The best testament to how bad the 3D conversion for Clash of the Titans is is how many people have either mentioned it to me or have written about it themselves. I'm not talking about a bunch of movie geeks in an echo chamber, either. Just scanning through status updates and texts last weekend told the tale. People who I know never read about movies and who have no idea what the difference is between a film converted to 3D and a film that was actually shot in 3D were complaining about how they had just paid an extra $5 to see a movie that looked, to put it kindly, like a pop-up book. It was the first time I can recall people actively regretting having seen a movie in 3D over 2D.
Now I'm not going to be foolish enough to think Warner Brothers and other studios are listening to these complaints - Clash still set a record for highest opening grosses on Easter weekend (take that, Scary Movie 4!), after all, so as long as WB sees dollar signs they're not going to slow down on their charge to convert all of their major properties to 3D - but I am curious if Clash will be the turning point when audiences start to realize that the Avatar honeymoon is over and that normal 2D may be worth more than bad 3D.
I think we'll soon start to hear even more word of mouth discussing whether or not film Y's 3D is worth the extra premium. It's already begun in the film blogosphere, my favorite example being sci-fi author John Scalzi's "Is Fake 3D the Cheap Colorization of the 21st Century?", but I think once Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the next big victim of WB's gold rush, gets closer to release the conversation will be at its peak. My question is, how involved do you think studios should be in that conversation?
The whole situation reminds me of the debate that kicked up a few years ago over whether or not food manufacturers should be required to distinguish on the label whether or not their food contained Genetically Modified Organisms. The FDA stayed out of the matter, though, so now only those who go out of their way to do extra research are going to have any idea if what they're eating contains GMOs. I highly doubt the MPAA are going to be adding a spot for a "Converted 3D" (AKA "Fake 3D") or "Production 3D" (AKA "Real 3D") label to their trailer bands, but wouldn't it be wonderful if they did? Personally, that information is just as important to me now as whether or not a movie has teens smoking in it.
If an upfront label is too much to ask for, though, how about a simple mention in the credit portion of a film's poster or trailer? I don't care what music label is putting out the soundtrack, but after having seen the travesty that is Clash's 3D conversion, I'd sure like to see "3D conversion by Prime Focus" somewhere. I know that most moviegoers don't have the time (or even the drive) to learn which studios charge $50,000, $100,000 or $150,000 per minute to convert to 3D, but even a cynic like me thinks people would start to pick up on studio names (like Prime Focus, whose Mumbai division did the $100K/minute job on Clash), and would know if the 3D should be taken as a warning or welcome sign.
I don't really care where that information is conveyed, either, just that it is conveyed somewhere and made readily available. I don't want to have to scour Google to find out whether or not a film was designed for 3D by the artists who created it or retrofitted for the medium as the result of an afterthought made by a bunch of suits in a boardroom. It's unfortunate that WB had to use Clash of the Titans as a guinea pig, but I would at least hope that they've learned their lessons, because if they screw up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I have little doubt even casual film fans will start dusting off their pitchforks and looking for matches to light their torches.
I keep reading that the reason Clash's 3D conversion, which used Prime Focus' proprietary View-D platform, was so bad was because it was rushed to completion in 10 weeks; so who knows, maybe the 7 months until Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is more than enough time for them to deliver a satisfactory conversion. I'm still going to be incredibly weary, though. Maybe I'm just being too much of a film geek here. Maybe all those status updates lamenting Clash's 3D were a fluke. Maybe..but I sure hope they weren't.
The mere fact that you're reading this at Cinematical proves you care a little more about movies than most people, so these may be loaded questions for a loaded audience, but am I crazy here? Or would you too like to see studios clarify what kind of 3D they're charging you more for in their advertisements? If so, how would you want them to go about doing so? And last, but certainly not least in my Hogwarts-loving book...are you going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 3D knowing it wasn't filmed that way?