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.