Over the last couple weeks, television commercials for 'Clash of the Titans' have been airing that are downright stunning. There's just one problem: The pristine 2D version we're catching a glimpse of on TV looks far better than the dark, choppy 3D version we're paying extra cash for in theaters.

Sure, 3D can be fun, if done well, but does every film need to be in 3D? Though, considering the box-office take of 'Clash of the Titans' over this past weekend, it's pretty safe to say that the 3D debate is officially ... well ... it's still officially up in the air.

'Clash of the Titans' grossed $61.4 million at the box office over the weekend, amid mixed reviews and a downright putrid assessment concerning the film's up-converted 3D effects. Over the last couple weeks, television commercials for 'Clash of the Titans' have been airing that are downright stunning. There's just one problem: The pristine 2D version we're catching a glimpse of on TV looks far better than the dark, choppy 3D version we're paying extra cash for in theaters.

Sure, 3D can be fun, if done well, but does every film need to be in 3D? Of course, considering the box-office take of 'Clash of the Titans' this past weekend, it's pretty safe to say that the 3D debate is officially ... well ... it's still officially up in the air.

'Clash of the Titans' grossed $61.4 million over the weekend, amid mixed reviews and a downright putrid assessment concerning the film's up-converted 3D effects.

Yeah, that's right, "up-converted." This is now a term you should probably familiarize yourself with. You see, unlike 'Avatar' -- the most successful film of all time at the box office and a movie that was filmed with 3D cameras -- 'Clash of the Titans' was never meant to be seen in 3D. How did the up-conversion go over with critics and experts? Not well. Not well at all.

Roger Ebert advised in his review, "Explain to kids that the movie was not filmed in 3D and is only being shown in 3D in order to charge you an extra $5 a ticket. I saw it in 2D, and let me tell you, it looked terrific."

Leonard Maltin told us, "All retrofitted movies are not created equal, apparently; I have seen some tests of 2D to 3D conversions that are very impressive. But I was underwhelmed by the look of 'Alice in Wonderland,' and even more so by 'Clash.' Moreover, it isn't playing fair with the audience. A movie that's been designed for 3D and executed specifically with 3D in mind, whether it's 'Coraline' or 'Avatar,' provides a much richer experience."

Moviefone co-founder Russ Leatherman (aka Mr. Moviefone) said he "was one of the very first on the 3D bandwagon, but I'm about to jump off. Because of pure greed, Hollywood studios [and theater chains] are about to kill the golden goose. There's a huge difference between the immersive experience of seeing 'Up' or 'Avatar' in 3D or the lousy, suffocating experience of the retrofitted 'Clash of the Titans.'"

The vitriol towards Clash's 3D didn't seem to help or hurt the final box office. 'Clash' was projected to haul in between $60 million and $70 million; it made $64.1 million over the weekend, right on target.

'Clash' was up-converted (there's that word again) as a direct result of 'Avatar's' box-office dominance. The question is, how long will the 'Avatar' 3D cash-grab last? What will it take for moviegoers to defer back to the superior (as in the case of 'Clash') 2D, while saving a few dollars at the box office?

And we've been here before. 'Alice in Wonderland,' a film that also did quite well at the box office, was, like 'Clash,' up-converted to less-than-stellar reviews. 'Avatar' director James Cameron, who now seems to be the go-to guy when discussing 3D technology, doesn't believe these films should even be considered 3D. "It's never going to be as good as if you shot it in 3D," Cameron said recently, "but think of it as sort of 2.8D." And even 2.8D, as Cameron notes, is only possible if the proper time -- six months to a year -- is spent on the up-conversion.

Until recently, 3D was relatively rare -- in 2007 there were only two major 3D releases ('Beowulf' and 'Meet the Robinsons'). Now, in 2010 alone, there are (give or take) 15 films slated to be released in 3D: Including the up-converted 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' and the first film to use 'Avatar's' groundbreaking technology, 'Resident Evil: Afterlife.'

It would seem 3D is here to stay, unless it isn't. Meaning: The first gigantic 3D failure -- where audiences outright reject a sub-par product -- will certainly make studios think twice about a costly 3D film shoot or up-convert. What industry insiders fear, though, is that a terrible up-convert, which doesn't properly take advantage of the technology available, will unfairly saddle the industry with the perception of an inferior product. Think of someone who only saw the season three episode of 'Lost' where Jack gets a tattoo and then bases his entire opinion of the series on that episode. If that were the case, 'Lost' would have been canceled long ago.

It does appear that for the near-future, audiences will still flock to the theater to see 3D, but that won't last long. Now that's it's becoming commonplace, it's going to take some pretty mind-blowing effects to spark the interest that 'Avatar' did.

Speaking of 'Avatar,' director James Cameron, always a visionary it seems, appears to be temporarily jumping off the 3D bandwagon just as everyone else is jumping on -- announcing that his re-release of 'Avatar' (called 'Avatar: Home') this summer, with 55 minutes of new footage, will not be released in 3D. Cameron told a shocked Berlin audience, "What you'll get in 'Avatar: Home' is more about Pandora's ecology and how it reflects what we risk losing here on Earth. It's deep stuff and people need to dig into it. The 3D distracts from that, as immersive as it is. To that end, we've cut down the war sequences to accommodate the message."

"The 3D distracts from that"! Wise words, it would seem. Though, 3D has yet to distract from the box office -- at least not yet.


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