Box Office: The numbers were wrong!

The estimates were wrong! DATE NIGHT came in second to holdover CLASH OF THE TITANS although the 3D spectacular is still lagging behind the non-3D flick 300. Yesterday, I wondered whether DATE NIGHT’s performance against CLASH would cause a reevaluation of the value of the three dimensional gimmick. But now with the ship somewhat righted by CLASH’s week 2 victory, Warner Brothers and others may be breathing a sigh of relief.

But just how to use 3D is still in doubt. Especially given HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON’s legs. AVATAR proved that 3D wasn’t really all kids stuff. And even post-production 3D managed to capture huge numbers as Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND has raked in over $300 million domestically and saw one of the weekend’s smallish drops even after weeks in release. Still, the more narrow use of 3D may be years away.

Last week I mentioned that Panasonic is set to sell a 3D capable camcorder with twin lenses that uses the AVCHD consumer format. While the price for the camera is slated at over $20K, it will likely be available to rent for an independent project very soon. Cinematographer Philip Bloom says in his blog that he will be experimenting with the stereoscopic 5dmkII dslr rigs. This seems to be a way of manipulating the depth of field by mounting two dslr’s on the same tripod and shooting simultaneously. I have no way of knowing whether that is the way the 3D effect can be duplicated, but the photos of cameras rigged for that style of shooting got me excited. Can independent filmmakers figure out a way to make 3D work for targeted audiences?

Broad is the word for making money in Hollywood. Last year’s TRANSFORMERS remake was all over the map trying to satisfy everyone all at the same time. And in doing so, I was embarrassed that I took an 8 year old to the film. The next sequel in that series will add the 3D component, I’m sure, in an attempt to capture an ever-wider spectrum of viewers.

But narrow is often where the street cred is. And if an independent filmmaker could figure out how to harness 3D with a story that takes advantage of the medium, 3D would be solidified as more than just kid’s stuff. Let’s face it, right now, as DRAGON is proving, kid films benefit most from the format. AVATAR is the notable exception although certainly the family crowd fueled its amazing box office returns.

Imagine if 3D were an option for the filmmaker making a very small movie. There was a time when the decision was between film or video, then came standard def or high def, now it seems that the debate is whether to rent or buy the Red camera. But the next option may be 3D. And that will depend on figuring out how to make the format cheaper and how to build mature stories that take advantage of it without treating 3D as a gimmick.

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