"Alita: Battle Angel" Delivers a Holiday Miracle: A Genuine 3D Hit

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"Alita: Battle Angle" is (if nothing else) something that the cinema world hasn't really seen in a few years: a genuine 3D success story.  Yeah, the movie itself could have done better on opening weekend.  And yeah, it may struggle to make enough money to justify its existence (never mind justify a sequel).  The one thing that is not in dispute is that the film is a strong 3D success story, and shows that when done right, audiences WILL turn out to see it!  IMAX was pretty much forced by producer James Cameron to show the film in 3D.  While they may have done that begrudgingly, it resulted in them capturing 15% of the overall ticket sales.  For that matter, in regards to regular screenings, it has been reported that 3D showings accounted for up to 66% of tickets sold.

It was so crazy that when I went to buy tickets to see it again, one of the 3D screenings was sold out on a Tuesday.  This hasn't happened in so long I had to laugh.  I have a friend of mine who I debate the merits of 3D (and really anything) in film with frequently, and he always jokes "well, maybe James Cameron will be back to save 3D again?"  Now, he has said this in a joking manner, and he was probably referring to future 'Avatar' movie, but now we have "Alita: Battle Angel" tearing up the 3D world, and while Cameron didn't direct the film ("3D God No. 4" Robert Rodriguez did), with his name on it, it appears he's blazing the trail once again.  Its starting to make me wonder how many times this man has to show Hollywood that 3D isn't dead.  That if you make the right movie and use the format correctly, not only will people love it (and despite how the critics feel, there's no doubt most audience members fell over themselves), but they will GLADLY pay extra to see it!

I'm wondering how many people were regretting not picking up a 3D TV after seeing this.  Clearly this would have been something worth having at home, right?  Heck, this might even suggest that if you make the 3D seem like an event in the marketing, it will pay off if you actually deliver that experience.  I'm not certain what the future of "Alita: Battle Angle" is.  I'm not sure if word-of-mouth will be able to make this successful enough to justify a sequel.  Even if it does, I'm not sure Disney would be interested in one (they will likely own Fox by then).  However it has shown that 3D is not dead as many proclaim, and it is successful enough that many IMAX screens will be skipping out on "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" in favor of keeping this another week.  Speaking of which...I have some things to say about the release of THAT film later this week!


"They Shall Not Grow Old" Expands on Super Bowl Weekend

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Many of you will be watching the Super Bowl today.  I will not.  With all due respect to most of the country, I have never been much of a sports fan in general, and football fans largely take their game so seriously that the entire event is something I can only step back from and scoff at.  All of the "we won" or "we're going to be the best" as if they are actually doing anything to help the team win is silly to me.  I am more interested in seeing if Maroon 5 performs a SpongeBob SquarePants song during the half time show more than I am who wins the game.  However, I WILL be enjoying seeing Peter Jackson's "They Shall Not Grow Old" in 3D for the first time!  The movie has had three sold out Fathom Events screenings (none of which I had time to see), and despite not getting an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary at the 91st Annual Academy Awards, the fact that it did sell out and has Peter Jackson as a director probably gave the studio a lot of confidence in attracting those who don't partake in the ritual of the 'Big Game' to their screenings.

What's more, the vast majority of the showings will be in 3D and it is being advertised as something you need to see in that format.

Is the movie going to crack the top ten at the box office?  I doubt it.  Even though it premiered at the number nine spot on Friday, it IS a documentary at the end of the day!  One that is based off World War I (a time period that is usually overlooked by the more popular World War II subject).  Also, it has received criticism from critics (myself included I admit) that colorizing the footage and making it 3D actually tampers with history.  I can understand why they would think that.  My last two BluRay's of "It's a Wonderful Life" have color versions available, and despite hearing that they are excellent, I wouldn't dare watch them.  The film is perfect as is and no tinkering is needed as far as I'm concerned.  Granted, that version pretty much exists so that NBC can air it every year and not get letters about why they are showing something in black and white.  While I need to see what Peter Jackson has done with his movie, I believe he is trying to bring interest to a topic that is largely undiscussed by the general public, and he is trying to do so in a way that will catch people's attention (in all fairness, it seems to be working).

People are actually talking about this one and most people I know are planning to spend an extra few bucks for the 3D screening.  That is an admission I have not heard from some of my friends in a long time.  Well, unless they were seeing the movie with me, in which case they more or less had to see the 3D version (ask the group of people who ended up shelling out extra money for the "Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse" IMAX 3D screening even though I was the only one who cared to see it in that format in the first place).  So even if it isn't a huge box office hit, it is very nice to know that Peter Jackson is still creating art with 3D, and is even making a point to get the public interested in a 3D movie during a weekend where most will be watching TV with colors painted on their face and spilling nachos on the ground when 'their team' makes a stupid mistake that they obviously shouldn't have.  And he's pulling it off with a documentary on World War I.  That is a certain kind of marketing genius I could not have predicted going into the weekend, and "They Shall Not Grow Old" should not be overlooked for that.