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Caffeinated Clint : Harry Potter evicts 3D from Hogwarts!

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In a move that’s, as I see it, only going to earn them extra cred and a sponge bath, Warner Bros has announced that they won’t be releasing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1″ in 3D as originally planned.

(I’m picturing about 80% of you with newly-adorned smiles on your mugs)

According to the studio, the conversion wasn’t going to be done in time or if it had been, it’d look as sucky as watery Japanese alcohol. As a consequence, Warners have opted to simply go with straight-up old-school 2D.

You’ve got to respect Warners for the decision – instead of simply pushing another shoddy 3D conversion (“The Last Airbender”, “Clash of the Titans”, “Alice in Wonderland”) onto the circuit they’ve opted to put quality not greenbacks first. That’s almost unheard of in today’s day-and-age.

What I’m wondering is, will other studios follow suit? Will they abandon sloppy 3D conversions just as Warner Bros have? (Studios do like to play follow the leader, after all) Or, even better, is this simply a sign that even those at the big houses have tired of the gimmick?

Many filmmakers have said over the past few months that “Hollywood is it’s worst enemy when it comes to 3D” and as a consequence the gimmick will quickly die just as it did in the early ’80s when they brought it back (“Friday the 13th 3D”, “Jaws 3D”). Hell, they even brought 3D back briefly in the early ’90s – everyone remember putting on the glasses for the last five minutes of “Freddy’s Dead”? – but it too, following poor feedback, saw the fun add-on pushed back into the projectionist’s closet. Hollywood just seems to be sitting in a spinning Tea Cup… going round-and-round in circles.

I recently had a chat to director Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) whose new film “The Hole 3D” has struggled to get distribution because shingles see it as no more than ‘just another 3D movie’. Thing is, “The Hole 3D” isn’t just another 3D movie – it was actually filmed in 3D, and back when it was in production it was one of only a few three-dimensional offerings in the works. Sadly, by the time it was completed, 3D films were flooding the marketplace.

”I think it’s a very valid storytelling tool. If the movie lends itself to 3D, you should definitely shoot it in 3D. Thing is, all these studios are now sending these 2D films, like Clash of the Titans, away and having them converted into 3D – and they never work”, Dante said. “They look terrible. 3D films have to be edited a certain way – for instance, you can’t have these fast Bourne Identity-style cuts in 3D movies. Clash of the Titans was a bad-enough transfer, but apparently The Last Airbender is almost unwatchable – the worst 3D conversion ever!”

Dante said he now regrets shooting “The Hole in 3D” because, “when we were shooting it I knew that there were only a certain number of 3D movies coming out. But then someone had the inane idea to turn flat 2D movies and turn them into 3D and now, not only are all these fake 3D films being released, but there are not enough theaters to show them all.”

Had Hollywood simply let 3D be a ‘special treat’ that only the most capable would toy with – like James Cameron (“Avatar”), Patrick Lussier (“My Bloody Valentine 3D”), David Ellis (“Final Destination”)- then audiences and studios likely wouldn’t have tired of it so soon. When you’re in the pit of balls at a fun park you want to be able to swim freely in the coloured offerings, you don’t want to have someone pouring buckets upon buckets of extra balls on top of you as you make your way around the pit, do you!?

“We have all these 3D movies coming out, but it’s entirely possible that the digital conversions and computer technology that exhibitors pumped a ton of money into are now obsolete,” a producer of a film that has done well on 3D tells The Wrap. “That would be a catastrophic economic situation, but I bet it’s what you’re going to find.

“Three years ago the push was to digitally upgrade every theater – but at least for the moment, theaters don’t have the necessary horsepower to show the movies in the way that people are now thirsting for. So you’ve got laser companies stepping in, or people patching together two projectors to replace things that were just done in the last three-to-five years.”

Audiences seem to be revolting, here’s a graph from the aforesaid site that illustrates the fall in audience numbers at these glasses-required films :

Studios can charge more for a ticket to a 3D movie, that also seems to be deterring people. And those that have the audacity to think that ‘audiences ONLY want to see 3D movies these days’ (as one exec recently told in an email) need only look at how much coin “The Twilight Saga : Eclipse” and “Inception”, two 2D movies, brought in.

On the other side of the coin, it’ll be disappointing if 3D goes away – some filmmakers are doing wonderful things with the format… heck, even “Jackass 3D” looks amazing.

There’s a hundred or more movies being released in 3D over the next year – “Yogi Bear 3D”, The “Alien” prequel, “Sucker Punch”, “The Cabin in the Woods” (delayed for a year so they could convert it to 3D!!), “Smurfs 3D”, “Spider-Man 3D”, “The Green Lantern”, “Final Destination 5″ – but will the plug be removed from the trend tub before those offerings can even feel how how it is in there?

Here’s the press release about “Harry Potter” sent out this morning :

Warner Bros Pictures has made the decision to release “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1″ in 2D, in both conventional and IMAX theaters, as we will not have a completed 3D version of the film within our release date window. Despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality. We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey, and to that end, we are releasing our film day-and-date on November 19, 2010 as planned. We, in alignment with our filmmakers, believe this is the best course to take in order to ensure that our audiences enjoy the consummate “Harry Potter” experience.

Producer David Heyman said, “For 10 years, we have worked alongside Alan Horn and the studio, whose priority has always been to preserve the integrity of Jo Rowling’s books as we have adapted them to the screen, and this decision reflects that commitment.”

Director David Yates continued, “This decision, which we completely support, underscores the fact that Warner Bros. has always put quality first.”

As scheduled, on July 15, 2011, we will deliver to conventional and IMAX theaters our final installment of the film franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” in both 2D and 3D formats.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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