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DID YOU READ

The 3D movie revival (2009-2011)

The 3D movie revival (2009-2011) (photo)

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Slate has an article this morning every 3D fan — or 3D hater — should read. It’s called “Who Killed 3D?” by Daniel Engber, and it accuses four main suspects: greedy theater chains, greedy film studios, shrewd consumers, and hack filmmakers. The entire piece, which includes eye-opening graphs on the decline in revenue generated by 3D movies in recent months, is worth reading, but here is one brief excerpt on the subject of moviegoers’ perception of the format:

“While the early movies in the 3D revival relied on outrageous stunts — pickaxes flying off the screen and all that — recent films have tended to use the technology for atmosphere, rarely breaking out of the stereo window. Restraint carries its own risks, however. In June, A. O. Scott called this ‘one of the pitfalls of that format, which is that if the 3D is unobtrusive enough that you don’t really notice it, you may as well forego the disposable glasses and the surcharge that comes with them.’ The vice- chairman of Paramount summed up the case when he told the Times that consumers are ‘tired of sitting in a theater thinking, ‘Wait is this movie in 3D or not?”
It’s a damned-if-you-do problem: 3D effects are either too blatant or too subtle, a novelty or a trifle.”

I’m not sure that there’s one clear assailant here — in the final analysis, the solution to this mystery may be like a game of “Clue” where someone accidentally shoved both Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum’s cards into the little envelope. There may also be one more suspect that Slate missed, one that combines elements of greedy studios, shrewd consumers, and hack filmmakers: let’s call it “glutting the market.”

The 3D revival began with “Avatar,” which became more than a movie, even more than the all-time highest grossing movie in history. It became an event. People who rarely go to the movies — not just “3D movies,” but movies in general — went to see it. Thanks to its association with the “Avatar” brand, 3D felt special, not just some gimmick dredged up to enliven tired genre formula, but an entire new filmic dimension ready to be explored. For a very brief period, it seemed like 3D was the future. That’s how you were going to see the biggest and most important films from now on.

Of course in “Avatar”‘s wake came many, many 3D movies. Even movies that weren’t shot in 3D were converted to 3D in post-production to cash in. At that point, the quality of 3D films was almost irrelevant; it was quantity that mattered. Some have compared the surcharge on 3D movies to the ticket prices at Broadway shows or sporting events. That’s ludicrous; live theater and sports are once-a-year indulgences (if you’re lucky). Perhaps if there was one 3D movie of the year on par with “Avatar,” people would embrace the idea of a surcharge. But we’ve reached a point this summer where there are sometimes one or two new 3D movies every week. Now there’s nothing inherently special about a 3D movie.

“Avatar” and a few other high-end 3D movies suggested that there could be. But I suspect Slate’s article will soon be proven correct: those in charge of the format sacrificed long-term viability for short-term profits, which is too bad. I remain convinced that there are still interesting artistic opportunities in three dimensions. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg both seem to think so; their upcoming movies “Hugo” and “The Adventures of Tintin” are both in 3D. But even if they explore new dimensional terrain, will anyone notice? As far as most theatergoers are concerned, they’ve already seen enough.

Do you still like going to 3D movies? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…