Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Wonder Woman" Returns to IMAX 3D on Friday (And Why That Matters)


One of the best movies of the year is unquestionably "Wonder Woman."  I have no idea if that statement will stand when we head into Oscar season, but as far as summer movies go, this was a true highlight of the year.  It is also one of two reasons IMAX's claim that people "unquestionably prefer 2D movies" is utter bullsh!t.  Both this and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" were HUGE hits in IMAX despite being in that evil, evil format known as 3D!  Likewise, "Despicable Me 3" and "Cars 3" were shown in largely empty IMAX theaters despite being shown in 2D.  "The Mummy" was an outright failure in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D altogether.  No one wanted to see it.  Period.  Same thing with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales" and "Transformers: The Last Knight."  People didn't want to see bad movies.  "Wonder Woman" was a good movie, so people went to see it.

Now, IMAX is bringing it back on Friday for another run.  There is a 2D version available, but the company will screen it in 3D.  This is strange because you'd think their anti-3D stance would suggest that this release wasn't successful.  You'd think that they'd maybe bring it back in 2D.  Or pick another, more successful IMAX 2D experience to fill the void?  "Dunkirk" may have been a great movie, but it wasn't going to sell out showings for more than a month.  And, in fact, IMAX already TRIED to do a 2D movie that was meant to be in 3D!  A week ago "War for the Planet of the Apes" was given a full IMAX release.  This is, I should mention, CLEARLY one of the years best movies (and is likely to make my Top Ten list at the end of the year)!  It was also shot with 3D in mind and released as such.  IMAX, deciding no one wanted to see 3D anymore, screening the movie in 2D only.

From every bit of evidence we have, the experiment was a complete failure.  People didn't show up.  Heck, "I" didn't show up.  I have no interest in seeing the movie on a giant format if the (very good) 3D wasn't included.  I made an exception for "The LEGO Batman Movie," but I wasn't going to do that again.  Now, IMAX is re-releasing "Wonder Woman" in IMAX 3D.  If this re-release does better than "War for the Planet of the Apes" IMAX 2D release did, then that is going to be a VERY strong indicator that completely scrapping 3D movies is no recipe for success.  I would argue that 'Apes' didn't do well in IMAX for the same reason it was only mildly successful everywhere else: It was too smart for most audiences.  I know, I hate to say it, but sometimes when you give people a really good movie, they will ignore it.  Shedding the 3D didn't make people want to see it more.  If "Wonder Woman's" re-release is successful, that will be because people really like it.

Once that is made unquestionably clear, IMAX needs to stop this anti-3D crusade they are on.  People aren't shunning IMAX because they show most of their movies in 3D.  They are shunning it because the ticket prices are expensive.  Because the IMAX versions are coming out too late to care.  Because the screens are becoming smaller.  Because the movies they are showing are loud, CGI-fused monstrosities that are terrible to watch.  Shedding 3D would not have made "Kong: Skull Island" sell any more tickets, nor would it have resulted in less sales of "Beauty & the Beast."  People will see what they are or aren't interested in.  But by shedding the 3D, I can tell you one group of people who will NOT show up: The hardcore IMAX 3D fans who have spent years being loyal to your format! 

That, my friend, is an audience you don't want to piss off.

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