Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Disney Still Confused on Their Support for BluRay 3D


So... was "Zootopia" a success on BluRay 3D or wasn't it?  I have been trying to find out because, honestly, knowing the answer to that question could potentially clear up where Disney really stands on releasing future movies on BluRay 3D in America.  Last week I've read different reports on Disney's plans for several of their upcoming movies: "Alice Through the Looking Glass," "The Jungle Book," and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." We'll tackle each release one at a time. 


First up, we have Disney's only real bomb this year, "Alice Through the Looking Glass." "Alice in Wonderland" came out in 2010 and became one of the highest grossing films of all time, and rode the 3D goodwill that had just been established by "Avatar" to great success.  While the sequel was never going to match the first films success, no one was prepared for how bad it would ultimately do, and it was one of the few times where the 3D version was given a noticeable shrug by audiences in the theater.  Because of this, I sort of understand why Disney has announced a BluRay release without a 3D version attached.  However, since "Alice in Wonderland" WAS one of the first movies the studio released in BluRay 3D, it is all the more disappointing that they aren't going all out for it.


Where things get a little more dicey is with their upcoming release of "The Jungle Book." Unlike 'Alice,' this movie WAS a huge hit (it was also a much, MUCH better film all around)!  As with 'Alice,' this movie has been announced for BluRay.  Unlike 'Alice' though, the press release actually goes so far as to say a BluRay 3D is coming later this year.  When later this year?  Probably around Christmastime we'll get an 'Ultimate Edition' which will include it.  That's a guess though, as the statement in the press release was vague and not very helpful.  At least we got some sort of announcement though, so fans can hold off on importing this one.


Finally, let's talk "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." I've saved this one for last partly because this was one is purely speculation, and partly because it's the one movie everyone reading this cares the most about.  Next to "Frozen," the lack of a 3D release of 'The Force Awakens' is one of the biggest sticking points for fans of the format.  Both these movies are (what I like to call) 'big duh' movies.  It's the kind of movie that has so much demand for a 3D release, that if someone actually asked in a board room if one should be made available, a less polite person would give the one asking that question a stupid look and say "well, DUH!" So when we didn't get a BluRay 3D announcement I was left to conclude that either Disney was digging their heals in on not releasing BluRay 3D's just to spite fans, or they were planning something big.  If recent rumors are true, it will be because Disney may have found a way to sell a pile of crap to consumers along with the product they actually want to buy.

In fact, Disney might be planning to sell 'Star Wars' fans three piles of crap just to get 'The Force Awakens' on BluRay 3D.  First, a question: Does anyone here remember those terrible prequel films?  Of course you do.  We ALL do!  Do you remember that they were going to be remastered in 3D and rereleased in theaters?  Well, that was the idea.  George Lucas (remember that guy?) wanted to create another tradition of doing annual rereleases of the 'much loved' prequel trilogy, and he figured one of the best ways to do this would be to upconvert the films in 3D.  "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" did make it into theaters in 3D, but it did so with a shrug.  I was one of the few people who paid money to see the 3D release and I can say that the movie only improved in one scene with the 3D.  I bet all of you know what scene I'm talking about too!

That's right, it was the pod racing scene!

The pod racing scene was very much improved by being in three dimensions.  Otherwise, though, the movie wasn't any better being in 3D than it was when it was in 2D.  There is still that horrible dialog.  There was still all that talk about trade disputes.  Jar Jar Binks is still annoying.  So fans stayed away.  I mean, sure, it made some money, but no where near as much as if Lucas had just done another release of 'The Empire Strikes Back.' When Disney bought Lucasfilm the 3D versions for the other two movies were completed, but Disney decided to shelve them.  They had a new movie to make, they wanted to make 'Star Wars' cool again, and doing a 3D rerelease of the crappy movies that almost killed this franchise was not a direction Disney likely wanted to take.  What does any of this have to do with 'The Force Awakens' you ask?  Well, whether these 3D versions are seen as nessicary anymore or not, the fact of the matter is they were made and they do exist.  If Disney didn't feel like these versions were going to sell tickets they were just as sure they wouldn't sell disks.

Unless, maybe... it was packed with something people did want?  Yes... if that were to be the case, people might actually buy them.  So, if the rumors are true, Disney will be releasing a box set in the near future that will have 'The Force Awakens' in 3D along with the prequel trilogy.  There will be no stand alone release.  If you want the good movie in 3D, you'll have to pay for the movies you don't want in 3D as well.  And - because this is considered a specialty release - the chances of these movies being sold separately somewhere down the road is not guaranteed, so the fans will just have to suck it up.  This is what the geeks will refer to as "the dark side of the force." Because it is true that this is a pretty good way to do this.  Purely from a business perspective, it makes perfect sense.  'Star Wars' fans will buy anything.  Don't act like this isn't true; you know it is.

You also know that, despite this mentality, the prequel movies are so bad most people won't buy them unless forced to.  When the movies were released on BluRay you had to buy all six at once.  Eventually they split them into two trilogies, but guess which trilogy you see more copies of on store shelves consistently?  Fans have been very vocal about wanting 'The Force Awakens' on BluRay 3D, and they want it enough that they may just be willing to spend over $100 (which would include three movies they don't want) just to get it.  I would normally complain about such obvious price gauging, but if 'Star Wars' fans haven't learned their lesson after thirty years of this practice, then maybe they deserve to keep getting screwed.  And really, if these rumors are true, at least they are getting the 3D version.  'Alice' and 'Jungle Book' fans are the ones who are potentially getting the short straws in all this, as they might be forced into doing the import game again.

I mean it, I REALLY would like to know if "Zootopia" was a success on BluRay 3D or not!  I would like to know if that was contributing to the solution or the problem.  I would like to know if a movie has to hit a magical number at the box office before Disney even considers releasing something in BluRay 3D.  Disney is one of the most profitable companies in the world.  They can certainly afford to have a blanket policy where everything gets a 3D release if a version exists.  If they can't justify a separate release, just make one massive combo pack and charge an extra $5 for it.  Trust me, people paid an average of $5 extra for Disney movies when they were releasing them on VHS.  They will certainly do it again for BluRay.  Until they do something, Disney will be on our list of companies to complain about.  It's nice that we're getting a few key releases, but that is nowhere near good enough when their competition is largely just releasing everything and not playing this game at all (that means "Suicide Squad" fans will get to buy a BluRay 3D regardless how disappointing the box office ultimately is in the long run).

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