepticism -- a summer in which no blockbuster tentpole has proven the added value of watching a film in 3-D?

· Jeffrey Katzenberg on the 'Heartbreaking' Decline of 3D [THR]


  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    3-D is a gimmick and has always been just a gimmick. Was Up or Panda 2 any better because it was in 3-D? Nope. Katzenberg is correct in suggesting (whether he wanted to or not) that 3-D is just a way to make loud, craptastic movies even more of a spectacle, but is just whining that only some (i.e, his and a few select others') are deserving of the treatment. Whatever, Jeff. So-called "event" movies come out every week now, and an added layer of carnival gloss might make for a bigger audience but eventually the folks get tired of paying extra and want to see a new act. A good movie is a good movie, and you can't fool even some of the people all of the time.

  • Josh T Galloway says:

    Katzenberg is spot on. Nobody wants to pay extra for poor quality 3D and it can be off-putting for future viewers. A movie filmed in true 3D can be great viewing. I own a 3D TV and I love watching in the new format, but the movie has to be True 3D. I understand it's not for everyone. I have two young teens and they have little interest in watching 3D at home, especially when its a poor conversion. If the industry can lose the gimmicky attraction and produce a great visual feast like Avatar or Legend Of The Guardians, then maybe more will embrace the format.

  • Boricua in texas says:

    Does the average moviegoer taking the family to a weekend flick want to pay more for the stereoscopic experience?

  • Chasmosaur says:

    I like movies, and I don't think it's worth the extra $3-$5 per ticket for good 3D, let alone the bad 3D. And it's only really good if you're sitting in the middle of the theater. For someone who likes to sit in the back row and the aisle (I have an injury so I need the leg room) and wears glasses it's not always the best viewing.
    I don't think it's particularly magical, and I think it's a gimmick. Normally I see movies in 2D, but when my father visited recently, he wanted to see Thor in 3D. So we did, and sat in the middle of the theater, where the 3D pretty much wasn't a distraction. I enjoyed the movie, but it had nothing to do with the 3D. Many people feel the same.
    I think what bothers me most is that I live in a smaller metropolitan area with few theaters. So now the best screens at the best times are reserved for 3D releases. I find it annoying that I now am relegated to the smaller individual screens with lesser sound and projection because I don't want to fork out for 3D.

  • Morgo says:

    I don't go because the glasses are uncomfortable on top of my other glasses, and apart from avatar 3D hasn't seemed to add anything. I saw clash of the titans and thor in 3D, and maybe a few others. The only reason I'd go is if the screening time suited better than the 2d

  • VinciSmetana says:

    I'll go see Contagion in 3D and then I'm done. No more.