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Whither 3-D?

Film critic Roger Ebert, long a naysayer of the gimmick of 3-D usage in movies, is rubbing his hands together with glee at the Slate article by Daniel Engber that all but puts a stake in the heart of the 3-D film phenomenon. While a Mark Twain quote comes to mind at the moment, I can't necessarily dispute Mr. Engber's assertion that 3-D's popularity may have peaked. The following passage from the article caught my attention:

Yet by the end of August 2010, the future of cinema was starting to look unsteady on its feet. Box-office returns from the next wave of 3-D films were disappointing. The revival needed reviving.

The thought occurred, when reading the above quote, that it might (just might) be possible that the entire scope of movie releases could have to undergo a massive overhaul in the coming years. What I'm talking about, in one sense, is the death of the multiplex. Indeed, all one has to do is look around to see the portents of this potential trend. We've witnessed the implosion and shuttering of nationwide companies, resulting in the plethora of their chain stores standing as empty, silent husks of what once had been a thriving business.

If the Great Recession has taught us anything over the past few years, it is that nothing is safe. Nothing is off-limits (well, except for banks, apparently). Could Hollywood be next? Something has to change, that's for certain. It seems as though a radical new approach to film distribution is needed if the industry is to survive. And reducing the number of screens, while at first appearing counter-productive, might be the way to go. I think we've reached a turning point in our society. For a while, expansion was the name of the game. But now? Consolidation seems to be the course du jour.

There weren't always multiplexes. I come from a time (barely) when there were single-screen movie theaters - and that was it. In fact, when you look at the history and entirety of cinema, multi-screen establishments are a relatively recent thing. And it's not as though there are more movies being produced now. If you were to compare the resumes of actors from today to those from the past, I can almost guarantee that the ones from the past would have a ton more films-per-year to their credit than those from today. Yet, stand-alone theaters were the norm back then. And it worked.

I dunno. Perhaps I'm talking out of my you-know-what. Maybe the business model of the film industry will remain static? But that hardly seems advisable, given the hits it's been taking in recent years. It needs help, and 3-D (apparently) wasn't it. What will be  --- who knows?


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