Is "Blade Runner 2049" Worth Seeing in RealD 3D or IMAX 2D?

Alright, I know a lot of you have been wondering where I've been and I'll just state this now: Never get writer's block.  With that out of the way, tonight we will have our first screenings of "Blade Runner 2049," which is being shown in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 2D.  This is IMAX's first public war with 3D.  They fired some warning shots earlier in the year with "The LEGO Batman Movie," "Cars 3," "Despicable Me 3," and "War of the Planet of the Apes."  When it came to THIS movie though, the CEO of IMAX made it very clear that audiences preferred 2D films over 3D, cited "Dunkirk" as their key example, and bragged that "Blade Runner 2049" would be shown in 2D only!

As you can guess, I wasn't impressed with these statements.

Now, "Blade Runner 2049" is put in an unfortunate position of being a movie that IMAX is using to play an elaborate game of chicken with their audiences.  The thing is, by using the movie as a scapegoat to get rid of 3D, IMAX has ignored a potentially bigger issue that (as serious fans of 3D and movies in general) we need to be discussing: That director Denis Villeneuve doesn't want the movie to see seen in 3D.  He filmed it in 2D and always intended to be seen in 2D.  He hasn't made any statements himself, but his cinematographer Roger Deakins (whose work is pretty fantastic if you ask me) has admitted in interviews that the 3D post-conversion was a job done by the studios, and that 2D is the way to view the film.  On a discussion forum on is official website he was prodded by anxious movie goers and asked what he thought of the 3D conversion.

At first he jokingly plead the fifth, before elaborating a little bit more.  He confirmed that, yes, he WAS involved in the 3D conversion process!  He confirmed that, yes, it looks competent.  Finally, he confirmed that, no, he doesn't think too highly of 3D (and this conversion looked as good as it could knowing that its not supposed to look this way).  Now, this is where I maybe have to take some responsibility because I have been critical of IMAX for throwing 3D under the bus to explain sagging ticket sales.  I mean, it's true, but when they announced that "Blade Runner 2049" was going to be released in 2D only I got out my pitchfork and planned for a full boycott of the movie in IMAX, being unaware of the fact that both the director AND cinematographer are apparently not happy with how this 3D version turned out!

While George Miller was more than happy to convert "Mad Max: Fury Road" into 3D because of the effect it added to the movie, apparently Deakins and Villeneuve feel the 3D effect hurts "Blade Runner 2049" more than it helps.  This puts me in an interesting position because of how IMAX has sold this release.  3D fans are justifiably pissed because the company has made it sound like buying a ticket for this movie is a vote AGAINST 3D in the future!  On the other hand, we have film creators who are in the corner telling us that they would honestly prefer we see the movie in 2D.  By all accounts, that means that the IMAX release of "Blade Runner 2049" is the best way to see the movie, as it is on a larger than life screen with 26% more image to show.  Yet IMAX has positioned it where fans of 3D don't want to see the movie in the best possible way because they are afraid they will be voting against seeing "Justice League" in IMAX 3D.

Personally...I'm going to do my homework and see the film both in 3D AND in IMAX 2D!  I'll see it in IMAX first, but I will make it a point to see it again in 3D.  Should my writers block be gone by then (I don't know if you can tell, but I'm still struggling at the moment), I will report what I think of the two different visual experiences, and which format I ultimately liked better.  If you should take one thing away from this article its this: "Blade Runner 2049" in 2D was always the preferred way to view this movie, and by using the film as a political reason to scale back on 3D in the future, IMAX has likely scared away people from buying tickets to see the movie simply because they didn't communicate this with people.  In a way, by emphasizing stock over the film makers vision, they made far more enemies than they needed to.

Update: For those who want to know my final verdict on the 3D version of "Blade Runner 2049," I have written a follow-up article here!


  1. I don't know anybody that's a fan of 3d. The gimmick isn't worth the uncomfortable glasses or the (often) reduced picture quality. Are there really that many "3d fans"? I can't think of one instance of someone truly enjoying a 3d version of a movie.

  1. They exist. My blog statistics are a testament to that. Also, Best Buy got flooded with angry complaints about lack of availability of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" on BluRay 3D. And Zavii has seen an uptake in imports for BluRay 3D's that don't get released in America. And most movies make roughly 20% of their opening box office in 3D, so clearly there IS demand for the format! Also, this article is one of my most read in the past couple months, which means people are certainly interested in which version they should see.

  1. vladvamp said...:

    So what is the follow up? 2D or 3D, I am considering watching it the third time and will be trying RealD 3D.

  1. vulcanmario said...:

    Well, I am, for one. I've seen quite a few movies in both formats and with few exceptions I prefer the 3D presentations. The only ones I can think of where I liked the 2D more were post-conversions that came out during the early 3D boom before they really had it down to a science(like the first Captain America). And in many cases the picture quality is actually better! I saw Wonder Woman two days in a row on the same exact screen, once in 2D and once in 3D, and the 3D picture actually had much better image clarity, especially in dark scenes. And to be clear, it wasn't just that location. I saw it five times total in four different theaters and the two 3D showings had much better detail in the darker scenes. It could be that the studio decided to boost the brightness/gamma in the DCP to compensate for the glasses though... well it worked! idk.

  1. The follow up will be published tomorrow. I had some family stuff to deal with, but I did eventually get it written. Thanks for reading!

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