Three F***ing Dee.

Okay if you were hoping to get anything on screenwriting or story structure, come back later.

I’m going to whinge about today’s experience with How To Train Your D-D-Dragon.

(And why I now officially hate 3D)

Let me first say that I adored the movie. And so did my (5yr-old) son Baxter who saw it for the second time. He had seen it in 2D before and loved it. I wanted to see it because some friends and clients had raved about it – and I really wanted to see it for its story.

So really, I couldn’t care less about 2, 3, any D.

Flashed my Writers Guild card in front of the teen taking the orders (you get your tickets at the candy bar these days) but she was not impressed.

“Not valid for special events.”

But I just want to see a movie.

“It’s in 3D, that’s a Special Event.”

Just two tickets for the 2D version, then.

“We don’t play that any longer.”

Deep sigh. My son was getting impatient.

She couldn’t help it. So I bite my tongue and plan on writing a blog article and sinking the share value of Hoyts Cinemas in Australia.

“Do you still want the tickets?”

My son had me in his power for another 5 hours before he would peacefully go to sleep, so I was not going to ruin my life.


“That’s $35.50 plus $2 for the glasses.”

I couldn’t choke on my popcorn because I hadn’t bought any yet. Nor would I any time soon.

Later I realised that if my son had been somewhat older, I would have had to fork out $42 just for tickets & glasses – without extras from the candy bar.

When I go see a movie for work, I usually pay around $10-$11.

And you know what? When I pay triple that, I get kinda critical.

The sound was lousy. It was pretty much all centered somewhere within the screen. (With the invention of 3D, they clearly had to trade in Stereo.)

The 3D had artefacts. Annoying halo-effects around the characters’ heads.

Special Event? My ass.

“Papa, can I have your glasses? These ones hurt.”

My son has just pictured the destiny of 3D as we know it.

I have a good friend who has been working on a live-action 3D movie which he wrote, directs and produces.

I sure hope he’ll make it worth our while (or sells his tickets cheap).

When people pay this sort of money, it may have an impact on the word of mouth…

I forgot to mention:

We were the only two souls in a big mother of a cinema.

Great way of killing an industry: first you create a ‘Special Event’, then you put up the price, you make everything ‘Special’ (hey, I’ve heard that one before: “and when everybody’s special…”), then wait until the cinema bleeds to death.

I enjoyed Avatar in 3D but can’t think of a single other movie that made me feel I got the value for the extra money. Perhaps Toy Story 3 will achieve this again.

Although How To Train My Dragon was surely the best kids movie I’d seen since UP, I would have been perfectly happy with 2D even if 3D were at the same cost. Happier, because I wouldn’t have had the discomfort of the glasses and the ugly artefacts.

DVD, BluRay, Quickflix, Netflix, iTunes … bring it on. (others – many many others – might add BitTorrent to that list)

Because I don’t like to complain in front of my 5yr old, back home we did a focus group and I asked him blankly which version he preferred, 2D or 3D.

(Here’s a 5yr old who knows what is cool. He has 3D colouring books!)

“2D papa.”

Too true.

16 thoughts on “Three F***ing Dee.”

  1. I so totally agree! I’m upset about it too and have been quietly managing the disappointment. Also, if you wear glasses and have an astigmatism like I do, it makes your eyes feel like they’re crossing and straining. Plus I don’t get the hype. Avatar was okay yes, but even that made my eyes hurt and was disappointing to me. We managed to get into a 2D movie of …’Dragon’ and my kids were fine with it, they didn’t care and they said they don’t even like 3D (my youngest is scared of it!) Taking movies to the next level, it seems, means trying to make them like real life, three dimensional, ‘realD, an ‘event’, something I think is a bit of a worry, more of the adrenalin pushing going on here. Hiking up the cost of the movies for families doesn’t make sense either. When my partner and I and our two kids went to a 3D movie together it cost over $80!, needless to say, we don’t do that anymore.

    A movie at the cinemas a few times per year and DVDs, a good home screen, and BluRay the rest.

    Okay enough whinging. I’m off la dee 3D da. A

    • Yep. Like lemmings, those exhibitors.

      We used to go and spend at least some money with them.

      Now we’d rather not go anymore at all.

      Also, I thought the profit margin was with the candy bar. With cheap tickets, I do get my M&Ms; now I don’t.

  2. I’m not sure where you went but at the Hayden Orpheum (A theater which I will never hesitate to praise) I saw no such artefacting or any other disturbance in the 3D. It was, in fact, really beautiful, unlike a lot of the other films out now which were only processed as 3D and not made from day 1 for 3D showing. It might have helped that the theater uses slightly nicer than average 3D glasses which, incidentally, you can keep to save the extra $1 on your next trip. I know, big savings, but every $1 adds up.

    I’m not going to justify the dramatically increased price of a 3D movie, but I think it’s important to remember that it costs theaters about $20,000 – $30,000 USD to convert a theater into a venue for both 2D and 3D showings. So they have to recoup some costs (and here’s hoping the ones showing 3D have actually acquired the proper technology and aren’t faking it, which we really have no way to verify).

    I think it’s also important to remember that this technology is still a pretty new tool for filmmakers. Like technicolor, it will probably be a while before people use 3D purely to enhance the story and not just to make the movie more of a spectacle to attract viewers. Of course, by the time that happens regular movie tickets will costs $20 anyway.

    Next time just go to the Hayden Orpheum.

    • Ah the Orpheum…
      Hoyts’ flagship.
      Unfortunately it doesn’t really make sense for everyone to drive to Cremorne in order to enjoy a decent movie, does it.
      Plus: that cinema has a serious parking problem.

      Frankly, after seeing Avatar in 3 different Hoyts venues, I could only conclude that they had completely dropped the ball on quality and customer service. It was a complete outrage. If you want people to feel like they’re attending a ‘Special Event’, you treat them properly and you make sure they feel a worthy customer. 2 out of those 3 screenings failed miserably.

      And errr… is Technicolor still around? ;)

      • I guess there are benefits to not having a car.

        Customer service and making movies feel more like a special event is important if you want people to pay higher ticket prices, yes. There has been a wonderful renaissance in LA in the past few years, of both old (revamped) and new theaters striving to turn movie-going back into an event. There’s assigned seating so no lines, lounges outside the theater, and some of the larger venues have props, costumes and other such production memorabilia on display in the lobby. I am hoping that this trend continues and crawls it’s way across the world eventually.

        And I was making a historic reference with the technicolor comment. Sorry if I glanced too far back into cinematic history there.

        • “I guess there are benefits to not having a car.”

          Thanks for rubbing it in. ($1,001 repair bill last week)

          My smirking about Technicolor was just a sideways reference to the fate of 3D (as we know it).

  3. it’s a tough one. For me 3D works really well only when it is on a HUGE screen like the IMAX and you are immersed in the footage. That can work if done properly, but 3D on a small screen is naff.

    • Agreed.

      But make no mistake: IMAX is not a guarantee for size. I saw AVATAR on Hoyts’ “Imax” screen at the Sydney Entertainment Quarter. WHAT A JOKE!! That screen was puny!

      The sound, I must admit, was sensational. (Unlike that other Hoyts theater I visited yesterday.)

  4. I agree. I want to see How to Train Your Dragon but haven’t because it is only in 3-D. I have it on my NetFlix queue but I have to wonder how the theaters feel about this. Is theater attendance up with 3-D? I doubt it.

    In my humble opinion, as a business model this is unsustainable. Avatar was the clearest manifestation that we are in an age of, not just blockbuster movies, but mega-blockbusters. Movies can’t just be fantastic experiences that blow your mind. Now, they have to be immersive, life-changing experiences. Sometimes you just want to see a flick. What’s interesting to me is that as Hollywood movies get progressively more or more expensive, independent movies get less and less expensive. Now, special effects that were near impossible in the 80’s can be done at home with a good computer.

    I predict this 3-D push will be the death rattle of the mega-blockbuster. It’s the big studios’ last push to prove how important they are. There will always be Hollywood blockbusters, of course, but I think we are on the verge of a completely new age of cinema.

  5. It’s the price that pisses me off, what a rip off! Then you have to sit through 20 minutes of bloody ads, before the previews even start!

    I thought films would be cheaper because they make so much profit on the popcorn & drinks. I guess not :(

    It won’t take long for that big screen TV to pay itself off …

    Whoever does a decent job integrating big screen TVs with legal Internet films will make out like a bandit :)

  6. I saw How to Train Your Dragon with my 9yo son and I also saw Avatar 3 times. I was very curious to analyse the technical achievements. I’ll preface by saying that I generally dislike 3D. I find it intrusive and distracting. I don’t like wearing the glasses.

    Avatar #1: it was a media preview and we had brand new glasses, lightweight, like cheap sunglasses – the lightest and best I’ve seen. The physical discomfort and distraction was minimal and the effects were wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

    Avatar #2: I was curious to see how the 2D experience compared. I preferred seeing it in 2D, but recommended that everyone see it in 3D to experience the new level of ‘wow’. I think the problem with Avatar in 2D is that the film is designed for 3D and the technical transfer to 2D has downgraded the quality. The visuals are quite flat (no pun intended), meaning murky and dark. I presume this is not deliberate but perhaps a technical and funding issue (there’s only so many zillions of dollars you can throw at a film).

    Avatar #3: I really felt I needed to revisit 3D again, to compare with the 2D experience. This time, it was at another cinema, that had older, clunkier and inferior glasses. I didn’t like them at all. But something strange happened. I’d read about others’ similar dislike of 3D, but in spite of the glasses, I noticed that rather than expecting the 3D effect to be effortless (which it isn’t) – if one is more aware of the technology and makes a conscious effort to meet it half way with some effort, and overlook some of the flaws, it’s actually a very rich and rewarding experience. I don’t think Cameron is there yet, but he’s definitely made a major technological advance.

    But this is not about Avatar. I just wanted to use that example of where how I’ve come around to 3D… sort of. I’m still not sold, and I think that a film has to use it well or not at all. I don’t think Up used it well. It was OK, but nothing special and ultimately I found the story flat, so 3D effects did little to inflate it in my estimation.

    I actually thought that the 3D in How to Train Your Dragon was quite good. Not up to the level of Avatar, of course, but better than the other children’s films I’d see in 3D like Bolt, Up and a few others. My son also has disdain for 3D and prefers 2D, but when I surveyed him after the film (as I often do), he volunteered without prompting or pre-empting that he liked seeing it in 3D and was glad he hadn’t seen it in 2D. He also agreed that other than Avatar, it was the best 3D effects we’d seen yet.


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