James Cameron wants you to know 3D isn’t dead just yet. The format was revitalized with the release of Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster “Avatar,” which remains the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide with $2.8 billion. “Avatar” was quickly followed by Tim Burton’s 3D “Alice in Wonderland,” which further proved the bonafides of a 3D release with its $1 billion worldwide gross. Countless 3D films followed, from comic book films to studio projects like “Gravity” and “Life of Pi.” A 3D release no longer holds much sway over audiences, although Cameron refutes the claim that it’s fully dead.
“3D appears to most people to sort of be ‘over.’ But it’s really not over. It’s just been accepted,” Cameron said during a roundtable to promote the upcoming “Avatar” re-release (via /Film). “It’s just now a part of your choices when you go to the theater to see a big blockbuster movie.”
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“I liken it to color,” the filmmaker continued. “When color films first came out, it was a big deal. People would go to see movies because they were in color. I think around the time of ‘Avatar,’ people used to go to see movies because they were in 3D… I think it had an impact on how films were presented that’s now just sort of accepted and part of the zeitgeist and how it’s done.”
As Cameron noted, 3D films were widely embraced by critics and audiences for a stretch of time in the 2010s. The director said, “‘Avatar’ won the best cinematography with a 3D digital camera. No digital camera had ever won the best cinematography Oscar before. Then two out of the three subsequent years, the same cameras were used by the cinematographers that won the Oscar. So you got three out of four years where the Academy embraced digital cinematography. And all three of those films were in 3D.”
Whether Cameron can revive interest in 3D filmmaking with the upcoming “Avatar” sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” remains to be seen. The original “Avatar” is returning to theaters in its 3D format on Sept. 23. “Avatar: The Way of Water” debuts in theaters on Dec. 16.
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