The New York Times is reporting this week on a new wave of 3-D movies that Hollywood thinks will forever change the future of cinema. Christopher and Scott brought you stories about the 3-D "Tintin" trilogy that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are planning. A U2 concert film called U2 3D premiered footage at Cannes this weekend (I love U2, but I find that thing where Bono shoves his face into the camera obnoxious without 3-D technology). And James Cameron, who made the 2003 3-D IMAX documentary Ghosts of the Abyss, is shooting the highly-anticipated Avatar in 3-D using both computer animation and motion-capture technology. Avatar's producer, Jon Landau says: "This is a different experience; it's much more voyeuristic. The screen has always been an emotional barrier for audiences. Good 3-D makes the screen go away. It disappears, and you're looking at a window into a world."
3-D technology was fairly big in the 1950's, but aside from a few sad attempts to revive it (Jaws 3-D, anyone?), it never really hit the mainstream. Recent movies like Monster House, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Spy Kids 3-D have attempted to make that happen, and we're about to see a whole lot more. Robert Zemeckis' upcoming adaptation of Beowulf will be screened in 3-D wherever possible. Trouble is, it's not possible in that many places. Digital projection is only in roughly 2,300 of the 37,000 theaters in America, and 3-D projection is only in 700. Theater owners have been hesitant to install the projectors, because it is unclear whether moviegoers will pay extra to see a 3-D film. Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, thinks that they will, saying "I believe that this is the single greatest opportunity for the moviegoing experience since the advent of color. It has been more than 60 years since there has been a significant enhancement or innovation to the moviegoing experience." Katzenberg predicts that starting in 2009, "a significant percentage of the big mainstream films will be made and exhibited in this format."