IMAX Ditches "Justice League" in Favor of Re-runs of "Dunkirk" and "The Polar Express"

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Whatever hopes you had for "Justice League" being a huge success, I would put those desires on hold for a very, very long time as the movie is more than a certified flop at this point.  It went on to break records for the lowest grossing release of the entire DC Extended Universe.  The movies as they stand are currently dead and there is virtually no hope of the thing being salvaged at this point.  "Justice League" is going to do to superhero movies at Warner Bros. what "Batman & Robin" did for that franchise: Stop it dead in its tracks while the studio takes a break from it and reevaluates what to do ten years down the road.  I know this isn't how people wanted things to turn out.  Fans wanted a good movie.  The studio wanted a profitable franchise.  IMAX wanted a movie with enough legs that it could carry through the holiday season until "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" dropped.

In short, everyone got screwed here, and there are no winners, only losers.

While there have been countless articles highlighting the failures of the movie, we're going to focus on the fact that IMAX got stuck with a movie that didn't sell tickets.  Most of the theaters were played to empty screenings.  There is no possible way the company can hope to keep this around for three more weeks.  So, many theaters will be getting rid of it.  Theaters that are equipped to show 70mm movies will (ironically) be bringing Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" for an undetermined amount of time.  Many IMAX's will be going back to 2004 and reviving "The Polar Express" for the holidays (easily one of 3D's biggest cinema success stories).  While there has been no announcement, don't be surprised if "Thor: Ragnorok" makes a surprise come back as well.  This, just goes to show, not to put too many eggs in one basket, because the basket may break and crack your eggs.

Now, I'm typing this story for two reasons.  The first is that it is always nice to see "The Polar Express" return to IMAX 3D.  I've seen this movie on the really big screen almost every year for the last decade and a half, and I even have watched the BluRay 3D a few times.  Despite "Avatar" getting all the credit, it was really "The Polar Express" which showed how good and successful 3D films could be, as the film opened to low box office, only to have IMAX 3D showings being sold out on a daily basis.  The other reason I'm reporting on this is because this is another spectacular failure for IMAX in their '2D only' policy, and if it hasn't been made clear yet that scrapping the 3D doesn't result in more ticket sales yet, then I honestly don't know what will.  Now, I have to stress again that the 3D version wasn't a whole lot better this time around, and I have heard rumblings that Joss Whedon simply felt the 2D version was better (for whatever THAT'S worth to the fans...).

Also, this movie didn't make money in either format, so it's not like having the 3D would have resulted in more ticket sales either.  The point (again) is that IMAX saw sagging ticket sales, looked at "Dunkirk's" success, and deemed that it was probably because the movie was in 2D that it did so well (completely ignoring the 3D successes of "Beauty & the Beast," "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," and "Spider-Man: Homecoming").  "Dunkirk" did well in IMAX because it was shot with 70mm IMAX cameras and was a good movie.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I took personal issue with IMAX throwing 3D under the bus when they had 3D movies that were actually bigger successes than "Dunkirk."  "Justice League" did not sell tickets even though it was only showing in 2D.  Heck, the only way it might have done well is if it was an excellent movie (although...).  Truthfully, I think IMAX should take a hard look at what they are replacing it with: Movies that take full advantage of the giant screen and the formats with which they were filmed in.

In the new year I will begin a series of articles about what IMAX's strengths were, how they lost sight of their ultimate goal, what their problems are, and what they can do to fix them going forward.  In the meantime...I'm going to enjoy taking my niece to see "The Polar Express" for the first time!


James Cameron's "Titanic" to Return to AMC Dolby and 3D December 1

This is more of a brief update, but James Cameron has had a surprise announcement that for a couple weeks only (and exclusively at AMC Theaters) you will be able to see "Titanic" in theaters.  The movie won 11 Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director) and is one of my personal favorite films.  I've seen it three times in theaters: Once during it's initial release, again at a classic screening, and the third time in IMAX 3D.  The movie is magnificent regardless how you view it.  AMC is mainly pushing their Dolby Cinema screens they've been installing, but a few of them WILL project the movie in 3D!  Even though this is widely available on BluRay 3D, for those who might not have had the chance to see it in theaters in this format, now is your chance.


Checking Out "Cars 3" European Only BluRay 3D Release

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I've got a few real articles to post in the next few days, but in the meantime I DID import "Cars 3" on BluRay 3D in a collectible steelbook edition from Zavii!  Most of the information of this release is in the video, but for those want to know upfront: Yes, it WILL work on American BluRay players!  I decided to test it out on my Xbox One...and then ended up watching the whole movie because it actually is a genuinely good movie.  If you want I'll start showing off import BluRay 3D's more often with information on whether or not they work on American players, but for the time being this will have to do.


Should You See "Justice League" in RealD 3D or IMAX 2D?

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Here we go again.  I didn't think I would be writing an article like this again so soon after I wrote extensively about "Blade Runner 2049," but it appears that if you are a fan of 3D movies and IMAX movies, you have a choice to make if you want to see "Justice League."  Now, personally, I don't think the movie is worth seeing in any format.  Like, really, truly not worth seeing in any format.  That said, I know there are many of you reading this that DO want to see it, and want to know whether it is worth seeing in RealD 3D or IMAX 2D!  Unlike last time we went through this, I actually managed to see the movie in both formats in the last few days, so I think I can properly judge which version is the best.  And before we continue I need to stress this: I saw "Justice League" TWICE within three days so I could do this comparison 'justice,' so don't let my pain go to waste!

Okay?  Ok...

Unlike "Blade Runner 2049," director Zach Snyder ways always shooting "Justice League" to be a 3D movie.  Granted, he was filming in 2D with the intention of upconversion later on, but he was still framing certain shots knowing that they would have a third dimension down the road.  However, tragedy struck when his daughter committed suicide, and suddenly making a dark superhero movie wasn't a top priority anymore, and so he stepped down as director, and Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film.  It should be noted that for Synder this was absolutely the right thing to do and I don't fault him one bit for it.  That is a bit of a wake up call, and if it comes down to family and a movie...you pick family every single time.  That said, when Whedon came onboard there was no way he could really know what Synder was going for, and from all accounts the studio heads weren't impressed with the film as it was coming along anyway, and tasked Whedon with retooling it.

Though Synder still receives sole directing credit, apparently Whedon changed a LOT of what was originally there, wrote new scenes, and even cut whole characters out of the movie!  He added more color.  Also, he wasn't shooting with 3D in mind.  And even if he was there was only a small chance that it would match with Snyder's vision.  That means, when you watch the movie in general, the film is a visual and tonal mess.  It is almost fascinating to watch because you can very clearly tell what scenes are Synder scenes and what scenes are Whedon scenes.  You can feel the differences from sequence to sequence, and there is almost no consistency to the final project.  This, I'm sorry to say, extends to the 3D version.  Watching "Justice League" in 3D is frustrating as it is WILDLY inconsistent in quality!  There are scenes when the 3D is popping and everything is working as it should, reminding us of how good 3D can be.

Then you have...the other scenes.  The "other" scenes is where the 3D is jerky, ghosty, and in some cases down right flat looking.  These scenes may be the worst 3D I've seen in a LONG time!  It's "The Last Airbender" and "Clash of the Titans" level of bad!  It is very, very discouraging to see the transfer get as bad as it does at times.  Also, I guess I should note, that even when the 3D is good, it isn't that good.  It's good enough to pass with two action sequences being of especially high quality, but otherwise there isn't much to write home about.  So, while the RealD 3D version of "Justice League" is far from a total wash, it is inconsistent enough to make seeing it in IMAX 2D the preferred option.  Seeing that Warner Bros. is one of the few companies still releasing BluRay 3D's (minus "Blade Runner 2049" of course), I'm hoping they will fix the 3D to be more viewable at home, but we'll just have to wait and see. 

The only thing that doesn't make this a black and white situation is that whether you are watching a good 2D version and a sometimes good/sometimes bad 3D version, the bottom line is you're still seeing "Justice League."  Unlike "Blade Runner 2049," this isn't a movie worth seeing in either format, and it's not like either one really helps or hurts the movie anymore than it already does.  So I think the question of this post is sort of moot when you get down to it.  Whether you see something in 3D or 2D I think we can all agree you want that movie to be good.  And - seeing that MoviePass isn't going to get you into either of these premium formats anyway - it might just be worth passing this one up altogether and save your money for what is surely going to be a far superior theatrical experience in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."  If you must see this I guess I sort of lean towards IMAX 2D, but the 3D version has enough good moments that neither is a total waste.


IMAX Scraps 3D Version of "Justice League"

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My earlier suspicions were correct: IMAX has scrapped the 3D release of "Justice League."  Early posters for the movie proudly touted the movie as being an IMAX 3D release...only to slowly get away from that claim and just being advertised as being "in IMAX."  Though this may not be the final listing, so far...

...NO ticket pre-orders are selling any showings of the movie that are in 3D, which means its pretty unlikely there will be any when the time comes!  This contributes more to the notion that IMAX is getting out of the 3D game, but it should be noted this seems like an exception to the rule rather than the norm.  Right now "Thor: Ragnorok" is playing in IMAX theaters with 2D and 3D showings being split pretty much down the middle.  "Geostorm" was shown completely in 3D regardless where it played.  "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will have some 2D showings, however the vast majority will be in 3D.  Which means, since making the original announcement, "Justice League" will be only the SECOND release to ditch 3D from a movie that has a 3D version available (the first being "Blade Runner 2049" of course).

What is odd about this movie is that originally it was being directed by Zach Snyder, who stepped away from the project after his daughter tragically committed suicide (and my thoughts and prayers are still with him).  Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film, but in the process has apparently restructured the film, has written lots of new scenes, cut Lex Luthor from the film, and has made the movie more humorous and colorful.  From many accounts, it is now more Whedon's film than Snyder's.  Why do I mention this?  Because while Snyder was making a movie that he knew was going to be converted to 3D, Whedon might not have been.  Granted, he HAS directed 3D films before ("The Avengers" and "The Avengers: Age of Ultron"), but he might have been too busy fixing the movie to worry about how it was going to be presented in 3D!  Warner Bros. does have a conversion in the can, but it might not compliment the scenes Whedon has directed, and it's entirely possible the director told IMAX not to bother projecting the it that was as a result.

Or, maybe, "Thor: Ragnorok" really did sell more 2D tickets than 3D.  Look, it's entirely possible.  I personally think that if you did that you made a mistake because the 3D in that movie was extremely well done and immersive, and it reminded me why I loved 3D movies so much.  There's no solid numbers on that though, so...I can't comment on it.  Right now I'm thinking the lack of an IMAX 3D release has more to do with changing directors than anything.  However, I will do my due diligence and see the movie in both formats and give you my two cents on them, and which one you should see.


Where Has the Discussion of "Thor: Ragnorok" Been? (UPDATE: Strikes Over)

It's amazing how fast a situation can turn around.  I wanted to write about the Disney boycott of journalism, but didn't have time to write a proper piece this morning.  I filmed this quick YouTube video sharing my thoughts on the matter with the intention of elaborating later on.  Now the video will serve as a prequel to my thoughts on the situation now that Disney has 'unbanned' the Los Angeles Times from future movie screenings.

So that was this morning.  What's the current status of the boycott?  Well, Disney has officially decided to de-blacklist the LA Times.  In an announcement this afternoon they stated:

We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at the Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.

Alright, so...that's the end of discussion right?  The LA Times can go to Disney movies again, critics pledged a boycott until the decision was publicly rescinded, so everything's cool right?  In my mind, no, things are not alright.  It would have been one thing if Disney publicly apologized for being a bully.  It would have spoken volumes if Bob Iger admitted he crossed a line and pledged not to do so again.  Instead, Disney simply claimed that they discussed their concerns with "new leadership" and have agreed to restore their access to movies.  Really...that's it?  Alright, let's discuss two major problems with this statement.  The first is that I was unaware that there was "new leadership" at the LA Times.  What does that even mean?  Are they talking about management?  I mean, there COULD be new managers...but considering the paper is without controversy except this one issue (with which they have had overwhelming support) it seems odd that the paper would have to shake up management at all!

Personally, I want the LA Times to personally confirm this is true and who the new bosses/leaders/writers even are.  The second problem I have is even if this is true, then the reasons for Disney lifting their ban are actually far, FAR worse!  It gives off the impression that Disney got their way in the end.  They got old bosses/leaders/writers fired (for what appears to have been accurate reporting), new people got installed, Disney lawyers told them what's what, and THEN they agreed to let them back into their movies!  This doesn't bother anyone?  Not one?  I mean, for the record, I think the Disney's explanation is total bullshit (sorry mom, I could be in legal trouble if I use the nicer word...seriously).  I don't believe the LA Times has new faces overseeing the business.  I don't believe the LA Times agreed with any of Disney's assertions (the lack of retraction speaks volumes in that area).  I believe Disney realized this was an unwinnable battle and a potential public relations disaster.

They have awards to win.  They have Star Wars to push.  They have a Best Animated Feature Oscar that they have had a monopoly on for YEARS (and they sure as heck aren't giving it up to "Loving Vincent" or "A Silent Voice")!  The critics weren't going to back down and in doing so became supported in ways they hadn't been for a long time.  Dare I say it, the critics were even relevant for the first time in years these past few days.  They had no reason to back down.  That wouldn't be a big deal for Disney in and of itself though.  What really did it was that the critics guilds jointly disqualified Disney's films, thus cutting out the first phase in what award bloggers refer to as "The Whisper Campaign," and not having that could cost movies like "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," "Coco," "Queen of Katwe," and the various Marvel movies early ammo for the big awards.  Also, what if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided to join the boycott?  They support free press and (more importantly) run the highly successful (for some reason) Golden Globe Awards.  A shut out there could be devastating, so Disney likely didn't want it to get to that point.

They couldn't just admit any wrong doing though.  That would look bad on the company and Iger (who is considering a presidential run when his contract with Disney expires in 2019), so this (likely) bullshit story about new management was created and the ban was lifted, and Disney is hoping things go back to normal.  What's concerning is that if some articles are to be believed, the critics won this round.  I can say with safety and a straight face they did not.  If the critics and the guilds let Disney enter the awards race they have lost.  Disney still walked over everyone, tried to destroy the ethnics of journalism, and got to make up their own story and walk away scot free.  You can write your own happy ending in the movies, but this is real life, and Disney can't be allowed to do that.  I believe the shutout from awards needs to stand (and be expanded to bigger awards, if necessary).  The story that the LA Times has new leadership needs to be confirmed or denied in detail.  If it's true, Disney AND the Times needs to be held to the fire as these "discussions" could be a HUGE conflict of interest in the industry!

If the story of the times getting new management is not true, Disney needs to be publically questioned for slander.  In any scenario the Mouse owes the industry and apology that at least sounds sincere.  Otherwise there is no lesson learned, and the company will go back to their bullying ways and revisionist history.  I suppose we'll just have to wait and see how this plays out, but in my eyes the story isn't over by a longshot.  If it is then it will be the most depressing cop out in journalism I've seen in a long time.