The 3-D Phenomenon

By Christina Manolis and Genevieve Conti

The Past
After the creations of CGI and Blu-ray, it would appear that movies couldn’t get any better. That is until the recent phenomenon of 3-D movies. Yet 3-D movies are not a recent invention. Attempts at creating a three-dimensional image started as early as the 1890s, although they never rose to any success. It wasn’t until 1922 that the first 3-D film was ever shown. This new innovation sparked high intrigue in creating more advanced methods of displaying 3-D images on screen. But with the outbreak of World War II, interest began to decline.

3-D films regained popularity in 1952, with the production of Bwana Devil filmed in the polarization 3-D system, the system that is still the standard for movies produced today. This popularity, however, only lasted two years. And while there was a resurgencein the production of 3-D films from the 1960s onward, they never quite met their former glory. That is until this past year with the worldwide success of James Cameron’s Avatar.

The Present

The current state of 3-D movies has everyone talking about box office prices, which had seen steady increases even before 3-D movies came on the scene. From 2003 to 2006 alone, ticket prices increased by as much as 20% in Ireland. With the 3-D phenomenon growing quickly, box office prices are rising again. In Dublin, Omniplex movie theatres charge an extra fee of €2 for 3-D screenings (though some theatres won’t charge the fee if you bring your own glasses).

While ticket price increases may be an annoyance, according to box office figures, the spike isn’t too much to deter audiences. Since the release of Avatar, it’s estimated that 3-D movies have been responsible for 33% of box office revenues, according to figures from the International 3D Society. Alice in Wonderland and Avatar are just two of the recently released 3D movies whose opening weekend numbers showed that 3-D screenings grossed more than double the amount that 2-D showings did.

The Future
Avatar has sparked a new trend for 3-D movies, and this summer will only see more 3-D releases, including the conversion of past films from 2-D to 3-D. Several 3-D summer blockbusters promise to be a success, including Toy Story 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 1. Plans to re-release both Titanic and the Star Wars films in 3-D have been rumoured as have plans to give the same treatment to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Don’t worry about having to leave these movies in the theater though, because it’s estimated that by 2011, one in ten television sets sold will have 3-D capabilities. For now, while our pockets may be a little emptier, the future of 3-D films looks quite promising.

What Movie-Goers Think



“I think it’s a good idea. I haven’t been to one yet, but I think a third dimension is interesting.”-Benjamin Erlacher, 28


“I didn’t think you really needed the 3-D for Clash of the Titans. I took my glasses off just to see what it was like and there wasn’t much of a difference.”-Emma Woods, 19, right

“If you keep your glasses, you don’t have to pay the extra money at some cinemas, which is nice.”-Triona Waters, 19, left

“I saw Avatar in 3D. I think it was more visual and it makes you use your imagination. It wouldn’t have been the same in 2-D.”-Sandra Dartnell and her father Raymond

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