"Mowgli's" Lackluster Release Prove's Netflix's Distribution Model is Broken


Dear readers, I have to admit to a mistake a made in a recent blog post: "Mowgli" WAS, in fact, given a limited 3D theatrical release by Netflix that ended last Thursday!  I'm not proud of the fact that I missed this fact.  I probably missed it because I was off in Las Vegas getting engaged, and searching for a 3D release of a film Netflix sprung on me at pretty much the last minute was not something I was keen to keep an eye out for.  I noticed it in time that I could have seen it, but it would have coincided with a birthday get together to see "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" in IMAX 3D.  Although I certainly had more time to watch the latter in theaters and missed on my one opportunity to see the former, I think I made the better choice in the long run.

"Mowgli" has been getting unkind reviews by critics and audiences alike, with some even using it as a poster child for why we need to get away from remaking classic stories into gritty modern films.  Despite wanting to see it for myself, I suppose I will have to resign myself to the fact that I may just have to wait for a BluRay 3D release from Warner Bros. (which, if such a release happens, I will buy on principle).  Still, even if the movie wasn't worth seeing in any format, it still annoys me that Netflix thought so little of it that they basically dumped it without any fanfare.  If you saw this thing in theaters, you were paying attention more than most, as it was extremely difficult to pin this film down (and this is from someone who managed to track down "Billionaire Boys Club" and see it in theaters).

While this could be seen as a disappointment for 3D fans who are likely not going to be seeing one of the years best 3D experiences on the big screen (if at all), it is also a symptom of what is wrong with Netflix's distribution model overall.  Yes, they made a splash when they premiered shows and movies onto Netflix without first going through the traditional TV or theater channels.  Yes, it was a novel idea at one point that a major motion picture like "Death Note" and "The Cloverfield Paradox" would be available to view without having to pay for a movie ticket.  Dropping a whole season of "Daredevil" at once was really cool.  I remember marking my calendar to watch those things on day one.  Now, streaming has become this disposable thing.  Whether it is a great movie like "Roma" or an average movie like "The Christmas Chronicles," they all have the same value to audiences: $0.00

What's more, these movies are no longer 'events' the way they used to be; they come, they go, they get lost in a sea of movies that only have a postage sized stamp to advertise they are there.  For that matter, what is the difference between a big budget spectacle like "Bright" and the new Coen Brothers film?  Yeah, one of those movies is SIGNIFICANTLY better in terms of overall quality, but how do audiences know that when the price of admission (and the amount Netflix is willing to push it) is the same?!  Heck, what does Netflix even have to gain from promoting their original movies when they don't bring in any money?  Do these convince people to keep their Netflix subscriptions?  I don't know a single person who felt that an original movie like "Mowgli" was something to factor in when deciding to keep their Netflix accounts, but you can sure bet "Friends" leaving the service got people upset.

So much so, that Netflix was quick to shell out $100 million to keep the series for a couple more years.  That show is still popular because it spent years getting people attached to it, and thus people get upset when it almost went away.  If it does go, you can still get the series on DVD and BluRay, which makes that show powerful.  I can't think of a single Netflix show or movie that has this kind of pull.  Not "Mudbound."  Not "Orange is the New Black.'  Not "House of Cards."  Maybe "Daredevil," but they got into a pissing match with Disney and cancelled all their Marvel shows, so so much for that helping at this point.  The point is, Netflix needs movies like "Mowgli" to be in theaters.  They need them to be on disc.  They need Netflix to be a brand that is known for making quality movies, not just delivering content in a cheap and convenient way.

That means embracing movie theaters.  That means physical media.  Even Amazon and YouTube realized this.  Amazon releases all their stuff in theaters because they want it to be taken seriously.  For that matter, YouTube Red was itching for a hit, and decided to hold a theatrical premier for the first two episodes of "Cobra Kai," the one show on their platform that can be pointed to as a genuine success.  Thankfully, Netflix does have the chance to get out of their bubble as they prepare for a small theatrical release of Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," which is set to premier next year.  Hopefully it will be an experience that shows that making people pay for something and getting attached to it BEFORE giving it away for free yields as many rewards as disrupting the industry!


Most Upcoming IMAX Releases are in 3D (Will it Last?)


I’ve written about it before, but it needs to be stated again: IMAX’s experiment with 2D only films is a complete failure.  Screening films only in 2D did not result in better ticket sales (as was the case with “Blade Runner 2049” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”).  Neither did only providing a 3D experience hurt ticket sales (see “Beauty & the Beast” and “Venom”).  The only thing that determines whether or not a movie sells a lot of tickets is people’s interest in the film itself.  The format will not dictate anything in terms of sales.  So much so, that I still believe if Disney made a bold move and released “Avengers: Infinity War” in 3D only for the first two weeks, it would have had minimal impact on the films box office prospects.  I’m not actually asking for that to happen (I don’t believe in forcing people to watch 3D films anymore than I like being told I am more interested in 2D films), but I believe watching IMAX’s ticket sales rise and fall on the sole basis of whether or not people want to see the movie in the first place is both a blessing and a curse for fans of the 3D format.

It is a blessing because it shows that a 3D release will not hurt a film, no matter how much the movie sucks.  Where it harms the format is that it also shows that the movie will not be helped much by 3D, because the criteria of whether or not it makes money is based solely on whether or not people want to see it.  3D isn’t dragging the business down, but it’s not pulling its weight either.  For many it exists just to exist, and that’s not where you want things to be.  Never-the-less, the fact that 2D only releases have not saved IMAX from sagging ticket sales is a blessing in the sense that the company is largely going back to releasing movies in 3D for the foreseeable future.  We’ll see if this sticks; the company flip flops on the issue every few months it seems.  “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” were screening pretty much exclusively in 2D in IMAX’s (the latter of which is a shame, as that movie used 3D to some of the best effect I’ve seen all year), but the upcoming “Mortal City” and “Aquaman” appear to be scheduled for all 3D screenings in most IMAX’s.

The recently added “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” will also show up in IMAX 3D (though this one will have half of its showings in 2D as well).  What’s most disappointing and strange in all of this is that of the three movies, I’m only convinced “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” will do any sort of good business.  The other two movies are likely to get smoked at the box office, because competition is going to be fierce, and tracking shows that the general public aren’t into these movies much.  For that matter, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “The Grinch” has been switching back and forth in claiming the number one (and two) spot(s) at the box office for weeks now, yet neither movie showed in IMAX with their (natural) 3D formats.  It’s almost as if IMAX as a company is largely keeping the 3D for movies that aren’t successful on a financial level while releasing the box office hits in 2D only format.  Of course, this isn’t completely the case: ‘The Crimes of Grindlewald’ petered out quickly and “Venom” was a big hit despite itself.

The bottom line is you never know what will be a hit or what won’t be.  You also can’t assume that just because IMAX is passing on a 3D version of a movie, that that means the 3D version is bad.  The sad reality is I don’t think IMAX knows what they’re doing in this case.  Their stock is falling (trust me: I own some) and there’s not a lot to suggest it will turn around anytime soon.  IMAX is the one theater chain that plays the most guessing games with their movie’s formats.  This is because most theaters only have one IMAX screen, but I wish the company would play fair a little bit more.  Present the movie in the best format possible.  Don’t make guesses on how audiences will react to a movie based on whether or not its in 3D or not.  Or just keep the 3D, since most theaters ARE putting it on the back burner, and that makes the IMAX screenings stand out more!  Whatever they decide, it would be best to decide on some consistency, lest this game of whack-a-mole eventually result in more misses than hits.


Netflix Drops "Mowgli" in Theaters Unannounced and WITHOUT the 3D Version!


Hey everyone, sorry for the late post.  I know, I know, it's been...three months since my last post.  I've been working on other projects and felt that this blog wasn't worth updating anymore.  3D is pretty much on the decline and it's pretty obvious that it's not making a comeback in homes anytime soon.  I was wondering if there was even a  point to complaining about any of this anymore.  I thought it was probably time to throw in the towel and admit defeat.  Then, I discovered something pretty much by accident, that made me realize that even if the fight is a futile one, it doesn't mean I can't talk about it.  So what was the event that got me to get off my butt and update this blog again?

Answer: Netflix has dropped "Mowgli" into movie theaters this weekend.

Seriously, they did.  The film (now titled "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle") was released unannounced and unexpectedly into theaters on November 29th, with a planned Netflix release on December 7th (three days before my birthday).  Seriously, here's the trailer:

If this has you confused, it may be because the last time I wrote about this I announced that Warner Bros. had sold the movie rights to the streaming giant and that the winter wide release was cancelled.  Now, it should be noted that this choice made me skeptical of the movie in general.  After all, when Paramount did this with "The Cloverfield Paradox," it was done in secret, with Netflix announcing during the Super Bowl that the movie would be available to stream immediately after the game.  You can bet that was a big enough deal to get me to stream it right away.  Turns out, the reason for the surprise release was because the movie just wasn't very good.  When I heard Warner Bros. didn't even want to try and recoup their money at the box office (after spending more than $150 million on it) I was wondering what kind of turd we had on our hands.  What made the choice to sell it to Netflix painful is that director Andy Serkis (who most people will know as the actor who played Golum and Cesar the Ape) was planning for this to be an epic 3D event.

He was planning for this so much that whenever people asked him about it, he made it a point to tell them to see it in 3D.  It was the only way to truly experience his vision.  Netflix has never done anything for 3D before (see how "The Little Prince" fans got ripped off when they premiered the movie straight to streaming), and seeing a big budget movie on a TV screen first is going to compromise even a 2D movie.  However, Netflix promised they had taken this into account.  They bragged about how the movie was going to be released in March of next year so that people would be well aware of it.  They insisted that an IMAX 3D release was coming so that people could see Serkis vision "as he intended it to be seen."  They promised they would treat the film with respect.  Now, before we continue, I need to be honest about my conflicted feelings about Netflix (and take a moment to note that I did do some consulting work with them for a period of time): I don't feel they are destroying movies, but I do feel like they are cheapening them.

On one hand, their commitment to unique projects is commendable.  If not for them movies such as "Beasts of No Nation," "Okja," and Guillermo del Toro's upcoming "Pinocchio" adaptation would have NEVER gotten made!  Heck, when studios balked at giving Martin Scorsese of all people $80 million to get his passion project "The Irishman" made, Netflix swopped in and saved the project, and it is one of my most anticipated movies of next year.  The problem I see is that they are only making them for streaming.  These movies are still going to be better on the big screen, a smaller screen does make them feel more like made-for-TV specials, and the fact that it is part of a buffet sends a strong message that they are no more or less special than anything else out there.  That first aspect probably bothers me most as I would have loved to see "Death Note" and "Okja" in theaters.  Yeah, I know there are limited theatrical releases for most of their movies, but most theaters won't touch them because why pay for something that is going to basically be free in a week or two?  Even Amazon knows the value of a theatrical release, and they're making movies for their Amazon Prime service.

The reason the surprise release of "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle" pissed me off so much (enough for me to come back to a blog I'd all but abandoned) is because it shows that while they are still saving projects from the hell of never being seen or made, they still don't have the artists vision in mind.  For the theatrical release is NOT going to be found in IMAX 3D!  I'd be surprised if the 3D version is anywhere, seeing that it's only on one screen near me, and that's an hour away (and in 2D).  Putting it in theaters for only a week before dumping it online shows even more that they aren't interested in how this movie was meant to be seen, just so long as they have another movie they can put on their service to compete with Hulu and the upcoming Disney+.  This is where their "quantity over quality" rule is so bothersome.  Now, maybe there is more to this story than we know.  Maybe Netflix made these bold plans, but couldn't make any substantial deals with theaters?  It's possible.  I mean, most theaters aren't interested in Netflix movies for many of the reasons listed above, and maybe IMAX themselves saw the final cut of  the film and didn't want it even knowing that they'd have an exclusive.  It's hard to say really.

What I do know is that "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle," as it is seen in the few theaters right now, is not the movie Andy Serkis made.  The movie that is going to be released on Netflix in a week is CERTAINLY not the movie Andy Serkis made!  At least, it wasn't made to be viewed in either of these formats, and it bothers me that Netflix didn't do more to get that version out there.  It bothers me so much that they are so intent on day-and-date releases, that they purposefully gimp potentially great theatrical experiences because they want to prove to Hollywood that they "don't need theaters" to find success.  Again, the movie has been getting some pretty rotten reviews and this is probably to be expected.  After all, if Warner Bros. felt they had a hit, they certainly would have gone forward with the major release they originally intended.  Selling the film to Netflix shows that it might not be worth watching in the first place, but I would have paid to see a true 3D movie on the big screen again.

Now, I'm not sure I want to see it at all.

Oh, but there is the possibility of it still getting a BluRay 3D release.  See, after over a year of being exclusive to the service, Paramount has announced that "The Cloverfield Paradox" is coming to DVD and BluRay.  This means that these financial deals might not give them ownership rights, just a prolonged exclusive engagement.  Since Warner Bros. is the biggest studio that still sees value in the BluRay 3D market, we may still get to see that version yet.  Or, maybe we won't...honestly, it's hard to tell at this point.


Where is "The Predator" in 3D?

Shane Black's "The Predator" officially opens today.  I know that some will point out that tomorrow is the "official" release date, but to be frank, I'm getting tired of pretending that the release date means anything anymore.  Studios have been opening the movie a day early for every release since "Iron Man 3" and in some cases they'll even open the movie two days before the street date if they think it can result in a better opening weekend at the box office.  In my eyes, if there is a showing as early as 7:00pm, it is opening day and NOT a preview!  But that's not what I'm here to talk about...I'm here to talk about the 3D release of "The Predator."  Now, first of all, I do want to say sorry for not keeping up with this blog much these days.  I'm actually working on revamping it behind-the-scenes, and am even looking for contributing writers if anyone is interested (send writing samples to greatmediauniverse at gmail d com).

I have been getting e-mails about this movie though, which has clued me in that many of you still enjoy reading my opinions on such matters, so for that I thank you all very much.  As you heard several months ago, "The Predator" was being converted to 3D.  Even IMAX was advertising that it would be an 'IMAX 3D Experience' (though they've changed their tune about that several already).  Yet when the movie opens today you will not find any 3D showings.  All the IMAX screenings will be in 2D.  Even if you go to see a 4DX screening there will be no 3D effects (which defeats the purpose of the moving seats and show effects if you ask me).  Many are wondering why this is the case.  Are theaters finally pulling 3D from all their theaters?  Is this the industry "pulling the trigger" (as some would say)?  No, it's not.  Here's the reason you won't be able to find "The Predator" in 3D when you go to the theaters this weekend:

The 3D version sucked and the wide release was cancelled.

That's it.  It's no more complicated than there.  There is no conspiracy, there is no mistake.  They spent time on the conversion, finished it, and for whatever reason they felt it wasn't of good quality so they decided to make it a 2D only release.  The dwindling 3D ticket sales probably added to the decision not to improve it any more than they already had, but considering how darkly shot and hectic the film moves, maybe this wasn't in the formats best interest.  I've seen what bad 3D can do.  Every time there is a 3D experience that makes a movie worse it makes most of the people who spent the extra money to see it (and have the annoyance of wearing the glasses) vow never to buy another ticket to a 3D movie.  I'm actually for less 3D movies if they result in better visuals.  We are still getting wonderful 3D experiences in theaters: "Avengers: Infinity War," "Ant-Man and the Wasp," "Alpha," and "Wreck-it-Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet" still show that there is much that can be done with the format.

If the 3D conversion of "The Predator" was so bad that even the studios wouldn't release it to make a few extra bucks, then I'm personally fine not seeing it.  The format is in the worst shape I've seen it in for years.  Only one or two major TV's in America have a 3D viewing option.  Screenings for 3D movies are the worst they've ever been (they might as well be classified as 'special events' now).  Yet, there are some highlights.  As noted before, there are still several movies that are being released every year that take great advantage of their 3D format and continue to sell a significant number of tickets on opening weekend.  Many theaters have renewed their deal with RealD for another eight years, committing to almost a full decade of 3D movies as a result.  For that matter, 3D ticket sales are up thanks to subscription services like Sinemia and AMC Stubs A-List including the formats as part of their package.

Yes, the cancelled 3D release of "The Predator" is bad on the surface.  In the long run though, it might be better to keep mediocre experiences in the vault.  Maybe when TV manufacturers decide to give 3D another chance with their glasses free TV's the studios can put a little more polish on these versions and release them as new content for them.  Right now though, enjoy "The Predator" in 2D.  It's not the worst thing to do and there is no greater conspiracy.  In fact, on Tuesday, I'll write about a real story about BluRay 3D that is far more positive and gives me hope that the format isn't dead and neither is the demand.  It's just laying quietly like a tiger, waiting to pounce.  THAT said...if you REALLY want to see "The Predator" in 3D, you can do so over at the TLC Chinese Theater as well as a VERY select amount of theaters! So, I guess the silver lining here is that it wasn't completely cancelled.


Top 10 Worst BluRay 3D's to Own

It took a little while, but I finally made a YouTube video for those bad BluRay 3D's.  The one's that sometimes makes you go "you know...maybe 3D going away wouldn't be the worst thing to happen."  I kid, of course, but these movie really are pretty bad.


Disney to Release "Avengers: Infinity War" with Incorrect Aspect Ratio

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In roughly two weeks, "Avengers: Infinity War" - the undisputed biggest hit of the year - will be landing on UltraHD, BluRay, and DVD (it's available now digitally for those whose don't believe in full ownership of your movies).  As predicted, Disney and Marvel won't be releasing it in BluRay 3D.  This is despite the fact that it was filmed with IMAX cameras.  No, they'd rather release a gimped product to the public: No 3D and a cropped image.  For those who believe in the film makers vision, it will truly be a disgrace of a release.  Thankfully, there will be a European release of the BluRay 3D in about another month, so fans who want to buy the movie in its intended format should have no problem importing it and playing it on their American devices.  Sadly, this is where I have some bad news to report: Early disk specifications suggest that the imported disk may be a gimped version of the movie as well.

Oh, don't worry; it WILL be in 3D!  However, unlike the "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" release, it will NOT contain the 1.90:1 IMAX aspect ratio, of which the movie was filmed in!  Now...let that sink in, because this is astounding to me.  Disney and Marvel made a HUGE deal about the fact that "Avengers: Infinity War Part I & II" (because at some point this was no longer a two part movie...never mind, I need to focus on one lapse of logic at a time) was going to be shot fully with IMAX cameras!  This isn't a new thing, of course.  "The Dark Knight" was the first major blockbuster to incorporate select sequences filmed with IMAX cameras, with other movies like two of the 'Mission: Impossible' movies, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Star Trek: Into Darkness," and "Black Panther" (among others) all getting into the act later on.

These IMAX sequences were usually big hits with audiences, and helped make the movie stand out in an IMAX setting.  The big problem is that the changing aspect ratio annoys/confuses people when bringing the experience home, which had led some of these experiences (particularly "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol") to not have their proper theatrical experiences preserved with home viewing.  It's a frustrating but (unfortunately) understandable compromise.  After all, it took YEARS to convince people that the black bars on the screen weren't evil, and now we're telling those same people that the bars will "sometimes be there and other times not?"  Movie buffs might get it, but the average consumer just walks away baffled by everything.  Thankfully, with "Avengers: Infinity War" being filmed exclusively in the IMAX format, the expanded cinematography could be preserved for home viewing without any of the confusion that would normally follow it.

So why the heck isn't Disney preserving it?

This makes no sense on a number of levels.  First of all, the movie was filmed in this format, so there should at least be an attempt to preserve it that way.  Secondly, since it can be preserved without anyone complaining about "bars coming and going," there is no reason not to do this.  Third, but not releasing it this way, you are actually cropping the image for no good reason anyone with half a functioning brain cell can comprehene.  And to be clear, this isn't even an issue exclusive to the imported BluRay 3D: This is an issue with ALL the releases!  Whether watching the film in 3D or not, there is a whole different aspect ratio that provides more picture, more scope, and more detail.  I can understand that in theaters IMAX wanted to have exclusive rights to that look to convince people to buy tickets at their venue, but at home this should be a non-issue.  Why Disney isn't doing this for all the releases is insulting.  Of course it's especially insulting that they won't be doing this for the 3D release (since that's the one that's going to benefit the most from the expanded ratio).

The sad thing is, we might be at a point where the average customer doesn't care.  I remember when the thought of losing DVD sales were so strong, that Disney delayed the release of "Princess Mononoke" a whole eight months when it came to light a lot of people might not buy it because it didn't have the original Japanese audio track on it.  Years later they made another grave error when they installed 'dubtitles' on BluRay release rather than the properly translated subtitles.  People complained, but the threat of lost sales were not enough to convince Disney to correct the mistake.  Once the disk was pressed they moved on.  I suspect that will be the case here.  If people are vocal they might change the aspect ratio for digital copies, but if "Avengers: Infinity War" makes it to shelves with the compromised 2.40:1 aspect ratio...well, we'll just have to live with it I guess.


What Does Netflix's Purchase of "Mowgli" Mean for the 3D Version?

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The planned theatrical release of "Mowgli" has been cancelled.  Instead of releasing Andy Serkis's much anticipated 3D event film in theaters on October 19, the film will instead premier globally on Netflix sometime in 2019.  I don't know what this means exactly.  Either Netflix has gotten so big they could afford to take a $200 million dollar film off Warner Bros. hands, or Warner had so little faith in the movie that they decided they would be better off getting some money from Netflix and cutting their losses on the rest.  Either way, we're going to have to see what this means for the movie and the quality of it.  This isn't the first time Netflix has done this.  They bought the rights to Paramount's "The Cloverfield Paradox" and gave it a surprise launch after the Super Bowl earlier this year, and they bought the distribution rights of "The Little Prince" from them as well when Paramount decided they didn't want to release the film at the last minute.

In both cases the movies disappeared almost as soon as they showed up.  Debuting movies on streaming services does create a big initial splash, but movies rarely have the staying power as that of a TV show.  It's an area where Netflix has been struggling with, as they tend to be a better TV show maker than film maker.  For these reasons many have been suggesting the company start making their properties available for purchase in physical medium formats, and today's acquisition of "Mowgli" makes another case for that (which we'll get into later).  However, we first need to talk about the part of the acquisition that readers here are most likely concerned about: The 3D version of the film.  After all, Serkis has been upfront that this is going to be a "3D epic" on the level of "Avatar" and "Gravity."  Even today as the news of Netflix acquiring the film broke, he emphasized that the worked really hard on the 3D version, and that it is an entirely different beast than what you will see if you watch it in 2D.

And for those who remember when Netflix bought the rights to "The Little Prince," the 3D version was not released in America.  As someone who owns a Hong Kong BluRay 3D of the film, I can not stress how much Americans missed out on not being able to watch this version (also as one of the few people in America who saw it in theaters, I can confirm many of you missed out on that experience in general).  Thankfully, that seems to have been taken into consideration by Netflix.  They announced upfront that there would be a 3D only theatrical release coinciding with the streaming launch, to ensure that people who want to see the 3D version of "Mowgli" has a chance to do so.  No word on whether or not this will include an IMAX 3D release, but considering it was announced in advance, that version is completed, and Netflix already has a working relationship with IMAX after they were the exclusive theatrical distributors of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny," I would suspect that this would be the case.

For me, I always advocate seeing movies in theaters.  With how much money "Mowgli" cost to make, I think this is a loss if you decide to watch it on a TV for the first time.  I am thankful that Netflix is planning a theatrical release for the 3D version (as it at least gives people curious the chance to see it), but I hope they take it a step further.  Personally, I would like them to release it as a 3D exclusive events two weeks before launching the title on the streaming platform.  Give people a chance to pay money to see it and give the film a chance to garner word-of-mouth on how awesome it is (if it is...there's a very real chance the movie could be terrible).  Then, launch it on streaming while keeping the 3D version in theaters.  Who knows, there may be some people who are so blown away, they'll want the chance to view it on the big screen.  Finally, it's time to release this sucker in a UltraHD/BluRay 3D/BluRay combo pack.

You can decide whether you want to give a digital copy away or not, but this is a movie that people will want to see in the highest quality possible.  That means disks.  In fact, you don't even have to send it to Wal-Mart or Best Buy.  Make it a Netflix exclusive.  That way, you can charge the retail price and insure that no retailer can sell it for less.  And I know they don't want to release disks because they want people to continue to pay for their subscription, but as the company has been finding out, movies come and go.  TV shows are what gets people coming back.  Since movies only provide spurts of visitors, get those spurts, release the disk, and make some money.  Otherwise the movie just sits on the server somewhere, not being watched and being forgotten about.  And - again - since "Mowgli" WAS meant to be watched in 3D, unless you stream it as such the theatrical release is a temporary solution at best.  If fans want to experience it again, they'll want to own a BluRay 3D copy.

Whether or not we will be able to own the 3D version aside, Netflix's acquisition of "Mowgli" is by far their most expensive.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and whether or not people will pass on seeing what is clearly a big screen spectacle on the small screen.  I do admire Netflix for pumping money into movies that might otherwise not get made (and Serkis himself compared his movie to that of another Netflix production - "Okja" - which had distribution problems because if its own subject matter).  The idea of taking these larger-than-live movies and premiering them at home IS cause for concern from me as a movie fan, and it's a shame that most people don't get to experience movies like "Mudbound," "The Little Prince," and "Death Note" in a theater, where the atmosphere and audience reaction would be an added benefit to these movies.  Still, as far as this blog is concerned, at least Netflix is committed to letting us see the 3D version of "Mowgli" in theaters, which is a huge plus as far as I'm concerned.


Will AMC's MoviePass Service be a Boon for 3D Movies?

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AMC launched their Stubs A-List service last week, where for $19.99 you can see three movies a week.  Not as nice as MoviePass's movie a day deal for $9.95, BUT the AMC service let's you see 3D and IMAX movies as part of the deal (IMAX 3D too)!  While there is some debate on whether or not this is going to kill MoviePass (my personal opinion: don't count on it), I had another thought: will this make 3D movies more popular at the big theater chain?  I give my thoughts in a video editorial below:


IMAX Sells Pixar Fans 'Incredible' 3D Experience for "Incredibles II" (Then Cancels it)

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Well...I knew something would pull me out of retirement and back to this blog.  Turns out, it would be IMAX doing a total bait-and-switch for the upcoming "Incredibles II," another sequel in Pixar's continuing quest to franchise all of their original creations ("A Bug's Life" is the only pre-Disney owned era film to avoid this fate).  Unlike most of their recent outputs though, people actually wanted a sequel to "The Incredibles," and the fact that original Oscar-winning writer/director Brad Bird ("Ratatouille," "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol") is back at the helm makes it one of the studios more anticipated films.  Also being one of the films best theater experiences (one that I saw three times in theaters upon the initial release) meant that when IMAX struck a deal to project it, they decided to go big with it!

The theater trailer was shown months ago in full-blown 3D!  As we got closer to the release date, IMAX went all out by advertising an "Incredibles Double Feature" for not just the opening day, but TWO full days before the sequel comes out!  With that event means the first movie will be shown in IMAX for the first time.  Anticipation only got higher as IMAX promised free goodies at the event.  Fan events have been highly anticipated as it makes fans feel like they are getting their own version of a world-wide premier.  To my knowledge, this is one of the first major fan events I've seen for an animated film, giving you an idea as to how anticipated the release it.  That is a big deal, and IMAX continued to push it as such.  That's why when the full trailer came out, IMAX projected it fully in 3D.  This was a big deal because modern 3D movie trailers aren't shown in the format unless it was filmed with the format in mind during early stages  This is because it doesn't make a lot of sense to upconvert trailer footage, because that same footage would have to be re-upconverted again at a later date.

The fact that ALL the "Incredibles II" trailers are being shown in fully 3D states shows that the 3D is not only integral to the movie, it was MADE to be shown in 3D from the ground up!  And really, a computer animated superhero movie is the very thing you would expect to build a 3D experience around.  Because I was with family members when I saw "Avengers: Infinity War" in IMAX 3D a second time, I ended up sticking around for the previews and loved every second of the trailer for "Incredibles II."  It was a reminder that animation was woefully underused in the IMAX format, and it was nice to see the company embracing it again after they (incorrectly) assumed that no one wanted to see these types of movies in the format.  However (and you know this was coming if I'm writing about this) it appears that all of these previews, all of these promises, and all of these claims of a great IMAX 3D experience were all false advertising because NONE of the "Incredibles II" listings I've seen ANYWHERE are showing the movie in 3D!

That is so disappointing I knew I had to come back to this blog and vent my anger like the Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" does.

This is wrong on two levels.  First of all, this is EXTREMELY dishonest!  I mean, extremely so.  By advertising this as a full blown IMAX 3D experience in all your trailers, posters, and advertisements, only to do a 2D only release is one of the worst kinds of false advertising I've seen.  It is a classic bait-and-switch if ever I've seen.  On the other hand, IMAX is not doing themselves (or their shareholders) any favors by denying the public of the 3D version as it looks like the kind of immersive experience that only IMAX can offer.  By stripping of the 3D the theater chain has purposefully gimped the experience, and I suspect people who see it on a standard 3D screen are going to walk away much, much happier.  On a third note, since this IS the premier of the first 'Incredibles' in IMAX, it would be a perfect time to premier a new 3D version that was exclusive to IMAX theaters, and would certainly drive ticket sales to see the classic movie in "a whole new way."  IMAX has screwed EVERYONE with this release!

And, look, I'm not saying there should be no 2D showings.  While I would prefer IMAX deal exclusively in 3D for certain movies, having some showtimes be 2D and some be 3D seems to have worked very well for several major movies.  But just like they were cutting out a certain audience when they were only doing 3D movies, so to are they cutting out certain audience members when they only show 2D.  IMAX claims that this is the direction their shareholders want them to go.  Well, as an IMAX shareholder myself, I would like to throw in my own opinion on the direction the company is going with 2D only releases: This plan sucks and they need to rethink it as soon as possible.


Top 10 Best BluRay 3D Movies to Own

I've been asked this question a lot and now...I made a video on it?

Yeah, sorry guys, but I've got a love/hate relationship with blogging right now.  I want to write, but it's not as much fun as it used to be.  I'm sure this is temporary (as I've lost interest before), but the dry spell has been elevated since my YouTube channels started taking off, and now I am doing more filming and editing as a result.  To keep the site alive, I will be discussing 3D topics on one of the channels, and I will share those videos here.  There is at least one editorial I am halfway through finishing, and I hope to complete it for publication on Monday or Tuesday (no promises though).  In the meantime, enjoy the video!

Can you believe I'm getting paid for this?


"Pacific Rim: Uprising" Is (Almost) Playing Exclusively in IMAX 3D


Though the realization has been slow, it appears that IMAX is starting to come to terms with the fact that that their 3D showings are not only NOT the reason for declining ticket sales, but is actually an asset of theirs!  After almost completely ignoring it for "Black Panther," "A Wrinkle in Time," and "Tomb Raider" (the latter of which I only found playing in Mexico for some reason), 3D is back with a vengeance in IMAX.  Granted, it's not a complete return.  There are still a healthy amount of 2D showings, but what is promising is that 3D makes up the majority of the show times.  Heck, at the Universal Citywalk and Esquire IMAX have NO 2D showings at all (which is a nice change considering 3D really shines on those screens)!  I'm not saying 3D will completely take over again as I do believe there is a good number of people who want IMAX 2D presentations, but I think the company is having a hard time justifying 2D only screens when 3D fans are their most dedicated paying customers.

Not that "Tomb Raider" and "A Wrinkle in Time" were huge hits or anything, but how frustrating was it for them to realize most of their fans passed on seeing those movies in IMAX because they wanted to see them in 3D?  I mean, RPX and XD are nowhere near as big, but since they had 3D versions...well, that's better than nothing right?  If the movie is going to be in 2D, I think most would rather use their MoviePass and see it on a standard screen (then they aren't paying anything).  What's more, the official website confirms that "Ready Player One" and "Avengers: Infinity War" ARE going to have 3D showings in IMAX (the latter is sort of required though, being the first Hollywood movie in history to be fully filmed with IMAX 3D cameras)!  I'm seeing "Pacific Rim: Pacific" in IMAX 3D today.  I'm very grateful because while the first movie wasn't great per se, it was an excellent theater experience, and the excellent IMAX 3D format was a major reason for that.

Hopefully I'll get something similar here.


"Justice League" on BluRay 3D: The Way it SHOULD Have Been in Theaters!

I picked up "Justice League" on BluRay 3D a couple days ago.  This isn't a movie I really wanted to own in 3D.  Not only is the movie pretty terrible regardless how much you like the characters, but I saw the movie in 3D on a Cinemark XD screen and was pretty unimpressed with what I saw.  The 3D was inconsistent, mostly flat, and rarely engaging.  It was probably inevitable that this wasn't going to be a great (or even good) 3D experience.  The movies long and troubled history resulted in the film having two directors, with two completely different styles and shooting methods.  It was one of the few times when director Joss Whedon (NOT Zach Snyder) was so unimpressed with the 3D conversion of the film as a whole, that he asked IMAX not to bother showing it in three dimensions.

So, coupled with the fact that the movie wasn't enjoyable, I was surprised to find myself buying the BluRay 3D.  I find myself doing that for a lot of movies I don't care for though, just to throw the format a few bucks (and to complete the DC Extended Universe collection...whatever that's worth at this point).  When I got home I ultimately did end up watching the movie again, and ten minutes in I was stunned and shocked: This was a COMPLTELY different 3D conversion of the film!  What's more, this is what should have been presented in theaters, and (more specifically) the kind of visual experience that would have been right at home in IMAX 3D.  This new 3D conversion is so much better, that it results in a movie that is almost completely different as far as visuals are concerned.  The dialog scenes actually have field depth that makes the images immersive.  The action sequences pop in a way they just didn't in theaters.  The IMAX aspect ratio is kept, giving the picture an epic scope.

Why on Earth wasn't this the version show in theaters?

Look, I know this doesn't make the movie any better, but it does goes to show that if the film had been delayed a little bit, Warner Bros. would have had an excellent 3D theater experience on their hands.  Heck, had they delayed it they might have also had a better movie, but I'll let other videos and articles debate that one.  In the meantime, Warner did good by going back and completely redoing the 3D conversion so that it was actually watchable at home.  They didn't need to do it.  They certainly knew they weren't going to ship a lot of copies.  But they did right by their consumers, and that is easily one of the best things I can report on this site in a long time.  Oh, also, it appears Best Buy and Target are taking the high demand for the 3D disks more seriously this time around, as there were MANY copies of the BluRay 3D on store shelves, so hopefully fans will actually have the chance to buy it this time!


IMAX Screws 3D Fans with Release of "A Wrinkle in Time"

It looks like IMAX is not only doubling down on their belief that people don't want to see 3D movies, they are doubling down HARD!  Despite all the advertisements for Disney's upcoming "A Wrinkle in Time" promoting the new family adventure as a 3D experience, IMAX is projecting almost all of their showings in 2D.  What's more, the movie itself is largely going to be 2D only at many theaters, in one of the biggest 3D purges I've seen the format receive yet.  There are so few 3D showings in California, that I first assumed that the release had been cancelled altogether, until I noticed the few random late night 3D screenings at a couple of Cinemarks.  Because of this it should be noted that IMAX is not the only theater who seems to be taking a hard stance against the 3D showings of "A Wrinkle in Time," but I will focus on IMAX because they are still in a perfect position to prove that the format is still viable.

This whole mess started with their belief that people didn't want to see 3D movies anymore, and that they would start showing less of them.  "Blade Runner 2049" was their first experiment with not showing 3D at all.  The experiment did not result in more tickets being sold, and thus 3D screenings returned in limited form with "Thor: Ragnorok."  When "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" became a smashing hit in 3D, I was hoping we could put this silly notion that 2D only screenings were the way of the future, and that movies that people wanted to see would ultimately sell tickets.  But IMAX decided to push their agenda even father and with more passion with "Black Panther," where there were scant few IMAX 3D screenings to be found (and I had to compromise by seeing it on a less-than-ideal screen size).  While the movie wasn't hurt at the box office with the lack of 3D releases, it's not like the 3D screenings were vacant by any means.

They were mostly filled with people who wanted to see the movie, and many of the standard 3D showings were also filled in the first two weeks of the films release.  Now with "A Wrinkle in Time" though IMAX is pushing harder than ever to show that their method is going to work.  As of this writing there are actually no IMAX 3D screenings of the movie anywhere in California that I can find, and I had to search several states in to find theaters that would show it even once a day.  Since the 2D and 3D can be switched very easily on these projectors, I don't understand why IMAX doesn't at least give viewers the option of which version they would like to see.  Maybe the 3D version can be exclusive to the opening week, and further screenings could be in 2D?  But then, when people went to IMAX they rarely complain when the movies are in 3D, and most seem disappointed when the movie isn't in 3D because they expect it at this point.

Since "A Wrinkle in Time" has been described as being a visual powerhouse where the 3D was very much a focus of the filming process, why gimp the picture with 2D?  People have sent me tweets asking what they should do since they want to see the movie in IMAX, but they also want to see it in 3D.  And I have to tell them quite bluntly that this is a situation where you will most likely have to choose which you'd prefer: IMAX or 3D.  In some rare cases you can have both, but whether those options will be real IMAX screens is another matter altogether.  Personally I think places like the Esquire IMAX, the TLC IMAX, and the Spectrum IMAX should be showing the movie in 3D, as those are the biggest screens, thus the 3D works best there.  But hey, if they are going to play this game, I guess I'll go to one of those late night showings at Cinemark, and hope IMAX wakes up and realizes that if they want to sell more tickets, they have to have better movies (which there is some debate whether this one is).


Midnight's Edge Discusses Lack of 3D Release for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

Midnight's Edge and The Digital Bits have uploaded a new video discussing "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."  In the video they discuss the film, their thoughts on it, the highly anticipated UltraHD release (AKA: 4K), and they express their frustration about the lack of a domestic 3D release.  It might not give us any clue as to why Disney completely passed over the 3D here in the states, but there is some speculation, and it's nice to know there's more people out there (other than me) who cares about this big problem with home media.


Should You See "Black Panther" in RealD 3D or IMAX 2D?

The first thing that should be noted is, yes, I am aware that a few IMAX theaters are showing Marvel's "Black Panther" in 3D.  I hunted down an IMAX 3D showing myself so I can confirm it exists.  This is obviously the preferred way to see the movie, but what was disappointing is that despite being formatted for IMAX 3D, very few IMAX screens showed it in the proper format.  The screen I went to wasn't even a real IMAX, but one of those up-converted ones (albeit, one that was bigger than your usual up-converted screen, but still smaller than you'd like).  Now that the movie is in its second weekend the movie is still out on all the IMAX screens, but finding a 3D screening is nearly impossible at this point.  There are still plenty of RealD 3D screenings however (as well as XD 3D for those interested), but the IMAX version DOES have 20% more of the image, so the question is this: Does that 20% difference make it worth giving up the 3D?

Unlike previous entries in this series, the answer is more nuanced than I would have liked.  Truthfully, the 3D is sort of a lukewarm experience.  It's clearly a post-conversion job and one that isn't even very impressive.  That said, there are three scenes where it really pops in a great way: The intro, the car chase, and the climatic battle.  In all these scene the IMAX version opens up to revel more image, and the 3D is given more room to breath as characters are so close to the camera (Editor's note: As much as I loved this movie, some of the close up shots were really weird and not helpful in three dimensions in the slightest).  Without the 3D though, these scenes are slightly less compelling to watch.  On the other hand...eh, the 20% extra image space also help the scenes, so it's not like I want to toss that aspect out the door either.  It would have been nice if IMAX had just let the movie screen the way it was intended (this is one of the few posters to explicitly advertise IMAX 3D), but I guess what's done is done.

Obviously the best choice would be to see "Black Panther" in IMAX 3D, but with so few screenings of it left (and none of them on the real IMAX's) that isn't really an option.  The 20% extra image is nice, but the 3D makes such an impact in the three scenes it works in that it would be a shame to pass that up as well.  In this case I think I'm going to have to award a tie, as I find neither version to be definitively better than the other.  I would have liked to be able to make a solid recommendation, but in this case you might want to whip out your Sinemia card and see the movie in both formats.  Thankfully, it IS worth seeing twice!  My only beef is that this is a situation where you practically need to if you want to experience the movie fully.


Those Wanting "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" on BluRay 3D Will Have to Import

Disney officially announced the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" on physical media today, and a 3D version was not in the cards (not even as a retailer exclusive).  This is disappointing for a myriad of reasons (and also frustrating when you know that Warner Bros. is releasing "Justice League" in 3D, which didn't have NEARLY as big an audience as 'The Last Jedi' did).  The title will be made available to purchase in Europe with a 3D steelbook, but there is no confirmation that will be region free.  Past experiences have led me to believe that it will, but until I have the disk in my hand I can't confirm that.  I'm sorry to have to report the news (I held off on the on chance there was a retailer exclusive waiting in the wings), but it is apparent even 'Star Wars' can't get Disney to release a 3D version.


Was "Peter Rabbit" Supposed to be a 3D Movie?

So...I saw "Peter Rabbit" today.  I'm not sure what disappoints me more; that sentence or the fact that I actually sort of liked the movie.  I know, I know, I'm probably losing a lot of you right now, but trust me: I have to see a LOT of kids movies each year, and considering this was a modern remake of a book many kids consider to be slow AND came from the studio that gave us "The Emoji Movie" of all things, I think you can admit that even if you don't like it (and there is enough here to dislike for there to be some caution attached with my recommendation), things could have been a lot worse.  That's not what we're here to discuss though (I'll have a full review tomorrow on my other site).  No, what I want to talk about is how while I was watching the movie, I was getting a strong sense that this was supposed to be a 3D movie at one point, yet we ultimately got was a 2D movie.

The questions I have are is this true (and if so...what happened to the 3D version)?  First of all, I need to mention that I combed through lots of pre-release material for this movie in order to see if my theory had any weight to it (which is not something I expected to do for "Peter Rabbit" of all things).  In my search I found no posters (either here or internationally) that advertises the movie in 3D.  There are no commercials saying this will be presented in 3D.  Wikipedia doesn't even give a hint that 3D was in the equation.  So, to make it clear right now: There is NO pre-release proof or interview I could find that suggests a 3D version was planned!  Normally that would be the end of the discussion, but it's not because there is one major source that suggests the 3D version was at the very least planned: The actual movie itself!  There are several moments where objects appear to be 'thrown' at the screen.

A couple scenes involving birds flying (while rapping...again, not a perfect movie) that involve a camera that moves and sways as if the scenery was supposed to surround you.  There are a couple of dance sequences where not only are the rabbits jumping toward the screen, but in two instances they appeared to be hovering.  Heck, many of these moments can be found in the trailer itself (pay attention to the porcupine getting electrocuted).  If that wasn't telling enough, there is a scene late in the movie where two characters are being told the events that happened during the first half of the film.  After hearing the story, the wife laughs and comments "why, that sounds like a 3D adaptation of a popular children's book."  The meta-joke may or may not strike a cord with you personally, but that is an oddly specific description for a movie that ultimately wasn't in 3D.  Also, it should be noted that this and "The Star" are the only Sony Animation movies that are NOT in 3D aside from "Surf's Up" (which was released in 2007)!

The question a lot of people might have now is if this was supposed to have a 3D version...what happened to it?  Answer: I don't know.  The most logical explanation is that the studio made the choice to forgo a 3D release altogether.  Judging by how certain shots are presented and the line of dialog being delivered the way it was, we can (probably) safely assume that this version was cancelled late enough into production that shots and script lines were filmed with it in mind, but early enough so that it wasn't a major focus in the advertising.  Now, does the 2D only version hurt the film?  It's hard to say.  The fact that I noticed some of the shots looked weird is an indicator that those scenes should have been reshot so as to not stand out as much, but I can also see why a studio wouldn't want to pour millions of dollars into commissioning reshoots for "Peter Rabbit."  Unless we hear otherwise, this is just a conspiracy theory though.  In the meantime, if you have kids who want to see this...eh, whop out your MoviePass.  It might not be great cinema, but I think most will be surprised at how charming it is at times.


Apparently, Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" is Being Re-released in 3D

I've had to report on so many disappointing stories, that I'm pleasantly surprised when I have good news to share.  "The Room" is a movie that is considered by many to be one of the worst movies ever made.  It is so legendarily bad, that screenings of it are still held in theaters, where people go to scream at the screen, throw spoons, and just have a good time.  It's one of the rare films that even critics consider their negative reviews to be a shining endorsement.  Well, if you enjoy the experience of watching "The Room," apparently you will soon be able to experience it in 3D!  No joke, Tommy himself has confirmed this via a tweet on Twitter...

...which, I have to say, is really pretty cool to hear.  Now, I have no illusions that this is going to be pure 3D.  It's probably not going to be GOOD 3D!  In fact, I imagine Tommy will screw this conversion up so badly, that it will only add to how hilariously awful the whole experience of "The Room" can be.  I not only look forward to seeing Tommy's bare ass on the big screen, I look forward to the butt cheeks not even lining up in the third dimension.  I imagine the football looking like it is going to fly off the screen before it jerk back into place when someone catches it.  The possibilities are endless, and (like the movie itself) I expect it to be terrible in the most fun, organic way possible!


Is Disney Officially Done with BluRay 3D?

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So, as you can probably imagine, I've been getting a LOT of e-mails from people who are concerned that Disney is finally dropping support for BluRay 3D in general!  They are basing this on the fact that "Coco" is confirmed as having no 3D release in the states, "Thor: Ragnorok" doesn't have one, and it's looking like "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" won't be getting a release either.  Personally, I would wait until the official announcement before writing 'Star Wars' off ("Rogue One" sold VERY well in 3D as a retailer exclusive, so that's the route that may be taken here as well), but, yes, it's certainly looking like even Pixar and Marvel can't convince the mouse to release any more BluRay 3D's in the states.  Now, the good news is that (so far) ALL of these movies will have European 3D releases!  What's more, these disks tend to be VERY import friendly (to the point where the only disks that didn't work on my American players were "Ratatouille" and "The BFG"...and apparently Disney didn't even release the later themselves overseas, so who knows why that one was region locked)!

What's more, most of them get steelbook releases from Zavii, which make them look almost like American releases (sans the disk artwork).  This is (obviously) very disappointing, but we all know that 3D is in a pretty bad state right now.  If it weren't...well, I wouldn't be running this blog, now would I?  Right now the only company that is really releasing BluRay 3D's consistently is Warner Bros.  And keep in mind that "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" was released in VERY limited quantities and "Blade Runner 2049" was a Best Buy exclusive.  Things are going to be rocky with 3D releases for a little while.  Thankfully, imports DO exist, and future articles will be focusing on how you can obtain and watch these imports in the comfort of your own home!  In the meantime, thankfully there are European imports that look to work on your American players, and they are only slightly more money than you would have paid anyway.


Relax Folks: "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" WAS Released on BluRay 3D!

Here's the first post of 2018 folks!  Hope you all had a great Christmas and Happy New Year!  I, personally, have had neither, but life moves on, and I am looking forward to new opportunities and prospects!  In the meantime, while I was on vacation I did get several e-mails from people asking if Warner Bros. secretly cancelled the BluRay 3D release of "The LEGO Ninjago Movie."  And, um, here's the thing guys...Warner Bros. DID release this in 3D!  They still did fans a solid.  However...the thing is really hard to find.  Like, this was a pretty bare bones, rare release.  Not many copies were made and most stores didn't even get it.  Basically, if you want this, you need to buy it from a third party seller on Amazon or eBay.  Don't worry, so far there aren't too many listings for more than the retail price, but if you want this in your collection you might want to hop on that soon, because who knows how long that will be the situation.

I don't like that this was released in such short supply, but this is just the reality of the business in America.  But, there are three positive's to take from this. 1) America got an official release, PERIOD!  2) You can import this from Zavii for a cheaper price (and the disk appears to be region free).  3) This didn't come in a steelbook to make it artificially more difficult to find (this one is just hard to find because people wanted it).