What kind of films really needs 3D?

“A 3D film can end up gaining 33% higher profit than 2D.”

According to this reason, studios are making more and more 3D films. Some of them were shot in 3D, and some of them were converted to 3D in post.

When go to the theatre audience normally gets to choose 2D or 3D version to watch. But according to this news, audience in China did not have a choice when watching Jason Bourne (2016).


“Out of 149 cinemas in Beijing, only eight are currently showing the 2D version, according to local media. In Shanghai, it’s said to be only nine out of 174.” As a result, Universal earned $11.8 million and set a new single-day record on the opening night in China.

As a film shot in 2D, Jason Bourne obviously is not suitable for 3D due to its shooting and editing style, compared to the two films we saw at the SCA IMAX theater. There are too many cuts; shots are too close to the object, audience’s eyes needs to move too frequently to track the object in different cuts and the hand-held camera made the experience worse. When screened in 3D, these movements could not be adjust by human brains correctly, which lead to Chinese audience’s nausea during the film.

While Born To Be Wild and Hubble almost kept the same object scale, had long shots, slow cuts, which make the audience dive into the amazing 3D effects.

To make a 3D film, the technology is not the only aspect the filmmakers need to consider about. They need to adjust other film aspects to make 3D work, such as Editing, Camera position and movements, Shot scales and so on.

What’s interesting is that after the complain from Chinese audience, Universal decided to add more 2D screenings. Which proves that the market can determine what consumers need, and consumers can determine the market as well. It’s a two way relationship.


One thought on “What kind of films really needs 3D?

  1. Yikes, imagining a Bourne movie in 3D sounds pretty awful. After our IMAX session, I was pretty struck by how much different production needs to be in order to maintain some sense of sensorial balance in a 3D film, and obviously that intentionality isn’t quite there when the movie is a post-converted 3D film. I’m always sort of fascinated when media technology makes people sick. Similar things are happening with VR. Our desire for media and novelty is so insatiable that we’re willing to get sick, to a certain degree. I’m also interested in the cultural differences that inspired this conversion in the first place – why is 3D so popular in China? Is it just there? Regardless, I do think it’s a bit telling that Universal was willing to power through in 3D in China but not in the States – clearly studios have varying levels of respect for their audiences, domestic and national, but that’s not really much of a surprise.


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