"Rouge One: A Star Wars Story" Is Coming to BluRay 3D...As a Retailer Exclusive

So the good news I have to report is that "Rogue One" is officially coming to BluRay 3D.  There is no waiting a full year later for this one, we'll be getting it right away.  Maybe this is Disney checking to see if a day-and-date release makes them more money than holding off on the release.  It may have sounded good on paper to hold off on releasing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 3D for a more elaborate special edition later on in, but the days of people double dipping on movies has largely passed us by, and maybe that decision cost Disney a few sales they would rather not lose again.  Or maybe they just don't care anymore.  Either way, we will have a 3D release on the first day.  The only catch is that it will be a retailer exclusive.  Alright, two retailers will carry it: Target and Best Buy.  Both have their own edition that is exclusive to their store, but I'm thinking the Target edition looks to be the nicer of the two (Best Buy is only offering a steelbook).

This is normally where the post would end, but isn't it interesting that there are two retailer exclusive titles that are including the 3D version?  During a time where 3D TV is all but dead?  If there is really no interest in the format, why are two stores fighting to have their own releases of it?  Could it be that there is still enough of a demand for 3D movies that there is...money to be made?  Nah!  That can't be right, they probably just paid extra for the heck of it! *ends sarcasm*


Why Is Universal Releasing "Sing" on BluRay 3D but Not "Trolls?"

A week or so ago I was happy to learn that Universal Pictures would be releasing Illumination's "Sing" on BluRay 3D.  It was yet another example of how good 3D could be when implemented properly, and the idea of being able to keep that experience at home came with much relief after Universal had opted out of released DreamWorks Animations "Trolls" on BluRay 3D that same week.  Once my happiness settled down I started to wonder why this was the case though?  Why does "Sing" get a 3D release but not "Trolls?"  In some ways, "Trolls" made better use of 3D.  It wasn't a better movie, but the visuals more than justified having a format that would preserve them properly.  Both animation studios are owned by NBC Universal (which is owned by Comcast I believe), yet one studio gets 3D releases and the other doesn't?  What gives?  Well, this is a theory of mine - and I want to stress I have no real proof - but I suspect Comcast bought DreamWorks Animation to dismantle it.

I know, that seems crazy, but I'm not the only one that suspects something is up.  DreamWorks Animation has been for sale several times.  Not because the studio consistently loses money (though they had a few underperformers in a row, they were picking up serious steam again), but because it would be a way to secure the future of the company.  Some Japanese company was up for buying them and then Hasbro entered negotiations before those fell through.  All the while I kept telling myself "I hope whoever buys them actually wants an animation studio."  I didn't know why I was saying this to myself at the time.  It was, as some would say, a "premonition of sorts."  I found my answer when it was announced that Comcast would be buying the studio.  At that point my heart sank.  I didn't know exactly why at the time, but I suspected that Comcast's interest in buying DreamWorks Animation had more to do with their franchises then it did their studio.

They wanted Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar (and the penguins that came along with it),  Kung fu Panda, and all those other popular characters.  Really, when you stop and think about how many memorable characters have come out of the house Katzenberg built, he really might have been the modern day Walt Disney (don't kill me for saying that, because I feel very similar about John Lasseter).  Some of those characters have brought in billions of dollars.  To have them as part of your cable services, theme parks, and television stations would be a huge boon to the company.  So, they bought them, for close to $4 billion dollars.  Here's the thing though: DreamWorks Animation don't make movies cheap.  In fact, they spend an average of $150 million per movie.  The average Illumination movie costs about $50 million to make.  So while Comcast got their franchises, they didn't really want the costs that came along with running the studio.

So, people have been laid off.  "Trolls" was released with minimal advertising and fanfare.  "The Croods 2" was cancelled.  These are signs of a parent company not interested in running a studio.  However, they do have some movies that are completed or near completion.  Obviously it would be a waste to scrap all that work, so they press forward, finishing up these last few projects.  I think that Comcast is intending to do is to finish off the remaining movies in production, burn them off slowly in theaters, and then have the company cease to make animated movies.  They will keep a staff to produce special effects for big budget movies from Hollywood, but animated movies will be made by Illumination exclusively from now on, who make even more family friendly animated movies at a fraction of the cost.  It makes me wonder if Katzenberg's announcement of "Shrek 5" days before he left the company was a way to insure the studio had work for at least a few years?

Now...how does this relate to "Trolls" not getting a BluRay 3D?  Because, honestly, I don't think Universal cares about the DreamWorks movies they have.  They will release them because they own them, but they aren't really interested in them.  They own them, but they own them as a result of someone dying and leaving them to the company in their will.  They didn't make these movies, so they don't belong to them.  So what if people can't buy "Trolls" in 3D?  Universal didn't make that movie, so what do they care?  But "Sing"...oh, that one Universal DID make, and they know how good the 3D version is, so they are going to make sure that people have the chance to buy that one in its preferred format.  Again, I can't prove any of this.  But when I look at how hard Universal is pushing "Despicable Me 3" in theaters with banners, cutouts, and large posters, and see how they seem to only half acknowledge "The Boss Baby," I think DreamWorks movies are orphaned kids who may have a home; they just don't have step parents that see them as anything other than a way to get a check from the government (in this case, people).

I hope I am ultimately wrong about all this, but all signs are pointing towards trouble in my book.


Can Hollywood Save 3D?

No long winding written editorial today.  Just a long winding YouTube video editorial.  We're going to be experimenting with doing more of these, and this is the first one.  Enjoy!


"Assassin's Creed" Confirmed for BluRay 3D

Shortly after the news that one of the best 3D experiences of the year wasn't coming to BluRay 3D, we get news that one of the worst 3D experiences of the year is.  Yep...that happens sometimes.  "Assassin's Creed" has been announced for BluRay 3D on 4/18.  The movie is also coming to 4K, but the two don't come packaged together, so you'll have to choose which version you want to get.  The 3D for this version is...well, I'm going to take a page from my review of the movie itself:

The film has such a dark, murky look to it that whether the audience is in the real world or the virtual reality world that has been invented for main character Callum Lunch (Michael Fassbender) to jump around in, they are bound to find the surroundings ugly and difficult to see.  Adding to the problem is a problematic 3D version that doesn’t take into account that the glasses can dim the screen even further, making it difficult to see anything at all during most of the movie (which mostly takes place in dark rooms, tunnels, and at nighttime).  If you are going to a movie and having a difficult time just seeing what is going on, then there’s a pretty good chance the film makers have completely missed the point of a visual storytelling experience.

So, yeah, that's how it is.  But hey, at least we have the choice to see the 3D version at all...right?  I mean, this is sort of a weird accomplishment.  I know movies are subjective, but it's getting really annoying to see all these terrible 3D movies get BluRay 3D releases while the really good ones get left on the side.  Obviously what is going to keep BluRay 3D's coming out are sales of disks, but when people don't buy movies like this are they contributing to the death of the format?  How can people be expected to buy such movies anyway though?  It's a subject I might have to delve into further down the road but, for now, if you like "Assassin's Creed," you can get it in 3D.  That seems like a dubious achievement to me personally, but whatever.


James Gunn to Marvel Fans: See "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" in 3D

With all the bad news 3D has been getting in terms of distribution, people keep telling me that everyone has given up on the format.  I am here to tell you that is not the case.  First of all, I'm still around, and while I may not be the most popular film critic of all time, I see value in 3D and will continue to push for the format (so long as it is actually being used properly and not just as a method to overcharge on tickets).  You know who else stands behind 3D?  Film directors.  Editors.  Cinematographers.  Glenn Kean can be seen in a video using virtual reality to do animation (and yes...that counts).  So, while TV manufacturers and theaters might be cooling on the idea of 3D, it is the artists who are still using 3D to tell great stories.  Some artists admit that they've tried 3D and, you know what, it just wasn't for them.  And that's fine!  Really.  Just because one artist is good at painting doesn't mean everyone has to be.  Some are better at sculpting.

That said, there are tons of film directors out there, with many claiming that they love 3D and what it can do for their movies.  Robert Zemeckis has immersed himself in the 3D format, with only two of his films in the last ten years being 2D (those were "Flight" and "Allied"...movies that might not have benefited from the format anyway).  Steven Spielberg likes 3D but is taking it on a case-by-case basis.  Peter Jackson wants to go back and reformat his older movies into 3D (I've got mixed feelings about that which will be addressed in a future post).  James Cameron is obviously for the format, and Ang Lee made a 3D movie so ambitious most theaters didn't know what to do with it.  Now, these are all giants in the film industry, but there are small directors who are also in love with the format.  One of them is James Gunn.  His might not be a household name, but he did direct "Guardians of the Galaxy," which is cited by many to be one of the best Marvel movies out there.

Well, he's returning for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," and he went to Twitter to revel what aspect of the movie he is currently working on:

So, there are a few things to take from this.  First, the movie is not filmed in native 3D (disappointing but not surprising).  Second, the conversion is coming along great and looks better than Gunn could have possibly hoped.  Third, the 3D version is the one he recommends.  Forth, see it IMAX.  I could be wrong, but this might possibly be the biggest shout out for 3D from a Hollywood figure I've heard in a long time.  Gunn is pouring over this movie and likely knows every frame of it very well (frame is still a term, right?).  I don't know what inspired him to make this tweet.  He could be concerned that the 3D version will get ignored because of all the recent news or maybe he just liked the way the movie was looking so much he decided to tell us about it.  What is clear is that he believes the 3D version is the way to see his movie.  He likes the effect it has.  He is an artist working on a movie and he has come up with a look that he is proud of (and he has every right to feel that way whether it ends up being good or bad).

Yes folks, the news on 3D is discouraging these days.  Sony and LG dropping production of the 3D TV's (whether that is temporary or permanent remains to be seen) was a huge blow.  IMAX not showing "The LEGO Batman Movie" in 3D despite being very capable of doing so hurts.  "Trolls" getting shunned on BluRay 3D hurts.  But I write this post to remind you that while there are number crunchers out there that say 3D won't work, there are artists out there who say it can.  There are artists that are going to use the tools they have at hand to make the movies they want.  Remember, this whole explosion of the format really took off because of "Avatar," and the reason was because James Cameron made a movie where it really shined and caught peoples imaginations.  That was one artist.  Will "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" have the same effect?  Unlikely, but it is still being made by an artist. 

Artists will continue to make 3D movies because they like the way the format makes their art look.  They like the way it makes their art feel.  Eventually, people will want to see that art in an uncompromised format.  The distributors will then have to find a way to deliver that content to them.  3D may be slowing but there is a reason this format keeps coming back.  Who knows how many times it will have to slow down before it picks up speed again, but it always picks up speed.  One of these days the traction won't go away, and then this blog will no long be needed.  Until then, keep fighting the good fight!


"Monster Trucks" Gets Home Media Annoucement Without 3D Version

"Monster Trucks" has been dated and detailed for BluRay and UltraHD BluRay.  What is missing, obviously, is a BluRay 3D release.  No reason was given why, though I suspect this is a movie Paramount Pictures would love to just have off their hands in the first place.  With a $125 million dollar price tag, the studio took a write-down on the thing before it even hit theaters.  It did better at the box office than anyone suspected, but it still lost a ton of money.  For me it's an early contender for the worst film of the year.  I did see the movie in 3D and this is one of the rare times you truly won't be missing anything if you see it in 2D.  The 3D was just tacked on (as Paramount is known to do sometimes), and most of the time the effects were negligible at best.  Also, you wouldn't be missing much if you skipped the film altogether.  So, in the end, I'm not sure if this is a loss or not.  Even if 3D TV's were still coming out this year I don't think it would be worth Paramount's time to release the movie in 3D.  Of course, if they did combo packs properly in the first place, this wouldn't be an issue at all.


DreamWorks Animation Out of the 3D Game?

I write this post with much resentment and sadness, but it turns out that DreamWorks "Trolls" hit BluRay yesterday without a BluRay 3D version.  Despite being announced to have one, no retailer (including Amazon) is selling the movie in 3D, and since this was far from one of the biggest hits of the year, there is very little chance of us getting one.  Now, this one pains me more than most to have to report.  Not because "Trolls" was an especially good movie or anything.  But rather because when it comes to 3D, DreamWorks Animation has been producing some of the best 3D content out of all the studios.  They really have taken the format and turned it into an art with pretty much every movie they've released.  "Trolls" was no exception, and I admit that I was going to buy it on the sheer basis that I wanted to watch a few of the scenes in its glorious 3D images.  Looks like there will be no revisiting of those images, and I'll just have to hold them close in my memory.

This does beg the question though of why this is?  Is it the recent announcement that LG and Sony are out of the 3D TV market?  Is it the fact that Jeffery Katzenburg, one of the biggest fans of 3D entertainment, is no longer at the company?  Or is it that after the Comcast buyout, DreamWorks Animation might not even be making movies much longer anyway, and that parent company Universal just wants to unload the remaining movies as cheaply as possible?  Who knows what it is.  I mean, the first COULD be the reason, but why would Universal still have a BluRay 3D of "Sing" coming out?  Or is that going to be cancelled as well?  Look, I'm not ignorant when I say I know there's a good chance BluRay 3D's might quietly be cancelled from this point on.  If no more 3D TV's are in production, why release disks that have a maximum value?  The thing is, we still don't know if 4K is really going to save the TV market like the businesses say it will (they said the same thing about 3D after all).

We have no idea if the feature will be put back in when enough people ask for it (and I sense there are people who at least want it as a feature if nothing else).  3D TV's are still being produced for the Chinese and European markets, so why not make it available for them?  They produced a UltraHD BluRay for the movie, so why couldn't they just thrown the disk in that package since people are already paying a lot for it in the first place?  Universal is sort of puzzling me on the BluRay 3D releases because they still produce them for certain movies, but not others.  Maybe it's a box office thing?  Who knows.  All I know is that until a final decision is made about the future of DreamWorks Animation, they still produce some of the best 3D content out there.  They produce content that look significantly less impressive in 2D, so to not release "Trolls" in 3D is insulting.  There is also no import or Vudu stream available for this.  I mean, come on Universal, I know it wasn't the biggest hit of the year, but unlike "Sing" at least it's nominated for an Academy Award.