It was reported today that Top Gun would be getting the 3D treatment and could potentially be released back into theaters sometime early next year. Add it to the list of ‘old’ films that will be getting 3D treatment and will be released next year (Star Wars: Episode I and Titanic are also on the list). Hollywood recycling old films is nothing new, the 3D converting of older films however, somewhat is.
Now, I don’t want to rehash my stance on what I think of 3D (for that, see this blog post). However, just when it seems that 3D might be quieting down and we may get a break from it, it’s thrust right back in our faces. The difference this time being that these aren’t new movies that are coming out in 3D . . . they’re old ones.
As you can imagine, converting older films for 3D presentation raises a number of questions with the top one being, “Is this a money grab?” I think we’re all familiar with the Hollywood MO of taking existing properties, turning them into movies, and then bringing them out in 3D to help bump up its box office take. Could that be what’s going on with Star Wars, Top Gun, and Titanic? To answer this question, you really have to look at who’s behind these releases.
Take for example the Titanic release in 3D. According to the linked article, James Cameron (the guy that brought 3D to the masses with Avatar) is the driving force behind that conversion:
“There’s a whole generation that’s never seen Titanic as it was meant to be seen, on the big screen . . . and this will be Titanic as you’ve never seen it before, digitally remastered at 4K and painstakingly converted to 3D. With the emotional power intact and the images more powerful than ever, this will be an epic experience for fans and newcomers alike.”
The film is slated to come out on April 6, 2012–coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail. We this much thought and effort being put into this conversion, it seems to me that this is something that Cameron wanted to do and seems to be doing it from an artistic perspective. Will people go out and see it? I’m sure some will, especially those that are big fans of the film.
The case of converting and bring back Top Gun though, doesn’t appear to be from an artistic standpoint, but from an economic one. To quote from the THR.com article:
“We think there is great potential for catalog titles in 3D, but studios have had trouble justifying the expense,” Hummel said [CEO of Legend 3D], explaining that Legend 3D is funding and doing the conversion for Paramount.
In this case the company behind the conversion seems to be spearheading the effort to convert Top Gun–not the studio or not director Tony Scott. “How nice of them,” you might say for footing the bill and doing the work. Well, just remember, nothing in life is ever free. If you continue reading the piece this quote was drawn from, it says Legend 3D has a revenue sharing partnership with Paramount so they will see some return on their work. However, I suspect that the real reason for doing it is because if they can show what a great job they’ve done on Top Gun, who’s to say other studios or even Paramount might come to them to convert other older films into 3D. I guarantee you they won’t be doing those for free.
In the grand scheme of things I can’t get excited for these 3D releases at all. I just dislike 3D too much. I don’t like the glasses and I don’t like the darkened picture you get while watching 3D movies. Be it for artistic reasons or economic reasons, I’ll probably be staying away from these 3D releases next year.