Avatar’ steers filmdom toward new 3-D world

Avatar steers filmdom toward new 3-D world

by Maria Puente/USA TODAY

For film experts looking ahead to the next decade in movies, there are two messages embedded in the success of Avatar.For one, filmmaker James Cameron‘s belief in 3-D as the future of cinema has been confirmed.And in an era in which people can increasingly watch a movie on their computer, Avatar is a reminder of the value of the communal experience of actually going to a movie theater.John Wildman, spokesman for the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, says people will always want the moviegoing experience. “Look at Avatar: In the last couple of weeks, it’s been a huge talking point with everyone — everyone wants to weigh in, and that comes from watching it together in a theater.””We all go to the movies for great stories and characters and things that help explain who we are as humans — that’s been true forever and that’s not going to change,” says Elizabeth Daley, dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. “We’re going to continue to redefine the communal experience, but there’s no doubt theaters will be around.” Expect more and even better use of digital technology, including 3-D, says Greg Foster, chairman and president of IMAX films, who worked with Cameron in making Avatar, now being hailed as a revolution in special effects/3-D moviemaking. Studios and filmmakers would be “crazy” not to do so, he says.With the technology hugely improved, producing better sound, crystal-clear images and more immersive experiences, Foster says, top directors can transform the industry by moving the studios toward 3-D.Even so, don’t expect every movie to feature 3-D, Foster says.”Not every movie is conducive to a theater, and not every movie needs to be in 3-D,” he says. “No one is going to see My Dinner With Andrein 3-D. My brother produced Sleepless in Seattle, but I don’t need to see it in a theater in 3-D — and that doesn’t mean they’re not great movies.”Caution is in order, says John Belton, a professor of English and film studies at Rutgers University. The industry can’t go all-digital all at once, because there are still tens of thousands of theaters that don’t have that technology — and moviegoers continue to pack them.”If Avatar is making profits, it’s because it’s being shown in other platforms besides digital and 3-D,” Belton says.”Today, all the major studios are working together to establish new markets and figure out how to exploit them fully without damaging any chains of income already in place. In 10 years we’ll see a version of that — looking for audiences wherever they are.”Anthony Mora, media and marketing expert and author of several books on the topic, says the promise of 3-D is that by 2020, we might be able to “immerse ourselves in a world, as opposed to viewing it on a screen, so it will feel as if you’re actually in the story.”In the next 10 years, we’re going to see more changes than in the last 20.”