"Ben-Hur" Reboot Ships Without 3D Version

In the midst of the Christmas season I failed to notice that the 2016 reboot of "Ben-Hur" shipped to stores WITHOUT a BluRay 3D version!  I mean, what is wrong with me?  Isn't this the whole reason I started this blog in the first place?!  Alright, to be fair, there is a reason I didn't initially catch onto this.  Because when I went to shop at Best Buy and Fry's the week this movie came out, there were price tags for a BluRay 3D version.  Neither store had any actual copies of this on the shelves, but I figured (for some reason) it had sold out.  Also, I had no intention of buying this movie in the first place, so I had no reason to prod further.  I have no idea why the price tags were on the shelves, but a review of the movie on High Def Digest confirmed that there is no BluRay 3D release.  Worse, there doesn't appear to be an import 3D release either, so if you saw it in 3D while it was in theaters, cherish the memory (if "cherish" is indeed the right word) because it looks like this one is going to be MIA for awhile.

It's one of those hard situations to really write about because it's not like this movie is worth seeing in general, the original movie is far superior and cheaper to boot, yet it's the very principle that a 3D version was made and now it's being denied.  During a week where stores got 3D versions of "The Secret Life of Pets," "Suicide Squad" and "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" were all released with their 3D versions intact.  Also, Disney did us a solid by finally releasing "The Jungle Book" and "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" on BluRay 3D, so the timing of this non-release is certainly a little weird.  And the frustrating thing is I can't bring myself to fight for a release on this movie because...I don't really want to own it in the first place.  I'm putting it on the MIA list anyway obviously.  If this movie has a 3D version I want it to be available.  That said, this title probably isn't worth getting too riled up over.  Also, there is no 3D version on Vudu.  Just making that clear.


There Are Multiple 3D Movies to See on Christmas

I'm going to save you form another mini-rant about how much Christmas has sucked so much for me this year to get back to doing what I'm supposed to be doing here: discussing 3D movies.  This is an ideal time to do that because there are three new 3D movies that are in cinemas this weekend with a few more left over hanging in for dear life.  If a fan of 3D wants to see a movie in their favorite format, they are in the unusual position of having multiple choices to chose from.  So, because I have seen all these movies, I'm going to give you a breakdown of what the movies are and whether or not they are worth the upcharge.  Let's start with the new movies shall we?

1. Sing

I didn't expect much from a movie about a bunch of singing animals who want to be famous from the studio that brought us the annoying Minions, but "Sing" gets some major points for actually being a little emotional in the third act and for displaying a great deal of energy.  Not only is this easily the best movie that opened this week (that was new... movies like "La La Land" that simply expand nationwide are different), it used the 3D the best.  This isn't surprising since Illumination Entertainment got their start with "Despicable Me," a movie that contained some of the most in-your-face 3D effects I've ever seen.  Thankfully they have scaled back quite a bit on the 3D being a distraction and now seem committed to using the format to immerse. "Sing" shows promise for the first time that this company actually knows how to use the technique they spend so much time on.

2. Passengers

I'm still not entirely sure what this one is about.  I've seen it, of course, but it seems more like a giant experiment that wasn't supposed to see the light of day that managed to do so because a lot of money was thrown at it.  This includes 3D effects that are certainly visually stunning and immersive.  Really, it's a shame the movie doesn't at the very least make more sense because this is one good looking movie.  It would normally justify its premium ticket pricing if the movie was any good.

3. Assassin's Creed

One day a Hollywood video game adaptation will come along and break from the sorry tradition of video games movies absolutely sucking and be a brilliant (or at least fun) piece of work.  That day did not come with "Assassin's Creed" and so we must wait for the inevitable "Halo" or "Metal Gear Solid" movie.  The 3D upconversion shows that the process has come a long way over the years, but with "Assassin's Creed" the visuals seems to have regressed into some of it's more primitive ways, which means only certain shots actually look good while the rest looks flat and inconsistent.  Not a movie worth recommending in general, but especially not worth it in 3D.

4. Rogue One

The new 'Star Wars' movie is obviously a hit.  It is also better than most could have hoped for.  The quality of the film is likely irrelevant to the films success, but if they are going to fart these things out one a year for the next half decade they might as well be good, right?  The 3D version is clearly the superior version, and science fiction lends itself well to the format.  This is also the movie that you are most likely to find on a premium format like IMAX, XD, RPX, ETX, and Dolby Atmos.  There's probably not reason to stay on this one since everyone is going to see it anyway, so let's move on.

5. Moana

This is certainly one of the best 3D experiences of the year.  Since it's been out for over a month most of the 3D screens are gone, but there are a few holding in there.  If you haven't experienced this one in 3D and there is a theater near you showing it in that format, this might be the one to go out of your way for before it is gone (since it's Disney we know a BluRay 3D release is far from guaranteed).

And that is your guide to 3D movies in theaters this Christmas Day.  Whether you see a movie or not, hopefully you have a wonderful holiday and have great people to spend it with!


"The Polar Express" Returns to IMAX

Life... sucks right now.  I'm not even going to sugarcoat it or make excuses for why updates have been slow.  Life just sucks right now.  It's amazing how things work out.  You try to help someone, you hope for the best, and before you know it things slip so fast through your fingers you swear you were trying to keep air from falling.  Relationships become broken, people don't want to be part of your life anymore, and the goldfish dies.  Right now it doesn't even feel like the holidays.  I could sure use some good old Christmas cheer right about now.  Thankfully, I may have gotten at least a little bit of that with the news that Robert Zemeckis's "The Polar Express" is returning to IMAX 3D this week only!  Though the film was initially met with mixed reviews, it was embraced by audiences who saw the IMAX version and made the yearly trek out to see it.  Once BluRay 3D became a thing the annual re-releases came to an end, but IMAX is bringing back the tradition starting today.

Anyone whose seen this movie can tell you what a difference the IMAX version made in comparison to the 2D version.  Even the Nostalgia Critic himself recommended the movie only if you saw it in 3D.  It is a prime example of just how good the format can be when used properly.  Bringing the film back is a welcome surprise.  That said, there are a few strings attached.  First of all, while most IMAX's will have the movie, almost all of them will be showing the film once a day, early in the morning.  Some might show it twice, but don't expect there to be any evening showings.  Also, as a result of this, for some reason the 3D version of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" has been pulled from every IMAX I can see.  You can still see the movie there, but only in 2D.  Finally, I have no doubt this was done pretty much because 'Fantastic Beasts' wasn't as big as everyone was hoping it would be.

Was it successful?  Yes.  Did it make a lot of money?  Yes.  Was the IMAX 3D version great?  Yes (which is why it was so strange most theaters opted to show it in 2D).  Did it have the staying power of previous Harry Potter movies?  No, not even close.  IMAX inked a deal with Warner Bros. to exclusively show the movie for three weeks.  This meant that "Moana" and "Billy Flynn's Long Halftime Walk" had to have their IMAX releases shuttled.  They were betting that 'Fantastic Beasts' would be huge.  It wasn't.  It was successful, yes, but during the second week the movie was showing to largely empty IMAX's.  Two weeks would have been fine, but three was pushing it.  As a result, they have given some time to another Warner Bros. release, hoping to pick up some of the slack.  Next week they'll have "Roque One" in theaters, so they won't be suffering much longer, but if you wanted to know why they are doing "The Polar Express" once more (seemingly out of the blue), this is the reason.  Still, it remains one of the best IMAX 3D experiences ever, so if you've never experienced it before now is your chance!


"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is the Most Botched 3D Release Ever

Full disclosure upfront: I have not seen Ang Lee's "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk." I want to, but thanks to a disastrous launch and a studio that seems apathetic to showing the film, I may not get that chance.  I am not reviewing the movie itself.  I pray we are past the days where 3D in a movie is so bad it makes the movie worse (though I know this isn't the case).  We are in a day and age where film makers are continue to push the 3D format to be more immersive, more vibrant, and more embraced.  James Cameron is even looking into glasses free 3D for the upcoming "Avatar" sequels.  While I don't believe the format ever needed saving in theaters (that is mostly reserved for home viewing), Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" did remind people of just how good 3D could be when done properly.  It helped that this was one of the best films to be released in the last decade, but everyone walked away from it with the same thought: skip 2D, see it in 3D.

What was more impressive was that this was a movie that wasn't an action movie, but a drama about having faith in times of crisis.  You wouldn't think 3D would benefit a movie like this much.  If you think that though, you underestimate Lee's ability as a visual storyteller.  Lee himself was so impressed with how much 3D helped 'Pi' that he decided to not only make most (if not all) of his future movies in 3D, he decided to take it a step further and push further formats as well.  Remember when Peter Jackson decided to up the frame rate of 'The Hobbit' trilogy from 24 frames per second to 48?  Well, Lee decided 'Billy Lynn' should be 120.  Also... why not film it in 8K resolution?  All in 3D.  That is a pretty wild combination.  It's difficult to explain why, but if you are someone who is into display settings and resolution, chances are your head just exploded a little bit.  This is such a step away from the norm, only two theaters in America can display the movie in the proper format.

The ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood, CA

What's more, these two theaters had to have major upgrades just to display this one single movie.  I'm stressing that last part because that is the part that is going to make the whole point of this post clear.  Now, the two screens thing is not really the issue here.  Earlier this year I reviewed a version of "Star Trek Beyond" in Barco Escape that was only on 48 or so screens.  Sometimes a format has to start small before it can get big.  What doesn't make sense if you spend a lot of money upgrading a theater to project a certain movie in a certain way and then decide to dump that movie before anyone gets a chance to see it.  And that is just the tip of the iceberg of how badly the release of "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" release has been handled.  I'm going to take this moment to remind my readers that I was on vacation the past ten days.  I was flying to West Virginia on the day 'Billy Lynn' was opening in just a handful of theaters.

The AMC Loews Lincoln Square in New York, NY

It slowly expanded to regular theaters the following week, but in a rare twist, the 120fps, 8K projected, 3D version of the movie was already gone.  One week.  The only two theaters in America capable of showing this movie in the preferred format were ArcLight Hollywood in California and AMC Loews Lincoln Square in New York.  To my knowledge, both these theaters had to have extensive upgrades to show the movie in this format.  Why spend all that money and time for this movie, just to show it for one week?  Granted, neither the box office or reviews were great, but let's talk about that.  First of all, yes, the reviews are not glowing.  I have no idea if this movie is even worth seeing at this point.  But I would like to see it.  And the studios took a chance on their film being a "word of mouth" movie by releasing it in less than a dozen theaters from the get go.  They also opened it during a week where most people need that week or two before they even hear the movie has been released.

You are competing with "Doctor Strange" and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" after all.  Yet after one measly little week, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" was pulled from these two theaters.  No word on if they will be back or not, but I'm guessing the answer to that is no.  Why bother spending the time and money to upgrade your theaters for this one movie only to pull it before anyone even realizes it's there?  That is pure lunacy to me.  At this point it's not even if people want to see the movie that is the issue: the point of the movie is the format, and you want people to have an extended period of time to be able to check that format out.  This is one of those rare times when word of mouth would carry this particular showing of the movie even if the audience isn't that keen on seeing it in the first place (and, again, with the competition out there you need to give people that time for them realize it's even there).

But, okay, so these two screens are out.  Most people couldn't travel there anyway.  What about the rest of the world?  They are getting screwed over the most.  While there were rumors of the movie initially coming to IMAX 3D, those plans didn't pan out because of commits to "Doctor Strange" and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (boy, I feel like this OP-ED is writing itself in circles at this point), so that's out of the question.  What about regular theaters?  Well, regular theaters have been getting the movie, but at this point almost all the showings are after 10:00pm, which is when adult movies tend to do the least amount of business.  Not only that, NONE of them are in 3D!  So, to recap, the movie is INTENDED to be seen at 120fps, in 4K resolution, in 3D!  Virtually all of the movie theaters I've seen the movie in (and I've researched California, New York, and Florida for my sampling, so I can safely say most of the country is getting screwed) are showing the film in 24fps, less than 2K resolution, and in 2D.  Almost all showings at a time when their intended audience is asleep.

This is literally the worst release of a movie I have ever seen.

The studio seems to have gone out of their way to show the movie in the worst possible way.  Most theaters can show movies in 4K resolution.  Some theaters are even capable of showing 2D movies in 120fps (and, to be fair, some theaters are doing this).  So why the 24fps?  Why the less than 2K resolution?  Where the heck is the 3D?  Why can't this movie be shown with some of the most basic requirements needed to enjoy it?  When analysts talk about poor box office all I see is a movie showing at times where the target audience is too tired to go to the theater.  "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" isn't just a gimped release, this is a movie that has had it's legs broken, it's skull bashed in, and then shoved onto the streets at night.  Even if you see the movie at all you aren't seeing it anywhere near the format Lee intended it to be seen.

Again, I know the specifications are high and most theaters couldn't project it in the way it was intended to be seen anyway.  But why not just try?  Give theaters a version of the movie that is 48fps, in 4K resolution, and in 3D.  These are NOT impossible specifications to meet for most theaters these days!  But more 3D screens need to be added.  4K needs to be a must.  ArcLight and AMC Loews need to bring the movie back for at least a month or so and give people a chance to experience the movie the way it was intended to be seen (and you upgraded the theaters so... use them).  At this point I have no idea if I'm going to be seeing "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" at all.  The release is too botched and the presentation too compromised for me to even desire to see it at this point.  Maybe it's not the greatest movie in the world, but it comes from a respected director who is trying something new, and the theaters (and studios) need to do a better job standing by this movie.  It is an unconventional movie being released in an unconventional way.  That doesn't always lead to overnight success, but that typically turns heads, which is what theaters need more of these days.

Mashable article for how "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is being presented in most theaters


Memo to 'Fantastic Beasts' Audiences: Double Check Your IMAX Ticket!


I am still on vacation, but I need to issue this warning on this Thanksgiving day to anyone who may be considering seeing "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" in IMAX this weekend.  I went to see the movie at the Tropicana IMAX in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  I have seen several 3D movies in this IMAX before, and they have one of the best projections I've seen.  The last time I viewed a movie there it was with "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies," which was actually being projected in 48 HFR projection.  So, obviously, this is a pretty good screen to see 3D movies in, and I was excited on seeing the new Harry Potter film (that didn't have Harry Potter) on it.  Alas, for some reason the movie was being projected in 2D only.  Since I was with a friend and was treating her to a vacation, I decided not to press the issue, but afterwards I double checked to make sure it was supposed to be in 3D in the first place.

Sure enough: it was.  I now have to see the movie again in a proper IMAX 3D presentation, but all the IMAX's I have near my home are oddly... inconsistent, with the projection.  Most of the them have half the screenings in 2D and half in 3D.  Some aren't showing the 3D version at all (despite being perfectly capable of doing so).  It is strange to see IMAX treading lightly on the 3D showings when they have just come off a very positive reception from "Doctor Strange" and it's great use of 3D.  Also, like 'Strange,' Warner Bros. made it a point to have 'Fantastic Beasts' on more 3D screens than 2D, sending a strong message to audiences about how the movie is supposed to be seen.  The good news is that some IMAX's are still offering 3D showings, but this is a troubling turn of events none-the-less.  It is especially bothersome since this is the only real IMAX in all of New Jersey (to my knowledge), and if you can't see the 3D version here, then you are pretty much screwed out of seeing the movie the best possible way.

Now the movie itself is pretty good.  I can easily recommend it.  Some of the shots looked weird, but, again, I saw it in 2D, so some of the warped images probably look fine when you add a third dimension to them.  Just make it a point to double check your ticket before you see the movie if the 3D is important to you, because this is one time IMAX is not only being coy about whether the movie is presented in 3D or not, they aren't being very upfront that this is what they are doing.  Hopefully this is just a one time thing they are trying, but we're going to be keeping a closer eye on the company from this point on to make sure.


Is the Solution to Disney's 3D Problem UltraHD?

Alright, look, we're ALL frustrated with Disney right now!  Their 3D support is laughably bad and their choices on what to release on BluRay 3D make so little sense you get the feeling that the company is picking titles to distribute by throwing darts at a wall.  Their mistakes for this format makes for a vast majority of the posts on this blog and it brings me no pleasure to point that out.  That said...there may be a solution waiting in the wings for them.  A way to recommit to the 3D format without jeopardizing money or giving fans the middle finger on a double dip.  And that solution may ironically come from the next format that Hollywood is betting big on: UltraHD BluRay!  UltraHD is the new disk format that makes the most use out of those shinny new 4K TV's that are being sold everywhere.  The big issue that is facing movie fans is that a 3D movie is still a separate purchase that needs to be made from a UltraHD disk.  Thankfully, studios are starting to realize people don't like making that choice and - rather than make two niche products - they are starting to package the BluRay 3D disks in the UltraHD releases.

So fans of "The Angry Birds Movie," "Ghostbusters (2016)," and "Star Trek Beyond" have options where they get the best of all worlds (except DVD of course).  Combining the 3D and 4K disks in one package is smart on a couple of levels.  The first is that it does take the aforementioned niche markets and combines them, cutting back on UPC's and rallying the hardcore fans of two products behind one.  The second is that it keeps 3D a viable format, and it gives the premium 4K TV's that still have the 3D option more value to the average consumer.  So... how does this solve the 3D problem Disney is having?  Well, at the moment they are the sole Hollywood studio who has not started backing the UltraHD format (shocking, I know, since they were the sole company not backing Ultraviolet).  There is talk that that is about to change, but until it does they are officially the sole holdout.  When they do enter the market they would be wise to make the long demanded BluRay 3D versions that have been denied to the fans as part of the sets a key selling point.

Because UltraHD is still so new everyone is expecting to pay more money for the disks up front.  By charging an additional $5 (which is something most people would be used to when buying a Disney movie) they can include the 3D versions and sell disks to the fans who have demanded these for so long.  And, of course, they will have a nice UltraHD disk for when they eventually upgrade to that 4K TV!  In fact, if they focused on releasing titles that also had a 3D version in this manner, their UltraHD launch slate could include:
  • Pete's Dragon
  • Frozen
  • Big Hero 6
  • Need for Speed
  • Beauty & the Beast (1991)
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • Maleficent
That wouldn't be a bad launch lineup now would it?  Will they actually do this?  Probably not, but seeing as they are the company that sells dreams, it would be fun to dream of this becoming a reality.


Disney to Release Not One, Not Two, But THREE 3D Titles on Tuesday!

Yes, I'm still alive.  Yes, I'm still working extra hours in my other jobs to save money for my trip.  Yes, once I'm actually on the trip I'll (ironically) have some downtime to update the blog more.  I still have my opinion on the surprise 3D release we're getting this year and my confused feelings about it.  I still don't have time to comment on it right now, but I will say the title is Disney's "The Jungle Book." While the movie came out in 2D only a month or two ago, on Tuesday we will be getting a BluRay 3D of the title.  Also, Disney will be releasing "Finding Dory" and the (also delayed) 3D release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." That is THREE 3D titles coming out in one day!  For once, I'm going to actually have to pass on one of these titles because it exceeds my weekly movie budget for buying discs (plus the whole trip saving thing).

What's interesting is that this is the most 3D releases Disney has released at once.  Not only that, but these are three MAJOR titles!  It's almost as if Disney is pushing the 3D format again!  What gives?  I couldn't really tell you for sure.  I have my suspicions (which will be shared in the upcoming OP-ED piece), but I believe Christmas could be a big clue in all of this.  The timing of these massive releases is also perfect as this will be the week after "Doctor Strange" opened with almost half of it's business being from 3D showings.  Also, 40% of the tickets sold for "Trolls" was for 3D showings.  How on Earth is 3D dead when so many people are still paying to see it and buying the discs?!  *sigh* It really makes my head spin sometimes.  Well, time to get back to packing.  See you all later this week!


"Star Trek: Beyond" On BluRay 3D (And Where the Heck Have I Been?)

"Star Trek: Beyond" hits home video this week and there is a BluRay 3D version.  The 'Star Trek' movies have benefited the most from the 3D effect more than most movies, so it's not too surprising that these movies actually move 3D disks.  At the local Fry's I bought my copy at the salesman mentioned that they got roughly thirty copies in the store, yet they were almost already sold out (there were five copies when I arrived and the store had only been open about four hours).  Now, thirty copies of a disk selling is not a big deal in the long run but we're talking about a format that would normally sell less than ten copies if it were any other movie.  The film is also being released in UltraHD BluRay (because that is a thing now).  Studios are starting to see the benefit of packaging the 3D and 4K disks together in one combo, but chances are this movie will be such a draw to techies (get it?) that Amazon.com got the exclusive rights to the 4K/3D combo pack on their site.

I don't buy from Amazon.com so you'll have to go to the site yourself to get this set, but you should find it easily.  Keep in mind you will also have to buy a replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise that jacks the price of the set up another $50 or so, but if you want the movie in every version available then this is your best bet.  As you can see from the picture above, I bought my copy, so I continue to contribute to the cause.  Which begs the following question: where have I been?  Well... nah, I'm not going to be clever, I was spending time with family.  In a couple weeks I'll be flying across the country to see a girl I happen to love very much, so there may be a small dip in updates there as well.  Once Christmas roles around there will be much to discuss.  I will particularly be interested in seeing how many 4K TV's sell, and whether or not people pick up to that format faster than they did with 3D.

That said, I do have some catching up to do.  I will be posting in the next couple days covering news stories I missed while I was gone.  I will even do an extended OP-ED piece about a huge news story to come out of the BluRay 3D scene that should have made me feel giddy.  Yet, considering the circumstances surrounding the announcement, I sort of just read the news and went "huh?". I won't spoil what that is here (you might have a good idea), but keep an eye out for that piece.  I also want to close this post by mentioning that Barnes & Noble are having their bi-monthly Criterion Collection Sale, where all titles from the Criterion Collection are 50% off!  Obviously you can get some great deals on some great movies, but when you go to add some titles to your cart, maybe I recommended "Pina" be one of them, seeing that it is the sole BluRay 3D Criterion makes, and we'd like to show them that we would buy 3D movies from them.

Plus it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, so you can add that to your awards collection to boot!


Harry Potter IMAX Re-Release Could be Problimatic

In preparation of the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," Warner Bros. and IMAX Corporation are celebrating with a one week release of the ENTIRE eight film series that helped make the giant screen format a hit with the public (other breakout hits that helped make the format mainstream include "The Polar Express," "The Dark Knight," and "The Matrix Reloaded"... all of which were also WB movies now that I think about it).  There are two things that are notable about this release.  The first if that this is going to mark the IMAX debuts of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," which were both just released in standard theaters when they initially came out.  The second thing we should mention is that all of the releases will be in 2D only.

Despite "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (both parts) being in full 3D, this re-release will only present the movies in 2D.  "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" also had select sequences presented in 3D exclusively for their initial IMAX releases.  The 3D sequences have not been seen by the public since then (not even on BluRay).  I thought it would have been a nice if the studio could have taken this opportunity to finish converting the series in 3D, but I suppose it wasn't meant to be.  It should be noted that the Harry Potter movies were always filmed in 2D and that the 3D sequences were always just considered "bonuses" by the studio.  They made the final installments 3D at the height of the 3D boom, but the effects were so underwhelming they even cancelled the 3D release for 'Deathly Hallows - Part 1' (though they did eventually release it on BluRay 3D).

At the moment I have other thoughts about this marathon than you might expect.  I'm wondering how the films are going to be spread out though the week?  What is going to happen to any new releases currently in IMAX?  Will people be able to see all the movies?  Will that lead to some complaints?  I suppose this will push Terrence Mallick's "Voyage of Time" out of most theaters.  Re-releases of classic movies in the IMAX format is nothing new (see "Raiders of the Lost Arc" "Titanic" and "Forest Gump" [strangely enough]), but never have we seen one that requires so many hours and show times to properly present.  Part of me is excited to see such a major event for classic movies in IMAX... however, part of me is also cautious that this isn't exactly going to be a problem free release.

Ah well, this should be fun none-the-less.  The marathon starts on October 13th and is scheduled to run for a week.  If it is successful and complaints come in from people that one week isn't long enough to see all movies (which is very possible), I think ""Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" may have to give up his spot (or most of his showings at the very least).  I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we get there though.


Disney Screws Over Spielberg (But Good News for 'Kubo' Fans)


Disney is at it again.  Unless Marvel or Pixar is involved, they really, REALLY don't care about preserving movies in their original presentation!  I am now very convinced that "Zootopia" was more of a testing ground to see if they could sell enough BluRay 3D's to justify returning to the format, and whatever magical number they needed to hit simply wasn't.  Because not only did "The Jungle," "The Finest Hours," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" get the shaft (although we are finally getting the latter this year), but Disney has decided another movie was not worth the effort to release in it's native 3D format: "The BFG." What makes this an especially insulting oversight is the fact that the movie was directed by the one and only Steven Spielberg, who takes how movies are made and preserved VERY seriously!  This is also a man who only directs in 3D when the format will benefit the movie.

To not release his film in 3D - the format he shot the movie in and intended to be seen in - is a slap in the face to one of our greatest living directors.  Of course... I know we will be able to import this and be able to watch it on out American BluRay players, but we simply shouldn't have to do this!!!  As if to twist the knife just a little bit more, the most intriguing special feature on the BluRay ("John Williams: Scoring a Dream") will be a digital exclusive; for absolutely no reason other than to make the digital purchase seem better.  They can easily place this special feature on the disk, so they are not only insulting Spielberg by not releasing his native 3D version on disk, but they are insulting people who buy physical media by not putting the most interesting special feature on the disk even though space isn't an issue.  They actually did something similar with their "Fantasia/Fantasia 2000" BluRay, where many of the classic DVD features were archived on the internet.

Which means you can watch those special features so long as the BD Live website still functions.  By continuing to do this Disney just insures that eventually fans will lose these special features to the winds of time, and I fail to understand how that benefits anyone (including Disney themselves).  This is the kind of blunder that made me made enough to create this site in the first place.  Well, the good news is that "Kubo and the Two Strings" WILL be coming to BluRay 3D in America, which was also shot in 3D and takes full advantage of the format, so... positive thoughts!

But seriously, bite me Disney.  This is a new low, even for you.


Ninja Turtles Sequel Comes to BluRay 3D Today ("The Huntsman" Still MIA)

Today's new releases features one proper 3D release and two non-releases.  The movie that did get it's native 3D release was "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows." This was shot in native 3D, so it is (visually speaking) one of the better 3D experiences you can have in the home.  The movie itself... well, it is likely going to become a guilty pleasure of mine.  The second major release is "The Huntsman," the sequel no one wanted in the first place.  The movie was released 2D in the states and 3D internationally.  Those who were hoping for a 3D home release in the states are out of luck, as it appears that version will remain an international exclusive.

The third release is sort of odd, as Disney has done another re-release of "Beauty & the Beast." As part of the Walt Signature Collection (even though Uncle Walt himself had nothing to do with the movie), this collection has been met with mixed reviews as lots of classic bonus features are dropped from previous releases.  Granted, there are a FEW new features, but they normally are not worth what fans lose!  In this case we are losing an entire disk of bonus features.  I think the special edition with the 'Human Again' sequence is not here either (nor is the work-in-progress edition).  Of course, the 3D version is also not on this new release.  Now, it should be noted that the movie was never made with 3D in mind, and when Disney was in a kick of re-releasing their movies in 3D the results were decidedly mixed.  Only the Pixar movies have made sense to upconvert, while the 2D movies look very fake.

So, with that said, this was probably no big loss in the long run, but it would still be nice to have a choice in the matter.  Ultimately though, when it comes to the releases today, while it would be nice to have 3D versions for all three films, we did get a 3D release for the one that actually mattered, so let's chalk that up to a win and focus on getting the other two another day.


"Finding Dory" Coming to BluRay 3D

Over the weekend Pixar has proven once again to be their own bosses from Disney by announcing that "Finding Dory" will be coming to BluRay 3D this winter.  The movie made a little more than "The Jungle Book" and a little less than "Zootopia." If this was a Disney movie it would give us a clue as to what constituted as "successful enough" for us to get a 3D release, but since this is Pixar (who pushed for a 3D release for box office flop "The Good Dinosaur") we know that this is more about artistic integrity than money.  In other news, Marvel is releasing "Captain America: Civil War" on BluRay 3D today.  Best Buy has an exclusive steelbook case that will likely fly off shelves, so hardcore fans might want to keep that in mind.  I guess it's nice to know that all the companies Disney owns are still supporting the format.  Now if only Disney themselves would get back on track to supporting the format.


"Ghostbusters" 2016 Getting 4K/BluRy 3D Combo Pack


First it was "The Angry Birds Movie" and now "Ghostbusters" is getting a 4K/BluRay 3D combo pack, ensuring that customers won't have to choose between two different versions to future proof their collection.  Unlike the other movie, "Ghostbusters" is something that I am interested in owning, and (should I have disposable income) I will be picking it up.  Having only been two releases of this sort of combo pack, I'm not sure what the criteria is for a movie getting these types of releases, but at the moment I'm thinking this is pretty much a Sony thing.  "Ghostbusters" is a Sony movie, "The Angry Birds Movie" was distributed by Sony, they still make 3D TV's, they make 4K TV's with 3D functionality, AND they own the BluRay 3D format!  Whether this is the case or not I don't know, but it is the only thing I have to go on.  If this is how it's working, then I am not very hopeful that other companies will adopt this practice.

They have less reason to put their weight behind a format that they perceive to be dying, even though I am fully convinced 3D will come back.  Heck, it never really went away in the first place.  We still get dozens of 3D films a year, eventually one of them will win Best Picture (the format came close with "The Life of Pi" and "Gravity"), and even TV manufacturer's are still developing new 3D technologies (the next step is to make the 3D glasses free).  Either way, a sale for one of these combo packs is a good thing, so if you liked this movie (I know there are a lot of you who didn't) pick this up to show your support!  Sales speak louder than e-mails do.


"Jason Bourne" Gets 3D Release in China (And Apparently it Sucks)

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In what has become something of a standard, while Paul Greengrass's "Jason Bourne" came to American cinemas in just a 2D form, a 3D version was created for the Chinese market.  And by all reports it's... pretty terrible.  I mean, it is so terrible, that not only are Chinese audiences protesting the 3D version, but many are insisting they get their money back.  What on Earth is it about this 3D version that is so terrible that even the Chinese (who - let's not kid ourselves - are a key reason the format is alive at the moment) are against it?  Well, I obviously haven't seen the 3D version, but having seen the movie itself I can wager a guess: Shaky camera.  Great 3D can come from anything, but there are a few things a movie wants to focus on to get maximum usage out of the effect.  Long shots help.  Steady camera work is a must.  If the movie has scenes where characters are flying or swimming, it will help (but make sure there is a wide open space so that characters can 'float').  Finally, it helps if the film was not only shot with 3D in mind, but with 3D cameras to boot.

"Jason Bourne" is pretty much the opposite of everything I listed above.

It was not shot with 3D in mind.  It has no long shots.  The editing is chaotic and fast paced.  Also, the camera shakes.  Like, it shakes a lot.  When you combine all these components and try to force them into a 3D experience, I can imagine why that would be a miserable experience.  The shaky camera is especially problematic for 3D, because if the image isn't smooth on some level, the image will be blurry and induce headaches.  For all intents and purposes, "Jason Bourne" was made to be a 2D film.  Last I checked, Greengrass has no interest in the 3D format.  And you know what?  That's perfectly fine.  Despite what this blog is about, I'm more interested in trying to convince studios to preserve ways to view films that were made with 3D options, not encourage all films to be made in 3D.  3D (like color) should not be forced onto a film if it doesn't fit, and if our Chinese friends are to be believed, the 3D version of "Jason Bourne" made them sick.

Of course, there is the OTHER issue they had with this, in the fact that apparently 90% of the screens were showing the 3D version!  I mean, isn't that just the cherry on top of this crap sundae?  How would you like to have a 3D version of a movie that makes the film look worse, makes you feel sick while watching it, is more expensive, AND is the only way to easily see it?!  See, as much as it annoys me that American theaters are making seeing 3D movies difficult in some situations, we could be in a situation where we are forced to see 3D movies that are made worse by the mere fact they are in 3D.  Now, this DOES raise the question of how it should be determined what 3D movies should be widely available and which should be hidden, made available only to the most hardcore of fans!  I will discuss this in a later post.  For the time being, it looks like we dodged a bullet by not getting the version of "Jason Bourne" in 3D.  And, since the movie is already bad, the last thing we need to do is pay extra to see a bad movie that will make us physically sick to watch it.


Two BluRay 3D's MIA This Week (One You Care About, and Another You Probably Don't)


Two movies that were projected in 3D in theaters are being released on BluRay this week without 3D versions accompanying them.  The first is one you probably care about, which is Disney's "live action" remake of "The Jungle Book," which was a huge hit in theaters and loved by pretty much everyone who saw it.  Like "Zootopia," this was one of the biggest hits the 3D format had in theaters, but unlike "Zootopia," if you want this in 3D, I guess you need to import it from Zavii.  Now, to give Disney credit, they HAVE stated that a BluRay 3D is coming at a later date!  But... well, I'll believe it when I see it.  No offense to the Mouse, but I don't really understand why the 3D versions would be coming at a later date.  No other studio holds off on releasing BluRay 3D's unless they first released the movie on disk at a time when 3D TV's weren't really a thing.  Disney IS finally releasing "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" on BluRay 3D in December, so there IS a chance they will keep their word on this, but it just doesn't make a lot of sense to hold off on releasing the product until a time when potential buyers may have just moved on and done the import thing!

On the other hand we have "Ratchet & Clank," the video game based movie that was supposed to launch a cinematic universe for Sony video games, but came and went before anyone noticed it was there.  I previously wrote that those who wanted to see the movie in 3D might want to hurry as many theaters didn't even bother to keep that version for more than a week.  Turns out, that brief two weeks is the only way you could have seen this in 3D, as there is no BluRay 3D release in sight.  I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for this to come out with one at a later date.  I have been unable to verify if an import or 3D stream is going to be available, but I will keep you guys posted.

Also, I do want to take a quick moment to mention that comedic actor Gene Wilder passed away yesterday.  Known for "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," "Blazing Saddles," and his Oscar-nominated role in "The Producers," he was a great comedic talent and will surely be missed.  He signed a Willy Wonka photo for me many years ago, and that photo that hangs in my office is now going to be treasured much more from this point on!


"Hondo" to be Re-Released (Is a 3D Version Coming?)


Did you know John Wayne made a 3D film?  He did!  Not only that, it was a 3D western, that was made with the most sophisticated 3D cameras (at the time), and even had a finale directed by an unaccredited John Ford!  Well, he did, and that is "Hondo." Now, on the other hand we have Kino Labor.  Kino is one of the companies out there who are pulling up the slack when it comes to releasing catalog films on BluRay when the studios don't want to.  They have recently announced a list of movies they will be releasing from Paramount, and one of those films is "Hondo." The thing is... they didn't mention whether a BluRay 3D release is part of the deal.  It should be noted that they HAVE released 3D movies in their original format in the past, I'm only bringing this up now because they haven't announced a 3D release for THIS particular movie! 

Seeing how movies like this are niche in their very nature, if you want to try and insure that this gets a BluRay 3D release, I highly recommend you write to Kino through e-mail, Twitter, Facebook... whatever, and let them know that you want it.  Because if this movie get to press without a 3D disk, it may very well mean that we'll never have a 3D version of "Hondo" pressed on disk (if digital does take over, at some point, I do believe streaming 3D content will return at some point).  So get those let-er, um, I mean, E-MAILS, ready to send!  Also tweets. 

God, the new world is so strange sometimes when I stop and think about it.


Universal's First 3D Movie Coming to BluRay

Despite what some of you kids who are reading this may be thinking, 3D is not a new thing.  It was experimented with heavily not once, but twice, before it came to the current state it is at (some would argue we are winding down the third experimentation phase, which is a subject for another day).  Back in 1954 Universal Studios decided to try their hand at a 3D science fiction film, and the end result was "It Came from Outer Space," which has (naturally) become a cult classic over the years.  Part of the reason may be because since the film was shot in 3D - but is unable to be displayed in 3D most of the time - the movie looks just even more silly than most science fiction films of the period sounded.  Fans will now get a chance to see that 3D effect though, as Universal is releasing it on BluRay 3D.

The catch is that, for the time being, this will be an exclusive release at Best Buy.  This doesn't surprise me too much as Best Buy seems to be the only retailer with a section dedicated to 3D movies (they sit next to the UltraHD movies, ironically enough).  Otherwise the only other retailer that still takes time to educate people on the benefits of watching movies in 3D is Amazon (and they are online so it's easy for people to maneuver around that information).  For the time being, retailer exclusives are probably the best way we are going to get 3D releases of movies that, quite frankly, don't have a lot of mass market appeal.  "It Came from Outer Space" may be historically significant in the history of 3D film, but it (most likely) isn't what you would call a great movie in and of itself.  I guess we'll be able to decide that for ourselves come October.

On a final note, if you were interested in seeing "Ben-Hur" in 3D and see a theater near you that is projecting it in the format, see it this weekend, as if may be the last chance you have until the BluRay 3D comes out (it's a Paramount/MGM film, so I'm certain we'll get one).


IMAX to "Ben-Hur": GET OUT!!!

"Ben-Hur" is officially a flop.  It opened at number six at the box office opening weekend, with less than $15 million dollars to show for it.  The screening I attended was on a Saturday, in IMAX 3D, at 5:45pm.  There couldn't have been more than ten people at the screening.  That is pitiful for opening weekend blockbuster.  Now, in standard IMAX tradition, the movie is being dropped from their screens come Friday with a double bill of currently-in-theaters "Jason Bourne" (making it's US IMAX debut) and a re-release of "The Jungle Book," a movie that was big in theaters all the way back in April.  What's more, most IMAX's aren't even waiting out the first week, with many dumping the movie on Tuesday for these older movies.  Friday will also see the film lose many of it's standard screens (as well as almost all of it's 3D screens).  Judah Ben-Hur may have come up on top in the movie, but at the box office he was first to die and last to finish.

Still, lackluster as the movie was, I can't help but think "why oh why couldn't this have been 'Suicide Squad?'"


"The Jungle Book" Returns to IMAX 3D This Week!

You read that correctly folks: "The Jungle Book," one of the best 3D films to be released this year, it coming back to IMAX for a limited time!  This says two things at once.  First, it shows just how good the IMAX 3D presentation was, as only a select few movies get invited back ("Avatar," "Gravity," "The Dark Knight," "The Polar Express," etc...).  The second is that "Ben-Hur" (the current IMAX movie) is doing REALLY poorly in that format!  In fact, the movie is doing so bad in general, it might actually lose $100 million dollars, making it one of the biggest flops of the year.  So if you want to see "Ben-Hur" on one of the biggest screens out there, you've basically got two days left to do so.  It should also be noted that not all IMAX theaters will be showing "The Jungle Book" on Friday.  Some will revert back to "Suicide Squad" while others will be premièring "Jason Bourne" in the format (the movie was only shown in international IMAX's).

Bottom line, this isn't the first time IMAX has brought back older movies when a new release fails in a (eh hem) big way.  The fact they chose "The Jungle Book" shows just how good the movie was in that format.  So, if IMAX wants it back, you'd think this would make an obvious movie to release on BluRay 3D for Disney?  Oh, if only life were that simple...


Fans of 3D Have Lots to Choose from This Weekend!

If you want to see a 3D movie in theaters this weekend, then the good news is that you have several choices.  The bad news it that the good choices are likely going to be hard to track down.  Here are the movies you have to choose from if you want to see something in the third dimension:


A remake of the 1959 Best Picture winner, "Ben-Hur" makes great use of the 3D effect, but, sadly, comes off as a pointless remake.  Going into the movie you know there is no way it can top the 1959 classic, but it is disappointing none-the-less to see the results fall this short.  The scene that makes best use of the 3D is the chariot race.  Even still, the cost of an IMAX 3D ticket can buy you the original movie on BluRay (with "The Ten Commandments" thrown in for good measure), so this isn't the best option.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Stop motion 3D movies can be very hit or miss in terms of whether or not the effects are worth paying the extra money for.  'Kubo' falls somewhere in the middle here, but the movie itself is so good it's worth paying the extra money for those two or three scenes that truly benefit from the effect!

Pete's Dragon

This is the movie that makes best use of 3D that you can see this weekend.  The bad news is the film opened last week to lukewarm box office, so some of the 3D screens have likely been sacrificed for newer movies.  If you can find a 3D screen showing this though, it is well worth the money, as it is one of those truly magical experiences that 3D can offer.  Also, it should be noted that this is a Disney film.  So that combined with a poor box office opening means... enjoy this in theaters, because we likely aren't getting a BluRay 3D release.

Suicide Squad

It pains me that this is still part of the conversation, but not only is "Suicide Squad" still widely available in 3D, but Cinemark XD backed out on their commitment to screen 'Kubo' on their screens to keep this, and a good chunk of IMAX screens are doing the same for their commitment to "Ben-Hur." I can not stress what I lousy, terrible movie this is, with editing and camera shots that are so bad the 3D actually makes the movie look even less comprehensible.  This is one to skip at all costs... even though it looks like it might top the box office for a third week in a row.


IT'S CONFIRMED: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Coming to BluRay 3D 11/5!

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I feel a little foolish having spent so much time on yesterdays post, but it is one of those rare times I'm glad to have been wrong.  It turns out that Disney and Lucasfilm (even though they are essentially the same company now) have confirmed that on November 5th, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will be hitting BluRay 3D!  It will be a four disk set and contain all the special features on the previous BluRay release, a couple of retailer exclusive bonus features that have been opened up, and a couple of new ones.  A price hasn't been announced, but my personal guess is this will retail somewhere between $49-$59.  As you can see, I've posted the image for the potential cover art above.  Now, if Disney REALLY wants to revive BluRay 3D this Christmas, they could also give us a 3D release of "Frozen!" I'm just saying, it would certainly sell!

Oh, and as for the 3D versions of the prequel trilogy, there is still a chance those can be released somewhere down the line.  At this point, maybe it would make sense for Disney to make 3D conversions of the original trilogy, and then release all seven in a giant box set that they know fans will but even if they don't have a 3D TV.  For now though, we can officially strike "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" off the MIA list!


Disney Still Confused on Their Support for BluRay 3D

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So... was "Zootopia" a success on BluRay 3D or wasn't it?  I have been trying to find out because, honestly, knowing the answer to that question could potentially clear up where Disney really stands on releasing future movies on BluRay 3D in America.  Last week I've read different reports on Disney's plans for several of their upcoming movies: "Alice Through the Looking Glass," "The Jungle Book," and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." We'll tackle each release one at a time. 

First up, we have Disney's only real bomb this year, "Alice Through the Looking Glass." "Alice in Wonderland" came out in 2010 and became one of the highest grossing films of all time, and rode the 3D goodwill that had just been established by "Avatar" to great success.  While the sequel was never going to match the first films success, no one was prepared for how bad it would ultimately do, and it was one of the few times where the 3D version was given a noticeable shrug by audiences in the theater.  Because of this, I sort of understand why Disney has announced a BluRay release without a 3D version attached.  However, since "Alice in Wonderland" WAS one of the first movies the studio released in BluRay 3D, it is all the more disappointing that they aren't going all out for it.

Where things get a little more dicey is with their upcoming release of "The Jungle Book." Unlike 'Alice,' this movie WAS a huge hit (it was also a much, MUCH better film all around)!  As with 'Alice,' this movie has been announced for BluRay.  Unlike 'Alice' though, the press release actually goes so far as to say a BluRay 3D is coming later this year.  When later this year?  Probably around Christmastime we'll get an 'Ultimate Edition' which will include it.  That's a guess though, as the statement in the press release was vague and not very helpful.  At least we got some sort of announcement though, so fans can hold off on importing this one.

Finally, let's talk "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." I've saved this one for last partly because this was one is purely speculation, and partly because it's the one movie everyone reading this cares the most about.  Next to "Frozen," the lack of a 3D release of 'The Force Awakens' is one of the biggest sticking points for fans of the format.  Both these movies are (what I like to call) 'big duh' movies.  It's the kind of movie that has so much demand for a 3D release, that if someone actually asked in a board room if one should be made available, a less polite person would give the one asking that question a stupid look and say "well, DUH!" So when we didn't get a BluRay 3D announcement I was left to conclude that either Disney was digging their heals in on not releasing BluRay 3D's just to spite fans, or they were planning something big.  If recent rumors are true, it will be because Disney may have found a way to sell a pile of crap to consumers along with the product they actually want to buy.

In fact, Disney might be planning to sell 'Star Wars' fans three piles of crap just to get 'The Force Awakens' on BluRay 3D.  First, a question: Does anyone here remember those terrible prequel films?  Of course you do.  We ALL do!  Do you remember that they were going to be remastered in 3D and rereleased in theaters?  Well, that was the idea.  George Lucas (remember that guy?) wanted to create another tradition of doing annual rereleases of the 'much loved' prequel trilogy, and he figured one of the best ways to do this would be to upconvert the films in 3D.  "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" did make it into theaters in 3D, but it did so with a shrug.  I was one of the few people who paid money to see the 3D release and I can say that the movie only improved in one scene with the 3D.  I bet all of you know what scene I'm talking about too!

That's right, it was the pod racing scene!

The pod racing scene was very much improved by being in three dimensions.  Otherwise, though, the movie wasn't any better being in 3D than it was when it was in 2D.  There is still that horrible dialog.  There was still all that talk about trade disputes.  Jar Jar Binks is still annoying.  So fans stayed away.  I mean, sure, it made some money, but no where near as much as if Lucas had just done another release of 'The Empire Strikes Back.' When Disney bought Lucasfilm the 3D versions for the other two movies were completed, but Disney decided to shelve them.  They had a new movie to make, they wanted to make 'Star Wars' cool again, and doing a 3D rerelease of the crappy movies that almost killed this franchise was not a direction Disney likely wanted to take.  What does any of this have to do with 'The Force Awakens' you ask?  Well, whether these 3D versions are seen as nessicary anymore or not, the fact of the matter is they were made and they do exist.  If Disney didn't feel like these versions were going to sell tickets they were just as sure they wouldn't sell disks.

Unless, maybe... it was packed with something people did want?  Yes... if that were to be the case, people might actually buy them.  So, if the rumors are true, Disney will be releasing a box set in the near future that will have 'The Force Awakens' in 3D along with the prequel trilogy.  There will be no stand alone release.  If you want the good movie in 3D, you'll have to pay for the movies you don't want in 3D as well.  And - because this is considered a specialty release - the chances of these movies being sold separately somewhere down the road is not guaranteed, so the fans will just have to suck it up.  This is what the geeks will refer to as "the dark side of the force." Because it is true that this is a pretty good way to do this.  Purely from a business perspective, it makes perfect sense.  'Star Wars' fans will buy anything.  Don't act like this isn't true; you know it is.

You also know that, despite this mentality, the prequel movies are so bad most people won't buy them unless forced to.  When the movies were released on BluRay you had to buy all six at once.  Eventually they split them into two trilogies, but guess which trilogy you see more copies of on store shelves consistently?  Fans have been very vocal about wanting 'The Force Awakens' on BluRay 3D, and they want it enough that they may just be willing to spend over $100 (which would include three movies they don't want) just to get it.  I would normally complain about such obvious price gauging, but if 'Star Wars' fans haven't learned their lesson after thirty years of this practice, then maybe they deserve to keep getting screwed.  And really, if these rumors are true, at least they are getting the 3D version.  'Alice' and 'Jungle Book' fans are the ones who are potentially getting the short straws in all this, as they might be forced into doing the import game again.

I mean it, I REALLY would like to know if "Zootopia" was a success on BluRay 3D or not!  I would like to know if that was contributing to the solution or the problem.  I would like to know if a movie has to hit a magical number at the box office before Disney even considers releasing something in BluRay 3D.  Disney is one of the most profitable companies in the world.  They can certainly afford to have a blanket policy where everything gets a 3D release if a version exists.  If they can't justify a separate release, just make one massive combo pack and charge an extra $5 for it.  Trust me, people paid an average of $5 extra for Disney movies when they were releasing them on VHS.  They will certainly do it again for BluRay.  Until they do something, Disney will be on our list of companies to complain about.  It's nice that we're getting a few key releases, but that is nowhere near good enough when their competition is largely just releasing everything and not playing this game at all (that means "Suicide Squad" fans will get to buy a BluRay 3D regardless how disappointing the box office ultimately is in the long run).


"Suicide Squad" Set to Open Big in 3D (But Where's "The Little Prince"?)

We might as well not beat around the bush: "Suicide Squad" is likely to open big this weekend.  Despite getting absolutely abysmal reviews, the hype for this thing is just too great to derail it this weekend.  It will open big, many theaters will be sold out, and we'll just have to wait until the second weekend to see if audiences actually enjoyed it enough to keep it around more for than a few weeks.  The vast majority of the screens will be presenting the film in 3D (as will almost all the IMAX's), so even if Warner Bros. don't mention it specifically, this movie is bound to be another hit for the format.  There is, however, another 3D movie opening this weekend, but finding a 3D presentation for it may require some detective work.  That movie is "The Little Prince," which was supposed to be released by Paramount Pictures in March, before they dumped the film and sold it to Netflix.

Netflix will be premièring the film on their streaming service today, but a few theaters will be showing the film as well.  The problem is these screenings are going to be VERY sparse!  How sparse?  Well, I live near Los Angeles County, and even I can't find any showings of the movie.  There is an Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco that appears to be showing it, but they are only showing it once a day.  At 2:45pm.  In 2D.  That is... pretty sad for a movie that was shot specifically with the 3D format in mind.  In fact, animation tends to lend itself better to 3D than most live action movies, so in this case the lack of options to view it in the format is especially discouraging.  Despite what many believe, Netflix does stream some 3D content, but at the moment we have no idea if "The Little Prince" is going to have that option made available.

If there was the promise of a BluRay 3D to come maybe some concerns could be eased, but Netflix is (rightfully) cautious about releasing exclusive content on disk.  The fact that "Daredevil" and their various DreamWorks cartoons aren't yet on DVD or BluRay speaks volumes about that.  It should also be noted that a month and a half ago Netflix premièred the long lost "Underdogs" movie...

...which was supposed to go to theaters via The Weinstein Company, but was pulled at the last minute without so much as a word.  That movie was also shot in 3D, but (surprise, surprise) there is no current way for fans of the movie to watch it in the specified format at the moment.  These are the days when running this blog is especially frustrating because "The Little Prince" and "Underdogs" were both made to be viewed in 3D.  Both films had their theatrical runs cancelled, they were shoved onto Netflix (which - I must stress - is still better than not getting them at all), and have dumped 3D versions that made both movies look better.  "Suicide Squad" has dubious 3D effects, yet is made available for the entire world to see very easily should they choose to (even if they don't).  It's a little sad, but that is the world we live in.


"Star Trek Beyond" Coming to UltraHD/BluRay 3D Combo Pack!

"Star Trek Beyond" has been announced for home media (already), but the big news is that not only is it getting a BluRay 3D release, but here is going to be one of those massive combo packs that contains both the 4K UltraHD disk as well as the BluRay 3D!  Who knew that one week after "The Angry Birds Movie" started this trend we'd get a second release from a movie that is a much bigger deal in both formats?!  That said, this one comes with a couple strings.  The first, is that you can only buy it in this massive set that comes with a replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  The second, is that it is going to be exclusive to Amazon.com.  Now, I know that a lot of people here have no issue purchasing something from Amazon, but I have essentially been buying from everywhere BUT Amazon for the past three years!  It's going to be interesting to see if I go through the gates of Hell this one time to get me a combo pack.

Yes, I still am nowhere near getting a 4K TV (and would prefer to watch this movie in 3D even if I did), but I do genuinely like the idea of packing both special disks into one pack rather than make consumers choose.  Heck, maybe manufacturer's can start moving TV's if they are selling people TWO picture upgrades on their sets as opposed to one or the other!  For that reason alone, until it becomes commonplace to get these sort of releases, I'm probably dedicated to buying these ultra combo packs every time one is announced.  Still man, I have to admit, having the double whacking of paying for a model I won't need AND buying the item from the closest thing we have to a Satan on Earth... that is a mighty tough pill to swallow!  I'm hoping there will be some sort of compromise before we get to the street date, but I am also aware of the fact that store exclusivity is the best bet most fans have to get these sort of releases in the near future.

I mean, just look at that thing; it doesn't hold the disks or anything.


Should You See "Star Trek Beyond" in Barco Escape?


I have now seen "Star Trek Beyond" twice in a week.  I enjoyed the movie so seeing it twice was not a chore by any stretch of the imagination, but my reasons for seeing it a second time so soon were more for research purposes.  I first saw the film with my family at the Esquire IMAX theater in Sacramento, CA, where it was presented in glorious 3D that took full advantage of the films settings and action sequences, making it one of the best 3D experiences I've had at the movies this year.  However, I heard shortly afterwards about this new theater format called Barco Escape, which was being developed as this new, immersive screen that would surround the audience.  It has been developed to compete with IMAX and Dolby Cinema, and with "Star Trek Beyond," about thirty minutes of the movie were made specifically with this format in mind.  Being someone who always wants to see a film the way its film makers intended it to be seen, I called a friend (let's call him Zach the Mac) to see if he wanted to see the movie in this new format with me.

So we drove to the Palladio 16 Cinemas in Folsom, CA, where we were surprised to find the ticket price was no more or less expensive than a standard 2D ticket price.  We arrived just in time for the pre-movie intro, where one of the producers explains how the Barco Escape worked.  Basically, there are three screens.  One in the center and two on the sides.  For the most part, only the center screen will be on, but for a few sequences (mainly ones involving the Enterprise fighting in space) the other two screens will turn on and show expanded images, thus immersing the audience more deeply into the action.  In way, this isn't much different from how certain IMAX movies have expanded images at the top and the bottom of the screen, only this time the images literally circle you.  Here's the thing about Barco Escape though: This isn't the first time this sort of cinematic experience has been attempted before.  In fact, this is pretty much an exact modern day replica of Cinerama.

The image you see above is what a Cinerama Theater looks like (seeing as how there is one still in operation in Hollywood, CA, you can still check it out for yourself if you so desire).  The screen was developed to be given a "curved" look, which would sort of wrap around a movie theater that was presented in a dome.  Dome theaters are pretty rare these days, so Barco Escape has taken a different approach...

...by just sitting three 2.35:1 aspect ratio scenes next to each other.  Now, I should probably mention that the photo you see above is likely how the screen was designed to be exhibited in theaters.  The screen me and Zach the Mac went to was previously a regular screen that was converted to this new technology.  I understand that sometimes theaters just have to make do with space that they already have, but - as IMAX learned the hard way - this sort of conversion can lead to many compromises in the actual experience.  For instead of the screens surrounding the audience, they were sort of parched up in the air.  To be on an even viewing field an audience member would have to sit in the back of the theater, at which point they would sort of be surrounded by the screens, but not really.  For that matter, the closer you are, the more you have to look up at the screens.

We sat in the center row of the theater, in seats that were more on the right.  This meant that whenever the Barco Escape scenes started, the image was a mixed bag.  The left screen and center screen looked fine, but the right screen always seem to have an image that never really connected with the center screen.  Had we been at a theater where the screen and seats were made from the ground up to compliment each other, maybe this wouldn't have been an issue, but in a converted theater, I sense there are a very select ground of seats where the full experience can even be felt.  For that matter, the fact that there was only 30 minutes of the movie that took advantage of the other two screens became a distraction.  Even when all three screens were in use, the only screen that really mattered was the center one.  This is obviously because the film makers knew not many theaters could screen the film in this way (only 24 if my research is correct), so they wanted to make sure the movie looked consistently good with only one screen.

When the other two screens weren't in use (which was often), the center screen was so small and distant, that I almost didn't feel like I was in a movie theater.  Again, had this been a native Barco Escape theater, maybe this wouldn't have been an issue, but in a converted theater, the center screen was just noticeably small.  A small screen is exactly the opposite of what I want when I go to a movie theater.  Now, in all fairness, its not like Barco Escape is the only specialty viewing experience that comes with handicaps.  With 3D films if you view the screen from too much of an angle the effect might be blurry, and sitting in the first three to five rows at an IMAX film makes the screen too big to really see anything.  The difference with those experiences is that only a small number of seats are affected by (what I'm going to call) their 'viewing handicap.' Barco Escape, on the other hand, seems to have a MAJOR viewing handicap for not just a few seats, but a vast majority of the theater!

There were only two times during "Star Trek Beyond" when the surrounding effect seemed to be working at 100% capacity, and they both involve the Enterprise flying in a curve, so there was no image distortion from the three screens.  To give the folks at Barco Escape some credit (as I'm sure I must seem like a villain to them at this point), when the effect did work, it was REALLY good!  If they can figure out how to make this more consistent and not as visually limiting, it could be a really fun experience for certain films.  As it stands though, if you want to watch this movie and feel immersed in everything, I have to suggest seeing a 3D screening of the film instead (probably not surprising coming from me).

Since this IS a 3D website I should mention that none of the Barco Escape theaters are showing "Star Trek Beyond" in 3D!  I'm not sure if they are capable of 3D projection, but it seems pretty obvious why they aren't doing this now.  Considering that 3D screens need to be centered perfectly to get the most out of the effect, putting 3D images on screens that will be viewed with side glances by the audience most likely won't work.  If it did, it would likely look terrible.  Maybe one day (should they care to) they will figure it out, but for the time being I wouldn't expect that to be a huge priority for the company.

To anyone at Barco Escape who might be reading this, I assure you that, despite how this must sound to you, I didn't completely hate my experience.  Sure, it didn't work very often and I think there are huge issues to work out.  But hey, 3D movies weren't that great at first, and look where they're at now.  Despite my miserable experience at this thing, the idea behind it intrigues me to no end.  Maybe if I attend one of the native theaters and have more than 30 minutes worth of footage to judge, I may like the experience more.  Like I said before: The concept intrigues me.  That said, because I am a film critic first, if readers want to see "Star Trek Beyond" in the best possible way and can only afford to do so once, then the IMAX 3D version is hands down the way to go.  It's immersive and consistent the entire two hours, where the Barco Escape version is a mixed bag.  I look forward to seeing where this format goes in the future though.