Will Iron Man 2 Go 3D?

September 2, 2009

Nothing excites executives more than the prospect of a blockbuster -- unless, of course, they can find a way to squeeze even more money out of that blockbuster. That's exactly what might happen if the men in black at Marvel and Paramount convert Iron Man 2 into a 3D feature. But since the film wasn't shot in 3D, is this a good idea?

Lots of movie blogs are saying, categorically, no. Why is this? Well, to begin with, director Jon Favreau's cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, likes to shoot on film.

For "real" 3D (i.e., footage shot from the beginning with the express purpose of it being viewed in 3D in theaters) you've got to shoot with digital cameras, and you've got to shoot every scene with two cameras. It's not possible to reproduce this effect after the fact with live action if the film hasn't originally been shot in 3D, as you can't film the scene over with a second camera without use of time travel -- or, in this case, an extremely expensive and somewhat ineffectual post process.

Ain't It Cool says this about the possible conversion:

Right now, there is a one minute demo of Iron Man 2 converted to high quality digital 3D. I'm told this one minute is totally like Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks. HOT! Crazy Hot! Right now the suits at Marvel and Paramount and now also Disney are considering this one minute.

At the same time that this is happening, they are fishing for bids with three different companies to see what the cost and time it would take to convert Iron Man 2 to a complete 3D film. This same process is being done to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland...

However, other blogs are less enthusiastic about this prospect for the reasons stated above. When movies are converted to 3D after the fact the results are often unimpressive, as evidenced by footage shown of the rerelease of Beauty and the Beast at this year's Comic-Con, as well as The Nightmare Before Christmas. The end result had a flat, layered look to it, like you were watching an intricate movie starring paper cut-outs.

Slash Film said this about converting films shot in 2D to 3D:

The few live action 3D films have mostly been shot using 3D cameras, which essentially feature two lenses, one for each eye. Many of the films you see in 3D today were animated using a computer, created in a 3D digital environment, and rendered twice. If Disney wants to convert Toy Story into 3D, they return to the original animation files and render the movie with a second eye camera (there is more to it, but I’m trying to keep this simple). But with a live action film, there is no way to return to the original digital files, because there are none. ...I don’t yet believe that 3D created as a post process is ready for prime-time, and neither does George Lucas. There is a reason why you haven’t seen the original Star Wars films rereleased in 3D yet, even though he announced the possibility in 2005.

So, in short, turning Iron Man 2 (and possibly Iron Man) into a 3D film after it was shot in 2D is more an attempt at wringing yet more money from this lucrative franchise, and less about giving audiences the best possible cinematic experience. According to First Showing, even James Cameron, the present avatar of 3D (get it?), says, "It doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D." He also criticized the red-and-blue 3D movies on DVDs, saying it was "stunting 3D growth."

That said, would you like to see Iron Man 3 wearing 3D specs? If Marvel and Paramount are going to splurge on 3D anyway, would this make you more likely to see it twice, or thrice? Should more movies shot in 2D go 3D?

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