3D Movies Not Just A Fad Anymore From Alice in Wonderland in March to this weekend's release of Gulliver's Travels, 2010 was the year of 3D movies. There were 23 released, compared with two a few years ago -- and there may be even more in 2011. NPR's film critic Bob Mondello explains why they're not just a fad -- and what to watch for next year.
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3D Movies Not Just A Fad Anymore

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3D Movies Not Just A Fad Anymore

3D Movies Not Just A Fad Anymore

3D Movies Not Just A Fad Anymore

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/132348221/132348305" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From Alice in Wonderland in March to this weekend's release of Gulliver's Travels, 2010 was the year of 3D movies. There were 23 released, compared with two a few years ago — and there may be even more in 2011. NPR's film critic Bob Mondello explains why they're not just a fad — and what to watch for next year.

GUY RAZ, host:

Well, of the movies that did get released this year, it seemed like a lot of them were made in 3D, from "Alice in Wonderland" in March to this weekend's release of "Gulliver's Travels." 2010 was the year of 3D movies.

And our film critic, Bob Mondello, I believe is considering whether to file a disability claim after having to sit through all of them, Bob.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BOB MONDELLO: Just for eyesight, I think.

RAZ: And by the way, if you're looking for a good eye doctor, Bob, we can talk after the show.

MONDELLO: Okay.

RAZ: Anyway, I'm curious about this trend, Bob. And in honor of this conversation, I have asked our engineer, Sean Phillips, to work his magic so we can have this conversation, the first radio conversation in 3D ever, ever recorded. Sean, can you hit it?

MONDELLO: Ooh, sounds interesting.

(Soundbite of echo effects)

RAZ: Welcome back to the program.

MONDELLO: Why, thank you. It's very exciting to be here. I feel like I have added depth.

RAZ: Yeah, this is going to be a historic moment in radio history. But I don't know how long I can tolerate it. Shall we kill the historic moment?

MONDELLO: Oh, I'm all for it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONDELLO: That was wild.

RAZ: We are back to our one-dimensional selves, Bob, you and I.

MONDELLO: One dimension.

RAZ: I know that there were a lot of 3D movies this year, and I've seen, you know, ads all over the place. But did they do well? I mean, was Hollywood's effort worth it?

MONDELLO: Oh, they were huge. I mean, that's actually the big deal this year. Let me see, five of the top 10 movies of the year were in 3D: "Toy Story 3," "Alice in Wonderland," "Despicable Me," "Shrek Forever After" and "How to Train Your Dragon."

RAZ: Wow.

MONDELLO: And if you go a little further, 10 of the top 20. I was doing the calculations, and they made something over $2 billion.

RAZ: Now, when I've been in the theaters watching a 3D film, and you go to the theaters, obviously, but a lot of times, you're watching it with fellow movie critics. Do other movie critics do what regular people do in the theater, they'll start to sort of reach out into thin air in front of them?

MONDELLO: I can tell you that we all did it on "U2 3D." All of us, I mean, there was a point where I actually almost tapped the guy in front of me on the shoulder and asked him to put down his hands until I realized they weren't his hands.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONDELLO: Because it looked like everybody was waving their arms in the air.

RAZ: Did you touch Bono?

MONDELLO: I would have reached out and touched Bono. That would have been very exciting.

RAZ: Why now? Why is 3D coming back now?

MONDELLO: Well, I remember a couple of years ago, Jeffrey Katzenberg came to town. He was wandering all over the country talking to critics about this neat new format he had. And it wasn't really new. It was 3D, and we all knew about that. And it was hard to get very excited.

And then he started showing us some clips. And you suddenly realized what this would do. When something was in 3D, if you took off the glasses briefly, and you looked at the screen, it's all fuzzy. And it was clear that this was designed to keep people from pirating movies.

RAZ: Oh.

MONDELLO: That you can't take a picture of the screen, and...

RAZ: So you can't pirate these movies.

MONDELLO: You can't pirate the movies.

RAZ: Out of all the 3D films made this year, were they all conceived as 3D films, or were...

MONDELLO: Boy, I wish.

RAZ: Yeah, I mean, so some of them were made originally 2D and then sort of 3D-ified?

MONDELLO: Yeah, 3D-ified. That's a nice - deified, almost. They tried to add a dimension to "Clash of the Titans," and it looked silly. It looked like a pop-up book or something like that where the images in front were just pushed to a different place.

RAZ: But it still made a lot of money.

MONDELLO: It did make a lot of money. It was up there in the top 20. But, you know, it really wasn't good. When they go back and do this afterwards, and it's not a digital animation picture, where if you have the original digital images, it's easy to manipulate them. But if it's photography, you can't re-shoot it in 3D.

Actually, Jim Cameron, who did "Avatar," is going to go back and make a 3D version of "Titanic," and I'll bet that'll be interesting because if anybody is going to do this right, it's him.

RAZ: Bob, as we look ahead to 2011, are there any films that interest you, any 3D films?

MONDELLO: Actually, there are a couple that I'm intrigued by because I've seen the trailers. And I know this is going to sound silly: "Mars Needs Moms" from Disney. Sounds really silly, but it has a very basic premise.

(Soundbite of movie, "Mars Needs Moms")

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Actress: What is going on?

Mr. SETH GREEN (Actor): (As Milo) The fact is, Mars needs moms.

Mr. DAN FOGLER (Actor): (As Gribble) So the aliens are stealing them from Earth to raise their own kids.

MONDELLO: And there's another one called "Rio," which is from the "Ice Age" folks, and I like those pictures. It's about a macaw that has lived all its life in a cage and then gets out in Brazil and has to learn to fly.

(Soundbite of movie, "Rio")

Ms. ANNE HATHAWAY (Actor): (As Jewel) Bobo here can't fly.

Mr. GEORGE LOPEZ (Actor): (As Bobo) Don't worry, Blu, it's in your DNA.

(Soundbite of screaming)

Mr. LOPEZ (Actor): (As Bobo) Fun, right?

MONDELLO: Now, flying is something that is perfect for 3D, right? I mean, all the - oh, my God, I'm up high. So I'm looking forward to both of those.

(Soundbite of echo effects)

RAZ: That's our film critic Bob Mondello, here in 3D in the studio. Thank you for...

MONDELLO: Woo-hoo. I'm flying.

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