3D: The Future Of Movies, The Death Of Comedy

By now, you know that 3D is taking over your local multiplex in a hurry. With “Avatar,” “Alice In Wonderland,” and “Clash Of the Titans” all raking in gobs and gobs of cash, it won’t be long before every auditorium in every movie theater is equipped with a digital 3D projector. As of now, there are only roughly 2,500 3D screens in America. That number will change. Very soon. And it will come at the expense of 2D movies.

In a seemingly unrelated story, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are still struggling, to little avail, to get a Anchorman sequel made over at Paramount. The sides can’t agree on money, since the movie was a success here in the U.S., but a dud internationally (which means everything to Hollywood). But I’m sure there’s a lurking ulterior reason the movie is having a hard time getting made. I’m sure someone at Paramount has looked at the idea of “Anchorman 2” and asked a bunch of people eating sandwiches in a conference room, “Will this play in 3D?”

The answer to that question is probably not. There are any number of decent phallic jokes to be made in a medium that pops out of the screen, but live action comedy isn’t a genre suited to three dimensions. 3D is for big action movies, with the comedic heavy lifting done by some sort of jive talking robot sidekick. Pure comedies starring people and not talking fish, like “Anchorman 2,” have little place in the new hierarchy.

Comedy has always been second banana in Hollywood. Comedies never win Oscars. Comedies are never given high budgets (except in the case of “Pluto Nash”), because they usually require no effects and comedy doesn’t translate well overseas. Despite the success of “The Hangover” and Judd Apatow’s first two movies, comedy is still Hollywood’s stepchild. And with 3D taking over, it’s possible Hollywood could lock it away in an even more remote part the house. Possibly the attic.

Think about it. You’re the consumer walking into the movie theater. Every screen is in 3D and IMAX. Every ticket costs $16.50. Are you going to use that considerable amount of cash to watch a comedy, or will you spring for “Avatar 6,” or some other action flick that uses every tool in the box? The movie that will give you the most (literal) bang for your buck? After all, you can watch the comedy when it comes out DVD. What are you losing by watching it on TV? Likely not much.

I know I can think this way when going to the movies now, and the 3D takeover isn’t even finished yet. That kind of decision-making process is weighing heavily on studios’ minds right this instant. It’s what could end up pushing major comedies completely out of the theater. And if you don’t think movie comedies are already in deep trouble, then you didn’t go see “The Bounty Hunter.” No, really. You didn’t. The grosses say so.

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