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What Happened to 3D?

3D was first invented in 1838 by Charles Wheatstone when he realized the two human eyes are at slightly different angles allowing for optical illusions like 3D to be made. The first 3D movie wasn’t made until 1903. Not many movies were made in 3D at the time since it was a long and tedious process which needed a really specific film and glasses to work. Not many people saw it, but those who did were stunned. 

The 1960’s are widely considered the golden age of 3D, it had finally cracked the mainstream. The film used to make it was more accessible and now in color. The 3D explosion had hit the film industry hard with a great number of films being made for 3D. But eventually it fizzled out of the mainstream as it was seen as over-saturated.

In the late 2000s 3D peaked in its second mainstream resurgence. This was mainly because of the popularity of Avatar directed by James Cameron. Avatar was, and still is, the highest-grossing movie in the world, because it used 3D to its advantage, by creating astonishing visuals made for 3D, which immersed the viewer in the world of Avatar, and people liked it, which is seen by looking at the movie’s advanced ticket sales of which 90% were for 3D screenings.

Avatar proved that people would spend money on a 3D movie, so many upcoming movies decided to use the technology as well, because studios could make more money from a higher 3D movie ticket than a standard digital one. 

In the mid-2010s the public was starting to lose interest in 3D. Many studios were making their own normal movie and then converting it to 3D afterward. The problem with that is many of the movies that did this were hurt by it. Rather than making the movie more immersive, the low-quality 3D just distracted people and detracted from their viewing experience.

At the same time in the mid 2010s, there was a revolutionary new way to watch 3D right in the comfort of your own home. It was the 3D TV, and it ended up gaining a lot of popularity. Only a few years after its release 1.5 million households in the UK owned at least one 3D-enabled TV.

The problem with 3D TVs was that many people would use them a couple of times and then just turn the 3D off after a while. Many 3D-enabled stations stopped broadcasting because no one was tuning in, which in turn caused even less people to tune in. 

The Avatar sequel was the only movie in the 2020s which cracked over 50% of ticket sales being for 3D showings. It is also one of the highest-grossing movies of all time with over $2.3 billion made at the box office. The reason why so many people saw this movie in 3D is because it was made to be seen in 3D so it was a priority of the film to get it right. Just like the original avatar they used the 3D Sony Venice camera to make it as easy and precise as it needed to be instead of using a regular cinema camera to shoot it and lazily convert it to 3D afterward. 

Another reason why 3D isn’t doing well is the price. If someone was going to see the new Aquaman movie at AMC Hoffman the normal Standard Screening ticket is $10.99, but a RealD 3D ticket is $18.49. Most consumers think that it isn’t worth it to pay 70% more for the same movie that has been tackily converted to 3D. As well as most movies that release with 3D only have it available for the first two weeks of the movie’s lifespan. There is just no good reason to see 3D currently.

3D is in its dark ages right now and it needs a revolution or it will be gone forever, or until Avatar 3 comes out.


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