There’s been a backlash against 3D lately, and studios are feeling the hurt. Films like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Green Lantern have sold more tickets in 2D than in 3D, with a big complaint among audience members being the dimness of the image being projected.
Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay have taken notice, and are taking measures to pump up the brightness for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. They are releasing a special mastered digital print that aims to deliver almost twice the brightness of standard 3D projection.
Interestingly, Paramount has also taken the step of telling theaters that they must show the digital print if the theater is equipped; 35mm Technicolor prints are unacceptable if the theater has digital available. And they are also insisting on a four-week minimum release for Dark of the Moon in digital. (That’s quite a tactic to squeeze Cars 2 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II out of 3D theaters.)
It sounds like Bay and his studio are insisting on the best possible exhibition of Transformers for audiences (much like James Cameron did with Avatar), but what does this really mean for the theaters themselves? In a lot of cases, the way theaters handle 3D has been hurting the format: The brighter projection of Dark of the Moon will mean that theaters burn through highly expensive projection bulbs a lot faster. (In past cases, theaters have been turning down the intensity of said bulbs, prolonging their life, but darkening the picture for audiences.)
It sounds like Paramount is telling the theaters to fork over the dough to give their audience the best possible experience, and squeeze out the competition in the process. Nice, in theory, for people who want to see Transformers 3, but this is quite a tactic for the follow-up to one of the most maligned movies of 2009.
And another question: Will they advertise the fact that some 3D theaters will offer a better picture quality than others when there is no price difference?