"The Book of Life" Makes Great Use of 3D! Will We Get a BluRay 3D?

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Reel FX's "The Book of Life" is one of the most unique animated films in years (along with "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" by Studio Ghibli).  The film was also released in 3D.  Animation and 3D tend to compliment each other greatly, and in this case it has resulted in the best use of 3D all year so far.  Chances are I will be seeing it a second time for a couple reasons.  The first is that it's just a great movie that deserves to be seen more than once.  The second is that I want to see it in 3D again should I not have the chance.  I am a little fearful that we might not get a BluRay 3D release despite the obvious need to view the film in three dimensions.  I worry about this because Reel FX's previous film "Free Birds" also made great use of 3D yet became one of the first mainstream 3D titles to only get a 2D release state side (Europe got the 3D though).

Granted, "The Book of Life" is critically acclaimed and a likely Oscar contender for Best Animated Feature where "Free Birds" was a critical bomb.  Yet if you look at the box office between the two films you'll notice there isn't much difference in how the two performed in their first couple of weeks in release.  It's hard to know if "Free Birds" 3D release was nixed because of box office, poor reviews, or a little of both, but common sense indicates that money is the driving factor behind most decisions in Hollywood.  So far the box office for "The Book of Life" gives me concern that a BluRay 3D release might not happen, so if you want to see the film the way it was intended to be seen you might want to catch it in theaters while you have the chance.


MIA Last Week: "Legends of Oz: Dorthy Returns"

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Now that I'm back in the full wowing of things here, I have to mention that we got another BluRay release last week whose 3D version is Missing In Action: "Legends of Oz: Dorthy Returns." Both a critical and box office failure, the film was released on DVD and BluRay combo packs last week.  However, no BluRay 3D was made available.  This is especially disappointing for fans of the film (if there are indeed any out there feel free to comment and let us know why you liked it) because the movie was made with 3D in mind, and many of the shots look distorted in 2D.  The fans are extra screwed in this case as there is no international BluRay 3D release of any kind (so no importing on this one), and Vudu doesn't have a digital 3D download.  In fact they don't sell the film at all... which probably speaks volumes to how big of a disaster this really was.  So, again, if there are indeed any fans of this movie that exist, hopefully you don't mind the odd looking 2D version of this film.

Edit: If you really need your Oz 3D fix I want to remind you that Warner Bros made a 3D version of the classic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" recently.  I'm not a huge fan of watching older movies forced be in 3D, however this was a surprisingly good upconversion, so for what its worth that's an option.


DreamWorks Animation Continues Strong Support for BluRay 3D

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While most of the Hollywood industry has started to downplay 3D's future, Jeffery Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation is still one of the most high profile fans of the format.  During a 20th Anniversary party held in London, Katzenberg reminisced on his career in the movie industry, his firing from Disney and helping Steven Spielberg and David Geffen found DreamWorks SKG, then he spent some time at the end confirming that DreamWorks is still dedicated to the 3D format and see's it as being very profitable in the long term.  Course, talk is cheap in this industry, and the best indication that DreamWorks is still fully backing the format shows up today in their release of "Mr. Peabody & Sherman."

The movie is being release in DVD, BluRay, and BluRay 3D combo packs (all versions come with UltraViolet, the format that studios are trying to force down your throat gradually introduce you to so they can take ownership away from consumers ride the digital revolution).  The BluRay 3D Deluxe Edition stands out for a couple reasons.  The first is that it has a cover that resembles the teaser poster very closely.  The second thing is that the cover proudly proclaims that the set "Includes All-New 'Rocky & Bullwinkle' Adventure!" (it should be noted that the short was supposed to accompany the film in theaters, however those plans were scrapped for some reason). 

What the cover fails to mention is how exclusive to this edition the short is.  Not only do you have to buy the Deluxe Edition to get the short, but it's only available to view in 3D. The reason the short is not included on the 2D BluRay or the DVD is not because there is a lack of space on the disks to include it.  I can tell you that there was ample space on all the disks to include the short and it would not have been very difficult.  No, the reason the short is only the 3D disk is that DreamWorks likes the format and wants to help it succeed.  It's not difficult to see why this is, seeing that they are probably the only company consistently putting out quality 3D in their movies (even Pixar seems to be struggling to figure out what to do with the format).  It gives them a reason to sell up-charged tickets and people who pay for them actually feel like they get their money's worth (just ask anyone who saw "How to Train Your Dragon 2" in IMAX 3D this year).

While most studios are tacklessly making a 3D combo available (or in some cases just skipping the 3D release altogether), DreamWorks is making a strong statement that they prefer you to buy their movies in 3D.  If people are lukewarm about the format, then they will include features that you can only get if you buy the 3D version.  And make no mistake, including a full seven minute short as a 3D exclusive is a substantial stance on where you should spend your money.  Chances are some people will buy the Deluxe Edition just because they'll want the short.  If they don't have a 3D TV, they might keep things like this in mind when it comes time to buy a new TV.  If more 3D releases had exclusives like these, stuff that would make people want to spend the extra few dollars for them, it would help the format out greatly.  When BluRay came out special features started to mainly become BluRay exclusives, and I see no reason why more studios can't give their movies a little 3D love to help sweeten the pot.

There was also a Best Buy BluRay 3D exclusive, and I'll discuss the importance of that in my next post.