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.


  1. MaxFromQuebec said...:

    *Mortal Engines not "Mortal City"

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