26 March 2012

Author Sonny Hartland

Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park turns 20 next year, and to commemorate this it is getting a re-release in Hollywood's favourite gimmick, 3D. Now, don't get me wrong, I quite like the idea of seeing films in 3D, but there is a big difference between a film being made in 3D and a film being converted to 3D. And there's a bigger difference yet between converting a film to 3D to make a better film and converting a film to 3D to empty film-goers' wallets one more time.

Final Destination 5 was made in 3D, and benefitted massively from it. The famous bridge scene, the tools flying at people, the acupuncturing en masse, it all worked as it was all designed for 3D. In 2D, I think this would have been a very easily forgotten film, as all the talking points were about the effect, not the story. the story is old hat. In 2D, this would have been a film largely for devotees and completists. The rest of us wouldn't have cared too much.

Jurassic Park probably should have been made in 3D in the first place, had technology allowed. Who wouldn't want to see a T.Rex eating a solicitor as if it was right there in the room? But it was made in 2D - and do you know what? We still loved it. We gasped at the right places, our, "oohs," and our, "ahs," were all exactly where they were meant to be, and we went home thinking, "That was brilliant". Seeing it in 3D won't really change that at all, because those who have seen it before will know what's coming, and those who haven't would have been no less amazed in 1993, in 2D.

Jurassic Park isn't the only film getting this kind of makeover. Star Wars Episode I  has been converted, as have Titanic and The Lion King. All of these films sit in the list of the top 20 highest-grossing films of all time. Put plainly, all these films have already made at least $618m at the global box, and now the producers are back for more. And a lot of us will pay it, because we're fans. Because we loved the film the first time, we'll pay the second time. 

A limited and timely re-release of a classic film to give film-goers the chance to see it on the big screen - now of that I'm wholeheartedly in favour. It's a Wonderful Life at Christmas? Casablanca on Valentine's Day? I'd be first in line for my tickets. But rehashing classics by adding in new gimmicks feels a little like producers and distributors are focusing more on the balance sheet than on originality - which is a shame, because as the original Jurassic Park, Lion King and Star Wars films all go to show, you don't need to rehash films to make a classic or a box office hit.