James Cameron: 3-D Is the Way To Go

Posted on June 30, 2006

Director James Cameron thinks that 3-D can help save movie theaters.
James Cameron, who was showered with Oscars for Titanic and who is directing a science-fiction 3-D film for 20th Century Fox, said that the technology enables cinemas to offer something that home entertainment cannot. "I want to inspire people to come back to cinemas with an experience they can only have there," he said. "Theatre owners, exhibitors and distributors should work to bring a sense of showmanship back to the cinema experience. Cinemagoing won�t go away, but it can get eroded. This is a wake-up call. Are we just going to lie down and let change roll over us, or do something about it?"

The latest 3-D technology boasts an unsurpassed clarity, making audiences feel that they are in the picture. Two reels of film go through the projector and fool the brain into merging them and seeing them in 3-D. Although audiences still have to wear special glasses, advances mean that the eye strain and headaches associated with the green-and-red ones of past decades have been eliminated. Cameron was speaking to The Times yesterday as Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer, has become the first live-action picture to have segments converted into 3-D.

Both the 2-D and 3-D versions are being released next month. Some 20 minutes of the film have been converted to 3-D, with visual cues � a green glasses symbol appears at the bottom of the screen � to indicate when to don the aids. On Wednesday night, 450 delegates at a trade conference in Amsterdam were given a preview. They included Dennis Laws, general and technical manager of the Imax cinema in London, which will screen Superman Returns from July 14.

He said: "You felt you were there as part of the action. There are moments when you want to reach out and touch Superman as he whizzes past." But Cameron called for films to be shot completely in 3-D: "Superman was shot in 2-D, and then they dimensionalised part of it. I�m not a big fan of the dimensionalising process. If you�re making a film now, just shoot it in 3-D � not as an afterthought."
Cameron is right: if movie theaters are to compete with home entertainment systems they're going to have to start offering something consumers can't get at home. We're not sure that 3-D is the answer, though. Recent studies have shown that high prices and rude patrons are the main reasons most people skip the theater and wait to see movies on DVD.
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