It seemed like 3D was having itself a little moment there for a while, spurred on by the success of James Cameron’s Avatar back in 2009. But it seems like the 3D era is nearing an end, as 3D’s biggest supporter, IMAX, has made the decision to focus more on 2D screenings of Hollywood tentpoles, citing a “clear preference” amongst consumers.
IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond told The Hollywood Reporter that the company would be shifting its focus from 3D to 2D screenings, because, simply put, more people want to see movies in two dimensions than shell out for three. Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster confirmed that, “The demand for 2D films is starting to exceed 3D in North America.” Blade Runner 2049 will only be shown in 2D in IMAX when it’s released this fall.
IMAX theaters will also shorten the runtime of a lot of movies to “keep the content on screen fresh,” Gelfond said. So there’ll be less time to catch a movie on an IMAX screen once this new business model goes into effect. Movies that were shot on IMAX cameras, such as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, will have longer runs. It’ll be interesting to see whether this helps or hurts the company, since, for many, part of the appeal of IMAX 3D is the whole overwhelming multidimensional experience. On the other hand, 2D is cheaper, and plenty of folks eschew 3D because it’s too expensive, it gives them headaches (guilty), or plenty of other reasons.
Plus there are plenty of draws to seeing a movie in IMAX, regardless of 2D or 3D. The aforementioned Dunkirk is even more sweeping in scope when you see it in IMAX’s truly giant aspect ratio. Avengers: Infinity War and it’s still untitled sequel will mark the first time a film has been shot entirely by using the IMAX/Arri 2D digital camera and IMAX’s exclusive aspect ratio.