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3-D Entering New Dimensions

3-D entering new dimension as expectations rise

One year after a 3-D film opened Cannes for the first time ever, Hollywood is in the grip of a revolution that has generated billions of dollars and sent cinema-goers flocking back to theaters. But industry heavyweights and analysts have warned that the 3-D bonanza could be jeopardized if studios sacrifice quality in order to cash in on movie-making's most important technological milestone since color films. -AFP Photo

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NEW YORK – With "Avatar" now out of theaters, the industrywide 3-D juggernaut is itself entering another dimension.

The immense box-office success of James Cameron’s sci-fi epic proved the considerable draw of 3-D, and subsequent 3-D releases benefited from the buzz. But the next wave of 3-D films — though still good bets for continued fortune — may not have it so easy. Moviegoers, warming to technical terms such as “convergence” and “stereospace,” have become more aware of the difference between good 3-D and bad 3-D. Critics have weighed in on its shortcomings. And the general aura of novelty was never going to last forever.
“People are definitely starting to see the difference,” said Jon Chu, director of “Step Up 3-D.”“All these people putting Hollywood in check on why we’re doing 3-D, why we’re raising prices, I think it’s a good thing for the art because it makes sure everyone is using 3-D for the right reasons.” The next 3-D release will be “Shrek Forever After” (May 21), the fourth installment of the animated franchise from DreamWorks. Six 3-D films will arrive this summer, including the animated films “Toy Story 3” (from Pixar) and Universal’s “Despicable Me.”
Two of the top three post-“Avatar” 3-D releases — “Alice in Wonderland” and, especially, “Clash of the Titans” — were disparaged for their poor 3-D. Each was originally shot in 2-D and converted to 3-D in post-production. Taken together, these events don’t constitute a backlash. “Alice” earned $879 million worldwide at the box office. “Clash” took in $427 million. But seemingly sensing a threat to 3-D’s image, Cameron and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg — the two most prominent 3-D proponents — have publicly chastised “Clash of the Titans” and hasty 2-D conversions.
Studios are remaking their entire production pipelines to benefit from the popularity and premium ticket prices of 3-D films — generally about $3 more than regular tickets.Following dwindling DVD revenues and increased competition from home entertainment, Hollywood sees 3-D as the revolution it desperately needs. But the infrastructure isn’t yet fully established. Theaters equipped for 3-D continue to be added, but 3-D televisions and DVD players are in their infancy. “Avatar” may be the biggest box-office success of all time ($2.7 billion worldwide), but for now it’s available only in 2-D on DVD.
Whether the next crop of 3-D movies — from “Shrek” to “Tron Legacy” — will continue to wow audiences will go a long way to determining if the new 3-D is here to stay, or yet another three-dimensional fad.

JAKE COYLE, AP Entertainment Writer