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Two 3D Films Nominated at the 96th Annual Academy Awards

 


Though the list is getting shorter by the year, two 3D movies did manage to get Oscar Nominations at the 96th Annual Academy Awards. The first is "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3," directed by James Gunn. This movie was nominated for Best Visual Effects. Needless to say, seeing that the film was shot in 3D, it's safe to say the 3D visuals were integral to the film getting a nomination here. The other film was Pixar's "Elemental," which got a nomination for Best Animated Feature. One of the producers said he preferred audiences to watch this movie in 3D, and as someone who has regularly criticized Pixar's 3D output, I will say this is one of the best 3D movies they have produced.

The winners will be announced on March 10, 2024.

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Is 2024 The Year 3D Makes a Comeback?

 


Happy New Year everyone!

Alright, I'm a bit late saying that. It's also been...several months since I updated. Looks like life got away from me again. I apologize for that. That does not mean my love for 3D has diminished, only that there is not much to speak of in the world of 3D. However, that may be about to change. In a few months, Apple will be unveiling their newest toy to the world: The Apple Vision Pro. For those who are unaware of what it is, well...it's Apple's answer to the Metaverse. Will it be successful? Hard to say. While very few Apple products have failed these past couple of decades, they are still wading into an industry that is being created before our very eyes (one that the public may not exactly be on board to partake in).

Unlike Meta's foray into the business with the Oculus Rift, Apple has been selling the concept of the device as an entertainment device rather than a virtual reality simulator. Not only was Disney+ one of the first things announced for the device, but Apple announced that over 150 movies would be available in 3D for Apple Vision Pro users! Now, this isn't something that everyone is going to get; at $3,499, it is unlikely you will find this item in the homes of anyone but the most hardcore techies (the average person is likely to spend this money on a trip to Disneyland).

So, in many ways, this 3D delivery device is still going to be a niche product. Yet niche products can lead the way to resurgences. What happens if the audience for this device really warms to 3D movies? Would it be difficult for Apple to issue a firmware update and soon Apple TV devices can display 3D (I genuinely have no idea if this is a possibility, but let's pretend for a moment it is)? What if the 3D option becomes popular enough that at least one TV manufacturer decides to reincorporate 3D displays in their sets to appeal to that Apple crowd? "Avatar: The Way of Water" was recently a massive hit in 3D, showing that when done properly audiences will accept it.

While 3D was always a struggle for streaming, the technology has improved to the point where we are now streaming 4K (3D, for the record, takes less bandwidth to stream than 4K does). If Apple can activate 3D streaming for their Apple Vision Pro customers, what's to say they can't do so for their TV consumers? Heck, VUDU has stubbornly refused to stop selling 3D movies (thank God), so they may be ahead of the game as it is. Then there are the glasses-free 3D TVs. Look...they aren't perfect. Personally, if this is the direction they're going, I hope they wait several more years until the technology is seamless. We don't need what happened with the first glasses support 3D TVs to happen again.

Here's the bottom line: Big things come from small beginnings. While we already had a 3D boom, if Apple makes the format popular again who knows what will happen? We've already had a few hit 3D movies recently. That's one small step. Having a new home device to watch these movies is the next. If Apple automatically gives available 3D upgrades to people who own their movies digitally (like they did with 4K), that will be another small step. Take enough small steps and you're eventually walking. Where are we walking to? Who knows, but let us find out together!

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Where Does 3D Stand in a Post-Avatar World?

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"Avatar: The Way of Water" has finally been dethroned from the box office by not just M. Night Shyamalan's "Knock at the Cabin" but by surprise hit "80 for Brady," landing number 3 at the box office. As of this writing, the film is the third highest-grossing film of all time. What's more, if 3D fans want to revisit the film in 3D they still have plenty of screens to go to. It seems weird that this blog was quiet during all this "Avatar: The Way of Water" stuff (I also forgot to do my yearly 3D nominations list, so that will have to be done later), but I decided that this holiday season I needed to spend time for myself and my family, and so this blog got put on the sidelines (and on an additional note, I wrote this article a few weeks ago and am doing a second draft now so...life).

Now that the dust has settled, has "Avatar: The Way of Water" moved the 3D needle very much? What are some of the important stats that it hit and can 3D make a comeback as a result? Here are some of the highlights:

  • Roughly 67% of "Avatar: The Way of Water" tickets sold during the first weekend were for 3D and premium screens.
  • For the first three weeks no premium screens showed the movie in 2D (and few switched to 2D after those three weeks were up).
  • Five weeks into the movies run regular RealD 3D screenings were readily available.
  • Custom-made 3D trailers for future Marvel and Pixar movies were prepared in anticipation of the success of "Avatar: The Way of Water," planting seeds in the minds of moviegoers that there is more than one worthwhile 3D experience coming to theaters.
  • Despite most of the 3D screens going to "Avatar: The Way of Water," "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" got some 3D love at the box office, with roughly 17% of the first two weeks' ticket sales going to 3D showings (up by the average 9%-12%).
These are all notable wins for the 3D format. Does this mean 3D is back in a big way? Not exactly, but it's a start. Notably, Disney was able to capitalize on the renewed interest in the format in a couple of big ways. As mentioned before, previews for "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantimanium" stressed that the preferred way to view the movie was in 3D (even the 2D commercials had characters literally jumping over the black bars). For that matter, they are pushing the 3D screenings in some of their social media advertising:


This means Disney is hoping to try and condition people to select the more expensive 3D tickets going forward. What's more, a 4K re-release of Cameron's own "Titanic" provided a good haul for the studio, showing that people were still willing to see 3D movies IF the 3D experience was worth paying for! With all these movies doing better in 3D, we're starting to see more 3D screenings being given to upcoming films like "The Super Mario Brothers Movie" and "Elementals!" The commercials are starting to advertise the 3D format once again. While there is no news on new 3D TV's being released, we do know that "Avatar: The Way of Water" and "Titanic" WILL be getting 4K releases this year (and The Digital Bits editor Bill Hunt has reason to believe we'll have 3D options available)!

While it is still wishful thinking at the moment, there is still a part of me that believes some TV manufacturer will have to have a new 4K 3D TV in the pipeline to please all of the new 'Avatar' fans who want to watch one of the latest highest grossing films of all time as close to the theatrical release as possible. Right now, I'll consider it a win that "Avatar: The Way of Water" has re-opened the door to audiences being receptive to 3D movies once again. Hopefully Hollywood won't blow it again with terrible post-conversion jobs.

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James Cameron Doesn't Want 3D TV's to Come Back

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James Cameron is having a busy year. Not only will "Avatar" be re-released in a week in IMAX 3D (in 48 FPS no less), but in December the long-awaited sequel - "Avatar: The Way of Water" - will finally be released in theaters (where I personally predict it will be a MAJOR hit)! As such, he's making the press rounds to promote his new projects. While he was doing the rounds, he was asked about 3D TVs and why they failed. He answered:

I know why all that failed because there was — what they did was they jumped into 3D trying to cash in the boom at theaters and treat it as a feature," he explained. "So, they did 3D, but they did it with glasses that needed to be recharged and all that. Whereas just over the horizon was glasses-free, large flat screen TVs which actually look pretty good. ... Not everybody is a film geek like I am where you sit down you put the glasses on by yourself and you just watch a whole movie, which is more what the theatrical experience is. So, it kind of got out of step.

What's more, Cameron revealed a surprising opinion on whether or not he wants 3D TVs to return to the living rooms.

I think it could, but I can't say because the home viewing experience is fundamentally different than the theatrical experience. I'm perfectly happy if the only place you can really get it is in a movie theater because it speaks to that specialness of the cinematic experience, which is obviously what the Avatar re-release is in the first place.

He then continued to talk about how annoyed he is that kids will binge four- or five-hour long TV episodes in a row but not watch a three-hour movie...but honestly, we're not going to get into that one. We're also going to gloss over his opinions on why he thinks 3D TV failed. While I agree that the types of glasses and quality of screens played a big role in the demise, that is a loaded question that we have delved into multiple times on this site (and will continue to do so in the future).

What stood out to me (and what may stand out to you) is that Cameron is ok with 3D not coming back to the living room. He likes the idea that the best way to experience his movies is on a big screen. While I'm certain the knee-jerk reaction is to rail against him, keep in mind that this is not a new way of thinking for filmmakers. Back in the day, many filmmakers railed against the idea of their movies playing on television (an airing of the Best Picture-winner "Bridge on the River Kwai" was deemed 'Black Friday' by many in Hollywood back in the day). For that matter, while we may be enjoying the 40th-anniversary IMAX re-release of "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," if Steven Spielberg had his way seeing the movie in theaters would be the only way to watch the film.

Yep, at one point Spielberg refused to allow 'E.T.' to be released on the newly successful VHS format, and he only wanted it to be seen in theaters. Eventually, he came off this source and 'E.T.' would go on to become one of the best-selling VHS tapes of all time, but it goes to show that filmmakers will ALWAYS want their films seen in theaters rather than at home! Will Cameron get his wish? I have no idea. There has been no movement on bringing 3D TVs back into the living rooms, so for the time being this may very well happen. I still believe that once "Avatar: The Way of Water" becomes the huge success I believe it will be, some TV manufacturers will gladly make a deal with him to make a great 3D TV so long as they have exclusive rights to the movie on their set (kind of like what happened with the original "Avatar").

Because money talks and money walks, and if there is money to be made in 3D someone will jump on it. It will help that there is more 3D content available now than twelve years ago. What's more, it would actually take less bandwidth to stream a 3D film than it does a 4K film, so if a TV manufacturer did make a TV there would be new content most of these streaming services could offer to take advantage of that audience (VUDU has a leg up on the competition in this case). Keep in mind that this is all me dreaming. Whether "Avatar: The Way of Water" is a big enough success to bring 3D TVs back is likely a pipe dream. But hey, you may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one!

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Is the "JAWS" IMAX Re-Release Going to be in 3D?

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A week ago, IMAX re-released Steven Spielberg's classic film "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" in cinemas. I took my niece and nephews to their first IMAX movie, and we all loved it. On the way out the kids noticed that IMAX will be re-releasing another Spielberg classic: "JAWS." The poster advertised the following:

Coming to IMAX and RealD 3D

While the poster does advertise two formats, it didn't specify if any of the 3D screenings would go to IMAX. I sent e-mails that went unanswered, but we are starting to get showtimes for this re-release and the answer to that appears to be...no, the IMAX screenings will not be in 3D. For that matter, despite advance tickets going on sale for most of my theaters, none of the screenings appear to be for the RealD 3D version. I have no doubt a 3D version was made, but it is odd that we are so close to the release and someone like me - that is, someone who lives in Los Angeles and can see whatever movie he wants to see for the most part - doesn't appear to have access to any 3D showings of the movie.

I'll keep an eye out to see if theaters even book the RealD 3D version, but I'm going to be upfront with you: I already have got my tickets for the IMAX 2D showing. No offense to fans of 3D, but there's a part of me that hopes we never see this version. This series already has a history of dipping its fin in the world of 3D and, well..it didn't turn out so good. Factor in the reality that the vast majority of 3D re-releases from old movies have not turned out to be good, I'm going to go on a limb and saw that seeing this one in IMAX 2D is going to be the way to go. For that matter, we've been watching this movie in 2D for more than three decades, so why change course now, right?! Anyway, there's my little update on "JAWS" upcoming re-release. Now I need to lie down and finish recovering from Covid-19.

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Why I Blame LG for Tragically Killing the Home 3D Market


Guest blog by David Brandt-Erichsen

I became a fan of home 3D in 2016 when I got my new LG flatscreen 4K OLED 3D TV. The very first time I saw the 3D picture on that set, my jaw dropped to the floor. It was stunning! Friends I showed it to all had the same reaction. The most common comment, after picking their jaws up off the floor so they could speak again, was “I want one of these.”

LG had perfected 3D TV. Nothing like this quality for 3D TV had existed before.

By 2016, 3D TV was already well on the way out. That year, only two manufacturers were still making 3D TVs. 3D TV had always been a niche market, partly because the technology really wasn’t all that good. It was fun, but the picture was not as good as a 2D picture. It was subject to ghosting (crosstalk) and the picture just didn’t look as real.

Originally, the only way to get a high-definition picture in 3D was with active shutter glasses, which were expensive and relatively heavy, especially at first. Companies like LG later introduced passive 3D with polarized glasses, which were like the ones in theaters, both cheap and lightweight. But the polarization cuts the resolution in half so with passive 3D a full high-definition 3D picture was not possible on a high-definition TV.

Then, in 2015, LG introduced the first flatscreen 4K OLED 3D TV, with passive 3D. What a difference! On these sets, a full high-definition picture was upscaled to 4K, so when the polarization cuts the resolution in half, you are left with the full high-definition 3D picture you started with. With passive 3D, this is only possible with a 4K TV. Add in the benefits of OLED’s direct emission of light — excellent contrast, vivid colors, wide field of view — and you end up literally with a perfect 3D image, with no ghosting. It is just as real looking as the 2D picture (actually more so) and is almost like looking through a window. In 3D mode, the brightness of the TV was even automatically increased to compensate for the darkness of the glasses.

Words fail me in describing the stunningly beautiful 3D picture on this set. I was convinced this could revive interest in 3D TV and potentially save the entire 3D industry. It was that good. I knew from experience that almost anyone who saw this picture would want one.

The problem was people never got a chance to see it. LG (and every other TV manufacturer) discontinued 3D after the 2016 models. LG cited “lack of consumer interest” and insisted that the cost of producing 3D sets was not a factor in the decision to discontinue.

So why was there a “lack of consumer interest” in this incredible quality picture? I blame LG for this. They made two incredibly stupid marketing decisions:

1. LG never marketed the 3D, never told anyone it was superior to previous 3D TVs, and never (perhaps apart from a few specialty stores) allowed anyone to see the 3D before they bought the TV. I remember going into Best Buy asking if I could see the 3D on the OLED. The answer was no, that LG had a built-in demo and they could not override it and it did not include 3D (in fact they could override it, but they did not want to bother). LG spent millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad in 2016 which did not even mention that 3D was available, let alone that it was superior. 

2. LG’s pricing structure ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED that 3D would fail. Their lowest-priced models and their most expensive models all had the same picture quality, so of course, the lowest-priced models vastly outsold the more expensive models. Their two lowest-priced models, the B6 and the C6, were the same price. The B6 was flatscreen and had no 3D. The C6 had 3D but also a curved screen. Curved screens were one of the worst ideas in TV history and were also on the way out, and were being soundly rejected by consumers, so naturally, the B6 vastly outsold the C6. LG took this as a rejection of 3D when it was really a rejection of curved screens and an indifference to 3D because nobody knew how good it was. The next model up, the E6, had a flat screen and 3D but cost $1000 more, even though 3D itself did not require a higher price. Nobody in their right mind (except me) would pay $1000 more for 3D that they had never seen and were never given a good reason to get.

If LG had only reversed the B6 and C6 features and paired the 3D with the flat screen on the least expensive set, the result may have been very different. But the way they did it, 3D was not even given a chance. (I was also angry that I had to spend $1000 extra to get a flat-screen paired with 3D.) Note that in 2017, LG discontinued curved screens as well as discontinuing 3D.

I think that LG either did not realize how incredibly good their 3D was or didn’t care. Perhaps they just thought that it was too late to reverse the trend on 3D. If so, I think they were wrong. LG just did not believe in their product. If only they had advertised it, if only they had demos in the stores (it only takes 5 seconds to hook people on the 3D on these sets), I think 3D could have taken off again, far stronger than before. And both LG and humanity would be the benefactor. If LG was correct that cost really was not a significant factor, it is doubly tragic to lose this technology due only to bad decision-making on their part.

I think that 3D on these OLEDs constitutes the most beautiful TV picture ever created, significantly better than UHD with HDR. It is a tragedy that this beauty is now denied to humanity. I blame LG for taking it away from us.

Not All 3D Movies Are Created Equal

Now, when I say that 3D is perfect on the LG 4K OLEDs, I should probably qualify that statement. Not all 3D movies are perfect, but the vast majority of Blu-rays of 3D movies made since the year 2000 will indeed display perfectly on these sets. 3D Blu-rays that will not display perfectly is almost always in the following four categories.

1. Low-budget native 3D movies made since 2000 can sometimes have light glare on an object on screen (e.g. hair with too much gel), and this can make that object appear in a slightly different plane, causing eye strain. Movies with decent budgets generally have directors that understand 3D well enough to avoid this from happening. Most movies with this problem are not very good movies anyway. Since light glare causes some polarization, it is possible this problem is limited to passive (i.e. polarized) 3D systems, but I am just guessing here and do not have a way to check out this idea.

2. Low-budget 3D conversions can either have little 3D depth (e.g. Clash of the Titans) or, much worse, have conversion errors. The worst conversion errors I have seen were on low-budget Chinese conversions where sometimes people even appeared to have two heads, one in back of the other. These were just not made properly. Such conversion errors are rare, and if I remember correctly are limited to non-U.S. movies. They tend not to be very good movies either. A good 3D conversion costs from six to ten million dollars and can look even better than native 3D because the results are better controlled. (Chinese 3D movies can have gorgeous 3D. Tsui Hark is one Chinese director who understands 3D very well, and his 3D movies are especially good-looking.)

3. Vintage or “Golden Age” 3D movies, most of them made in 1953, do not have perfect 3D. It is fun to watch, for example, the Alfred Hitchcock movie Dial M for Murder in 3D, but it is definitely not perfect. None of them are, but they are generally quite watchable.

4. 3D movies from the 70s and 80s are universally terrible and I find the 3D completely unwatchable. I have not found any exceptions.

David Brandt-Erichsen is a retired research assistant in molecular genetics, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Space Society, a volunteer webmaster for the Natural Arch and Bridge Society, and an avid 3D collector with over 550 3D Blu-ray disks.

If you want to contribute a blog post of your own, reach out to Kevin at greatmediauniverse@gmail.com!

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"Thor: Love and Thunder" Confirmed for IMAX 3D ('Minions' & "Lighter" 2D Only)

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Marvel's upcoming "Thor: Love and Thunder" will be receiving an IMAX 3D release along with other premium 3D screenings. These include (but may not be limited to): 4DX, PRIME 3D, and XD 3D.  Right now, the formats that are up in the air are Dolby Cinema 3D (which hasn't shown a 3D movie in YEARS) and RPX.  Most showtimes in my area are in the mid-to-late afternoon, so theaters must feel that it's worth their time to start releasing big-budget Hollywood movies in 3D again, so seeing the latest Marvel movie get approved for 3D screenings on premium formats isn't too surprising.  One area where 3D fans may find themselves a little more disappointed is the fact that while those live-action PG-13 movies are getting 3D screenings, family films seem to not be getting the same treatment. Illuminations "Minions: The Rise of Gru" and Pixar's first theatrical film in years "Lightyear" don't appear to be getting any premium 3D screenings.

Sure, if you want to see these movies in 3D you will have the opportunity to on standard screens, but so far, I haven't seen any commitment for bigger-than-usual screens.  This doesn't and does make sense at the same time.  On the one hand, it doesn't make sense because kids love 3D movies. Go to any 3D movie with kids and you'll hear tons of "wows" and "cool" throughout the film.  On the other hand, 3D movies are more expensive.  Yeah, IMAX 3D is only one dollar more than IMAX, but parents tend to be very budget-conscious when it comes to family outings at the movies.  Throw in high gas prices and record inflation, and even an extra $4 can seem like an extra $40 to most families.  And be honest with yourself: Would YOU pay extra to take your kids to see "Minions: The Rise of Gru?!"  I'm not looking forward to paying $3 to see it for myself.

This hurts a little bit more with "Lightyear" though.  While Pixar's track record with 3D has been fairly shaky, "Lightyear" looks like it having the 3D effects will greatly benefit the film.  Unfortunately, a real choice will have to be made, because it is also the first animated film to have scenes optimized exclusively for IMAX, which is a huge deal in and of itself.  Although I know some of my readers take a "no 3D, no ticket" stance (and it's perfectly fine if you do), most movie fans will want to see this IMAX just for this fact alone.  It's enough of a big deal that our 'IMAX vs. RealD 3D' feature will be returning for this movie (and maybe for 'Minions' as well).  In the meantime, I consider it a good thing that at least 3D screenings for big-budget blockbusters are returning to premium screens like IMAX and XD!

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"Jurassic World: Dominion" Gets MAJOR 3D Push: IMAX 3D, XD 3D, PRIME 3D, & 4DX 3D Screenings CONFIRMED!!!

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Either movie theaters are preparing people for another 3D wave that's anticipated with the upcoming "Avatar: The Way of Water" or "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" did much better business with 3D screenings than anticipated (maybe a bit of both), but "Jurassic World: Dominion" is getting the biggest 3D release I've personally seen in years!  I was pretty happy to see 3D make a comeback with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," but it was pretty obvious that the waters were being tested with that one.  The RealD 3D screens were the smallest screens in the theaters and most IMAX were only dedicating one showtime a day to the 3D version.  Despite the fact that Kevin Feige clearly stated that the 3D version was the way to view it, theaters approached the release with caution.  While this isn't the first 3D movie we've gotten since the world re-opened after the pandemic (I saw "Black Widow" in 4DX 3D and "Eternals" in PRIME 3D) it was the first movie to get a serious push (complete with a dedicated 3D poster and everything).

That push must have paid off because "Jurassic World: Dominion" is getting an even bigger push.  The film will not only be screening in IMAX 3D, but some of those showtimes will be in prime slots.  On the opening Thursday preview, one of my AMC's is showing the IMAX 3D version at 8:00pm while the standard IMAX 2D screening is getting the less desirable 11:20pm timeslot.  What's more, AMC appears to be dedicating most (if not all) of their PRIME screens to having the film in 3D.  It's the first time I've seen Cinemark (sans Doctor Strange of course) displayed in XD 3D.  What's more, both Cinemark AND Regal are dedicating multiple screens to projecting the film in 3D!  And yes: 4DX screenings will also be in 3D (I feel this should be an automatic, but this is the world we live in).  If you want to see "Jurassic World: Dominion" in 3D there is no excuse not to.







Course, if no one buys tickets to this in 3D things can change.  "Minions: The Rise of Gru" has at least some regular 3D screenings planned, but IMAX and AMC haven't made any choices about their premium screens having 3D showings.  "Lightyear" is the next major 3D movie coming out, and if "Jurassic World: Dominion" does particularly well we may see that movie in IMAC 3D and PRIME 3D as well!  Either way, 3D fans have a rare opportunity to not only see "Jurassic World: Dominion" in premium 3D formats, but also at times that are reasonable.  If you want to see the trend continue, you've got to voice your support by buying a ticket or two to these screenings.

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Top 10 Best BluRay 3D's (2022 Edition)

We now begin discussing 3D BluRay's that I feel are (mostly) worth having your collection.  Like the last update, we're tackling bad movies with excellent 3D transfers.  I'll leave it up to you to decide whether excellent 3D is enough to compensate for a bad or average film.  Later this week I'll drop the other list.  After that...I should probably work on an actual article again, what do you think?!

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Top 10 Worst BluRay 3D's - Part 2 (2022 Edition)

Here's the second list of worst BluRay 3D's you can currently buy (this time for the good movies).  Enjoy (and don't forget to like, favorite, and share)!

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Top 10 Worst BluRay 3D's (2022 Edition)

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Several years ago I did a couple of videos where I discussed the best and worst BluRay 3D discs I had on my shelf.  I've decided it was time to update those lists and also expand on them with four new ones!  Above is the worst BluRay 3D movies I own for BAD movies!  In a few days we'll list the worst I have for good movies.  Keep an eye on this blog and subscribe to the YouTube channel above to be notified when the next ones will be uploaded!