Monday, July 22, 2013

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' (literally) viral marketing

Over the weekend, Fox showed off 3D footage for X-Men: Days Of Futures Past, The Wolverine and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Most of that footage has so far remained in the San Diego Comic Con halls, but Fox did release this sneaky piece of - literally - viral marketing. It's a cute play on the recent Designed By Apple ad, with similarly noodling piano and swooshy animations:

I was a big fan of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and are hoping the team involved knock its sequel (which is technically also a prequel) out of the park. What do you think, are you ready for some damned dirty 3D apes?

Monday, July 15, 2013

How's the 3D in Pacific Rim?


Pacific Rim is Guillermo Del Toro's first film in 5 years. Much ink has already been spilled about his near-misses directing The Hobbit film trilogy and the potential James Cameron / Tom Cruise adaptation of At The Mountains Of Madness. Thwarted project after thwarted project, it seemed Del Toro just couldn't catch a break. Luckily, the big man had a big plan: direct a big film about big robots fighting big monsters. For all Pacific Rim's high-minded intentions, the movie's essentially Del Toro's love letter to the likes of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla; his long-simmering kaiju vs mecha tale. So, how'd he fare? Was his 'boyhood dream' picture better than Peter Jackson's King Kong, or Spielberg's Jurassic Park? More pressingly for 3Defence, is its 3D any good?

Post-Converted 3D:

For a long time, Del Toro voiced a hedged opinion towards adding 3D to his films. In pre-production for his version of The Hobbit he started with a firm "NO" and ended with a potential 'maybe'. Likewise, in Pacific Rim's pre-production, he originally stated "I didn't want to make the movie 3D because when you have things that big… the thing that happens naturally, you’re looking at two buildings lets say at 300 feet [away], if you move there is no parallax." Later in the piece though, we eventually learned the film would be post-converted into 3D by ILM (who composited their own CGI shots) and Stereo D. The latter has been busy this Northern-hemisphere Summer, with Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Jurassic Park 3D and many more titles on the way.

Pacific Rim was lensed by Del Toro regular cinematographer, the Oscar-winning (and similarly-named) Guillermo Navarro. The pair have had a long-standing relationship that has provided audiences with some of cinema's most enduring images. 3Defence is glad to see any work by Navarro on the big screen, and we were interested in seeing his first 3D film, regardless of how it came to get there. In the shooting of Pacific Rim, Navarro reluctantly shot digitally for the first time. He's been a celluloid hold-out, and his departure from 35mm is significant. The pair of Guillermo's shot using Steadicam-rigged 15 RED EPIC cameras, and they took advantage of that camera's colour-saturation to produce the images that Stereo D and ILM later post-converted. Apparently Del Toro then asked for an unusually long post-conversion period, so he could personally supervise the shots and get them looking as great as possible.

Does Pacific Rim's 3D 'pop'?

Frequently. Very early on, a fish swims out in front of the audience. It's one of those moments where kids and young-at-heart adults alike reach out to 'touch' a 3D creation. The effect is Del Toro's open invitation into his futuristic world. This is one of those 3D films you want to bring youngsters to, because they'll appreciate the pure visual magic on offer. Aside from fish, you'll see swords, sparks, dust, ash, snow, rain, fire, steam, tentacles and rockets breaking the 'fifth wall' of the screen. It's a loud-and-proud 3D that is refreshing to see embraced in blockbuster fare.

How's the depth of the 3D?

Kaiju have historically hated bridges
3D at the size of Pacific Rim's kaiju can sometimes leave us feeling like an image is oddly '2D'. To counteract this sensation, Del Toro usually places a dozen human-sized objects around the jaegers: helicopters dwarfed by the structures, a giant hand picking up a fishing trawler, or - more impressively - an oil tanker used as a baseball bat. So the 3D-added 'depth' is a sleight of hand. Just like the man-in-suit monster movies of old, your eye will be aware of a monster's size purely by what is small around it. Still, we've come a long way...

Did it make sense to add 3D to Pacific Rim?

This is where the wheels come off the giant robot-carried wagon. Pacific Rim features a couple of daylight moments in the jaegers, but the vast majority of the fight scenes are either set at night in the rain, or they're set in the Mariana Trench. Readers of 3Defence know the drill, but in case you're a newbie let's spell it out again: 3D (with glasses) usually makes the projected image darker. So, if a 3D film's set largely at night, the darkness gets really dark, and there's a possibility audiences will suffer some eye strain. 

Even in 2D, as a GIF, it's hard to make out what's happening here

Presumably Del Toro set Pacific Rim at night to save money in his effects budget. It's easier to fudge CGI if effects are obscured by noise-elements like rain, and artists can round off dodgy corners by cranking up the shadows. As far as 3D goes, Del Toro achieved a 'brightness compromise' by setting much of the nocturnal action scenes amid the bright neon lights of Hong Kong. He went above and beyond in other areas to add light to the frame too: there's approximately two million shots of holograms in Pacific Rim, and there's a lot of brightly-lit fire, lava, steam and sparks to compensate for the evils of wearing glasses in the cinema.

The film itself

A stunning character-focused flashback
It's a hoot. A good-natured, well-intentioned lark of a film that has moments of subtlety and warmth amongst a whole lot of monster vs robot carnage. It's hard to take seriously, but it's very easy to take as a jolt of big-budget Summer blockbuster fun. As per usual for 2013's tent-pole flicks, the third-act is a nonsensical race to the finish line, without much in the way of surprises or meaningful character development. We only mention it because, like Iron Man 3 and Man Of Steel before it, Pacific Rim gives you a great Act 1 and 2 before clobbering its way to the end credits in Act 3. Hopefully Hollywood will learn from this Summer's successes and mistakes. In the meantime, Pacific Rim is your most sure-fire ticket of fun right now.

If we had to archive one version, should we save the 2D or the 3D?

This is a hard call. Pacific Rim's post-conversion was a great job. Stereo D and ILM exceeded their mandate by a kaiju-sized mile. Their work added visual depth that was thematically appropriate to the film, and added to the experience of watching it. Del Toro wasn't afraid to embrace the hokey aspects of 'fifth wall' breaking 3D either, and that also seemed appropriate given the fantastical nature of the film's visuals. But. Whoever it was in the studio that demanded Pacific Rim be converted into 3D should have been told "sure, if we get a few extra million to change the script to be set at day time." 3Defence can't abide a 3D film this aesthetically noisy (seriously, there's not a frame without sparks or rain) set at night, especially if there are hard-to-comprehend CGI creations running amock. Pacific Rim is a feast for the eyes, and you should see it in 2D, with as few layers as possible between you and Guillermo Del Toro's marvellous creations.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The BBC, In 2D

We don't talk about 3D TV much on this site, because we're technically a site about 3D Film. This week though, serious news broke that might very well have an impact on the future of both the cinematic medium and its televised equivalent. So, we interrupt usual film-based discussion to take a brief look into 3D TV and its - now somewhat perilous - future.

Post-Avatar, it seemed that movie theaters were guaranteed 3D movie-going successes. All eyes (literally) turned towards the home theater industry, to see whether TVs would be able to catch up. In the short-term at least, the holy grail was to get Avatar 3D into living rooms as soon as humanly possible. A deal was struck so that copies of Avatar would be shipped with a particular brand of TV. Other TV manufacturers were stuck hawking Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and a few made-for-Blu efforts.

The thing the TV industry neglected to mention was that you'd only get a couple of 3D glasses with your $3500 telly. And each additional pair of glasses would cost $100. Given that the nuclear-family is usually a home theatre system's target demographic, the limited number of 3D glasses pretty much doomed 3D TV from the outset. Mum and Dad could watch in 3D, while the kids watched blurry outlines. At least, this might be the case until someone eventually forked out for a few extra pairs of glasses on EBay.

The price of 3D glasses on EBay, July 2013

At first, there wasn't much in the way of content for 3D-capable television. Eventually this changed though, and 3D Blu-rays began to be released same day-and-date with their 2D brethren. Prominent 3D Blu-ray content like Prometheus and The Avengers shifted many thousands of units, and broke records for their market share of 'High Def' content vs 'Standard Def' mediums like DVDs offered in the past. If you consume content via Blu-ray, these days it's possible to build a library of a few dozen 3D titles (including a few X-rated titles too...)

Eventually, TV caught up too. ESPN and the BBC began providing programming that had been filmed natively in 3D. Viewers were able to see significant events such as Wimbledon championships, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and even Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message in 3D. ESPN's efforts were particularly noble, in that they offered a dedicated 24/7 3D channel. Sports were the most obvious type of programming to benefit from 3D; flattened 2D images cause issues for home viewers when you're trying to figure out if someone was off-side, or if a goal missed its posts by a few feet. For a time, things looked bright for 3D TV. 2011's Consumer Electronics Show (widely known as 'CES') prominently featured second-generation 3D TVs from major manufacturers, and even demonstrated a possible future of 'glasses-free' 3D. By 2012, there were 55 3D-only channels worldwide.

Just a year later though, 2012's CES big news story was... the absence of 3D TV. Much finger-pointing began. Some blamed the lack of quality content (there was content, but it couldn't stand toe-to-toe with the James Cameron Standard), others blamed glasses-dependent technology, and others blamed... the consumer's unforeseen unwillingness to upgrade their TVs. As the year wore on, it became clear that "3D-capable" was no longer a must-have selling point for a TV, and many manufacturer's marketing departments instead began to tout their TV's Wi-Fi capabilities and built-in web applications. By 2013, perhaps reading the tea leaves of customer desire, the industry considered "3D-capable" to be a mere checklist item; hastily written on the side of boxes, next to "2 HDMI ports" and "Batteries included with remote". 2013's CES featured 4K-quality TVs prominently instead, and paid nary a mention to 3D. 

This week, things really took a turn for the worst. After two years of its 'pilot project', the BBC announced it would wind down its 3D operations until 2016. For the time being, the Queen's next few Yuletide greetings will be back to normal old 2D. The head of the BBC's 3D programming described the viewing experience as "a hassly experience" but also hesitated to "call the whole 3D race." It's hard to say exactly why they've chosen 2016 as a date to revisit the 3D methods of broadcasting, but it's fair to assume that the number of 3D-capable televisions will have grown significantly by then. What will they watch in the meantime? That, it seems, is now down to Hollywood. ESPN is shutting down its 3D operations this year too, citing "low adoption" as their reasons. It all seems a bit chicken-and-the-egg; without an existing customer-base, we'll not get much more 3D TV content... and without any 3D TV content, there's unlikely to be much of a customer-base.

What's the solution then? Potentially, games consoles. The PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One get released this year, and both will sport Blu-ray drives. This is significant, because the previous Xbox iteration was limited to a standard-def disc drive, and this limited the potential for 3D content on it. Months out from the release of either console, both are setting pre-order records, and it seems likely that their successful launches will keep Blu-ray players in the living room for the rest of the decade. This is significant because, for now at least, there's not many other legitimate methods for watching a 3D film. iTunes and Netflix don't support 3D content, but these new games consoles' Blu-ray players will. If enough people can get acclimatised to seeing 3D content in the home, it's possible the likes of ESPN and the BBC will legitimately revise the viewing landscape in 2016. We may yet see the Queen in 3D once more, but we'd best hope that Microsoft and Sony succeed in their console launches this Christmas.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Is The Guardian Correct? Are Superhero Films Done For?

In a week's time, it'll be the first X-Men film's 13th birthday. The movie's critical and commercial success gave Hollywood the excuse it needed to revitalise the comic-book-movie 'genre'. X-Men delivered the industry a template of sorts that has largely remained unchanged in the decade that followed. That template required an ensemble cast, mixing up A-list stars with Academy Award winning actors, character veterans, relative newcomers and a few nerd favourites. X-Men also set a visual-effects precedent that eschewed the overblown Batman And Robin 'look' in favour of more modern effects in the vein of The Matrix. The revised superhero film template also required the X-Men ditch their traditional bright yellow-and-blue tights for... very Matrix-esque black leather costumes. And, just like that, a modern genre was born.

Or, rather, reborn. The superhero 'genre' had merely been laying dormant. In the decades since Richard Donner's Superman, we'd seen various attempts at Batman, Supergirl, Dick Tracy, The Phantom, The Shadow and The Rocketeer. Some of those films had a significant impact on pop-culture, but none rejuvenated an entire industry in the same way as X-Men. Why was that? 3Defence argues that it was X-Men's striking modernity that made it connect with film producers and audiences alike. This superhero film featured women kicking as much butt as their male peers did. It was set in the 'not too distant future', and had a hip bent towards sci-fi conventions that other comic-books had previously neglected. Crucially, X-Men had an interesting subtext; prominently featuring a mutant-superhero allegory for the Gay and Civil Rights movements. For the first time, Hollywood was presenting a superhero film that (successfully...) had something important to say.

Thirteen years later, we've seen 3 actors play Hulk, 2 actors play Superman, one actor play Batman 3 times, a former Hollywood punchline play Iron Man 5 times and we're about to see Hugh Jackman play an X-Men character for the 6th time. We've even seen two variations of Catwoman, and Ryan Reynolds (Blade 3Wolverine: OriginsThe Green Lantern) is days away from the release of his fourth comic-book adaptation! It's easy to feel over-saturated by it all. Of course, this is how it's always felt when you walk into a comic-book store: cross-over titles, mash-ups, alternate universes, one-shots, long-running series, and retrospective collector's editions... the 'comic' world of heroes has never been particularly shy about throwing any old thing against the wall.

Maybe it was that scatter-shot approach that erked The Guardian enough to write a recent piece entitled "Man of Steel: does Hollywood need saving from superheroes?" A fortnight later, The Hollywood Reporter released a piece condemning the genre's bias towards fight-scenes, entitled "Why Has Destruction Become the Default' in Movies?" Kiwi favourite Funerals & Snakes has a great write-up arguing the destruction in the genre has become an arms-race. Tech-focused Wired magazine has just released an article asking, "Is the Superhero Movie Genre as Invulnerable as Its Iconic Characters?" A quick Google search reveals a simmering 'genre malaise' from the media has been around for some time, and will likely be around for much longer. The Wall Street Journal supposed audiences were tiring of the genre in 2011. USA Today asked - amusingly, in retrospect - "Are Superheoes Done For?" in... 2008. So, The Guardian, Wired and THR's recent articles are nothing altogether new, but it's interesting they all use Man Of Steel as a divining rod for the fate of the wider genre.

***Warning! Spoilers within this paragraph about Man Of Steel! If you've not seen the film, then skip this paragraph!*** What is it about Superman's latest film that has convinced the mainstream press of the genre's imminent demise? Perhaps it's their expectations of Superman himself that's the cause of the issue. Historically, he's been considered the Big Blue Boy Scout of superheroes (even if that's not actually been the case in the last 25 years of comics). So, perhaps it was all a bit too shocking for average audiences to watch that Boy Scout break his nemesis' neck, after having levelled several dozen city blocks. Indeed, even many modern comic-book readers were shocked by this moment, and were outraged that Superman allowed citywide catastrophic damage to occur in his mammoth battle with Zod's troops. This was meant to be the most 'super' of heroes, but instead we saw an inactive character who was focused on fighting his adversaries in a retaliatory manner. ***Spoilers over now, continue***

More importantly though, Man Of Steel is a significant departure from the X-Men-issued genre template. The cast is hardly heavy-hitters like those seen in The Dark Knight or Iron Man series; Man Of Steel's veteran actors haven't anchored a film in well over a decade, and most have been involved in straight-to-video fare for years. Man Of Steel's special-effects aren't facsimiles of other industry benchmarks either. Superman embraces his bright blue & red costume too; no hip dark leathers here. And, most importantly, there is a dearth of subtext.

In the days since X-Men, critics have delighted in subtextual readings of superhero films. The Dark Knight series has been remembered as a commentary on the Bush administration's anti-terrorism tactics; Ang Lee's Hulk was a musing on Classical mythologyWatchmen was a cautionary tale about 'checks and balances'; V For Vendetta provided a big-screen adaptation of a comic-book interpolation of Orwell's 1984. Iron Man even spoke to the perils of the arms trade. So... what does Man Of Steel speak to? Being facetious, we could say the subtext is that it's rude to terraform planets that don't belong to you, and also rude to punch people. Being more generous (though still with a healthy helping of snark) it's possible to read Man Of Steel as a cautionary tale in the age of Big Data: keep your secrets to yourself, no matter what, or else the government will screw things up. But, yes, that's being generous. There's actually bugger all subtext going on in Man Of Steel. It's another case of too much plot, and too little story. And, as The Guardian points out, perhaps we're a little tired of relying on a bootstrapped operation to right the ills of government. Maybe the media are onto something, maybe there really is something broken with Hollywood's approach to the genre?

While 3Defence can agree with the media to some extent, we can't see much benefit in pointing out a whole bunch of flaws in currently released films. We don't need Hollywood to immediately stop making any superhero films. There's clearly still an audience for them, and there's a wealth of material to draw from to continue telling interesting stories for decades to come. The media needs to move away from posturing about the 'death of the genre' and instead focus on how to 'reboot the genre' successfully in a more palatable way. To do this, we need to study other successful genre 'reboots'.

Man Of Steel's incarnation of Superman actually has a few parallels with Jason Bourne; a peaceful soul who's unsure of his identity, yet miraculously trained in combat, and ready to fight anyone who threatens him. Of course, that's where the similarities end. Man Of Steel might well mark the end of its genre's era, while The Bourne Identity is rightly regarded as a landmark event that changed the fate of the 'action' and 'spy' genres forever.

In 2002, The Bourne Identity removed wire-work and excessively balletic kung-fu from the action film. Instead of behemoths like Arnold or Sly, the averagely-built Matt Damon carried the main role. The Bourne Identity's set-pieces were staged in cramped European apartments, and cast an indie darling as the hero's love interest. Women in the series had realistic character qualities, independent lives of their men-folk, were placed in powerful positions, and ultimately became the series' moral guardians. More importantly than anything else though, The Bourne Identity and its sequels were action films that weren't afraid to embrace silence. Critics and audiences alike fawned over this breath of fresh air, and the action genre was revitalised enough to buy itself another decade in multiplexes. Single-handedly, the Bourne films also forced drastic revisions to stalwart espionage franchises like James Bond and Mission Impossible.

Not that we're trying to bash on The Guardian or anything (though we do relish taking a snipe at periodicals that hypocritically bash comic books as a "plebeian, populist artform") but in the early 2000s, The Guardian bashed on the Bond and Tom Cruise Impossible outings with all too familiar criticism. The World Is Not Enough "looks so weirdly dated" and "commonplace." MI2 was "devoid of real risk, real sweat or real danger." You can guess how The Guardian's Does Hollywood Need Saving From Superheroes article concludes, right? Yep, "it's the same movie – over and over and over again."

They've got several good points. Just look at the above image, where three superheroes essentially share the same pose. We just wish The Guardian hadn't been such snobs about it. It's not like they're also going to write an article bemoaning the sexism and monotony of the romantic comedy genre. Indeed, every article that's been written about the genre this month has had an air of 'this is kids stuff really, it's a bit beneath us adults.' And perhaps that's why The Bourne Identity is a good touchstone. Like the original X-Men film too, these two genre reboots were fearless in the way they embraced their particular genre's roots, whilst still subverting their genre-audience's expectations. People were sold a spy film with The Bourne Identity, but they also got Matt Damon having meaningful dialogue with Franke Potente (don't get us started on the 'relationship' between the era's James Bond and Dr. Christmas Jones). X-Men may have been marketed with its special-effects, but audiences were really given a film about the differing human rights concerns of adolescents and the generations that controlled their fates. Maybe the world was hoping Man Of Steel would provide a reboot in the same vein as these films, and the media has seized on the opportunity to bash it for being a merely serviceable evolution of a genre that's outstayed its welcome.

So what's stopping Hollywood from pulling a Bourne-styled rabbit from their hat? There's a few things working against them. For one thing, the vast majority of upcoming superhero films are coming from Marvel directly. They're not just licensing their comic-book content to another studio; they're becoming a fully-functioning studio themselves, in charge of their own film adaptations now. This is dangerous, because many (not all) of these comics have historically been aimed at men, and rarely feature self-contained narratives. If the studio churning out this product is left to its own devices, then it seems likely it will continue creating sprawling plots that take several films to resolve themselves, and attempt gender parity via a few scenes of a woman kicking or punching a male character.

Taken from here

The more significant thing holding Hollywood back is the financial imperative to not change anything. Films like The Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man 3 see overseas markets double their US-based box office grosses now. This means that superhero films regularly make 2/3rds of their money in countries that might not necessarily have grown up reading the comics the films are based on, and definitely haven't grown up with Western humour or the mythologies the genre has traditionally embraced. By necessity, blockbusters on this global scale have to play broadly, and there's not much room allowed for genre subversion, societally contextual humour, political dissidence or familial unrest. When you factor 3D into the mix... things change even more. This article's already sprawling, and we're aware we've not discussed 3D at all yet, despite this being a site devoted to 3D cinema. Let's not mince our words: 3D grosses are slowly declining in the US and some (not all) of the Western world, but 3D business is still doing gangbuster business in places like China, Brazil and Russia. Indeed, 3Defence's incoming traffic sky-rockets weekly as people from these countries ask Google (and Baidu) "should I see X superhero movie in 2d or 3d?"

If you removed 3D box office 'extra' takings from the equation, then the distribution of box-office grosses would balance more favourably again towards countries like the US, UK and Australia. Two prominent 2D superhero films, Iron Man 2 and The Dark Knight actually earned more in the US than they did worldwide. So it's no mistake that the 3D Iron Man 3 doubled the gross of its predecessor. Doubled. As long as 3D has that kind of a result, Hollywood will continue paying the estimated $10 - $20 million extra it costs to add 3D to a film. And when it makes that sort of an additional investment, Hollywood expects its money back, and will advocate for playing broadly to guarantee that happens. When you go broad, you miss out on subtleties of the kind offered by Matt Damon's Bourne character, and you certainly miss out on a subtext about the rights of homosexuals in our modern society like X-Men offered.

We're not saying that 3D is the entire problem with the superhero genre, but it's one part of the problem. If you look at the types of genres that are still being made in 2D - such as comedies, detective films, dramas, thrillers - then you also start to see that these films are the ones that cost such a small amount that they're allowed to be edgy or outside of the mainstream four-quadrant blockbuster formats. A 2D $25 million film like Anchorman costs roughly 1/10th of the budget for the 3D $225 million Man Of Steel, and the lower-budget film has a lot to say about society's casual sexism while the big-budget film has basic thoughts on the evils of... terraforming.

When you start to truly look at the problems Hollywood faces, it becomes clear there is a solution, and it's right in front of their noses. Create superhero films that embrace actual genres. Get rid of the X-Men template, which has now been distilled to a meaningless 'superheroes for superheroes sake'. Instead, look to existing titles like Powers; a detective story that features a buddy-cop pairing of a talkative but capable young woman and a brooding hulk of a world-weary man. With the successful release of the (again, 2D) film The Heat, we know there's an audience for women in the buddy-cop / detective genres. And the great thing about Powers is that, because the pair usually investigate the deaths or crimes of superheroes after-the-fact, there's little need for flashy special effects or whizz-bang 3D gimmickry. You could make a taut film adaptation of Powers for $45 million, and critics would praise the way you'd dealt with the collateral damage and psychological impact recklessly wrought by caped crusaders.

Of course, there are dozens of other titles that are just as deserving of the big-screen treatment as Powers. Batman Begins could have been made for half its budget if they'd adhered more closely to the detective-thriller Batman: Year One comic. That might have allowed more room to talk about our society's attitude to criminals, beyond Machiavellian chemical-warfare schemes. There are decades worth of Iron Man comics that realistically deal with alcoholism, as real a worldwide issue as any, but we'd be surprised if Disney/Marvel ever sanctioned a low-budget rehab drama featuring ol' Shellhead (though watching Robert Downey Jnr. tackle that would be particularly interesting!).

So, yes, you're reading this right. 3Defence is advocating more 2D superhero films, for at least as long as it's cost-prohibitive to make a 3D version of a movie. But then, we're cinema advocates here, not just 3D ones. A 'holy grail' situation is obviously a time when movie production and distribution costs are lowered significantly, and producers can begin releasing more 3D dramas, 3D comedies and 3D crime films. When that happens it's likely that Hollywood will finally wise-up and start inserting their A-list superheroes into these genres. When The Bourne Identity equivalent of a superhero film comes along, it's going to change everything overnight... just like the bite of a radioactive spider or a sudden burst of gamma rays. Next time you catch your favourite publication ranting about the low-brow nature of a populist form of entertainment, ask them how they suggest improving things. They have great power, and they should start taking that responsibility seriously.

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Wizard Of Oz IMAX 3D trailer

In September, for better or worse, we get our second 3D trip to Oz for the year. Warner Brothers and IMAX have teamed up to re-release The Wizard of Oz in post-converted 3D for a limited one week release. It's hard to know how big an audience there is for this type of retrospective; Jurassic Park and Titanic 3D re-releases have been doing fine business at the box-office, but no-one's attempted a post-conversion job on a classic this old. In fact, most kids' grandparents weren't even born when Wizard Of Oz was originally released, so if there's a nostalgia ticket to be sold then it's likely on the basis of a VHS copy or TV re-runs! For many, it will be the first time they've seen Dorothy's ruby slippers on the big screen. Check out the trailer for an insight into how Warners are pitching their marketing:

With its school-choir revision of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, it would appear Warner Brothers are borrowing a play from the The Social Network's marketing play-book. It's no mistake that they've done this. Both trailers capitalise on a 'global' feeling of connection to the material, and they work hard to captivate as many generations as they can. Whatever your original connections are to the source material though, it's hard to avoid the feeling this trailer was whipped together on-the-cheap, with trite fonts in front of stock footage backgrounds feeling all a little 'straight to video'.

Of course, the impact of this trailer is dramatically reduced in 2D. It's easy to imagine that this footage pops off the screen in an IMAX theatre. The trailer labours how expansive the film's backgrounds feel (most were achieved with the help of some stunning matte paintings) and how vivid the Technicolor is. If the 3D post-conversion has been handled tastefully, we think the Wizard Of Oz re-release could look better than some of the other 3D product being shifted around multiplexes this year. What do you think? Are you tired of these re-releases, or do you relish the opportunity to see a beloved classic on the big screen again?