I don’t think the movie industry has ever invested so much hope (and hype) on a Friday that wasn’t the 13th as they are this week. And since the television industry is inseparably entwined with the movie industry, Friday December 19, 2009 may turn out to be as seminal an event for the living room as it will for the cinema.
So what’s the big deal? If you watch movies or television at all, it’s hard not to be aware of the fact that James Cameron’s “Avatar” will be released on Friday. Cameron directed “The Terminator”, “Aliens”, “True Lies”, and a sweet little love story called “Titanic”. He has proven himself to be a skilled artist while creating movies with outstanding box office success.
After 12 years without a new movie, he’s finally brought his latest work to the big screen. And this time, its in stereoscopic 3D. He designed the movie from the ground up to be filmed and viewed in 3D. And it will be a combination of live cast and computer-generated graphics (think “Lord of the Rings”), with Cameron’s famous obsession behind the sweating of every little detail to make the final product a seamless and immersive reality. And it will be in 3D.
Over the past five years, thousands of local cinemas in this country and around the world have been converted to digital projection, and most of these are capable of showing stereoscopic 3D movies. Audiences have responded favorably, choosing to pay a premium for the 3D version over a 2D version of the same movie. While the 3D technology is much improved over the early commercial experiments of the 1950s, it still has been used largely for its shock value as a special effect. Many industry watchers have pinned their hopes on Cameron to deliver a stunning movie where the 3D effects exist to support the story, rather than be the focal point on their own.
That’s a lot of weight riding on this one movie, but success or failure could have repercussions far beyond the couple hundred million dollars invested in its creation. If this movie can elevate 3D cinematography to take its place alongside widescreen, surround sound, and color as a staple of movie-making, it will accelerate the migration of 3D into the living room. Pansonic and Sony have already jumped out in front on this movement, but expect the CES show in Las Vegas next month to reveal a lot more 3D consumer electronics. How fast consumer demand grows for these products could be worth billions to companies worldwide.
But if you go to see “Avatar” when it’s released this Friday, don’t think about any of this. Just sit back and enjoy the show, and then let me know what you think of it. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.