Filmism.net Dispatch October 24, 2014

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Hollywood's latest trick to get us back to cinemas has now made itself known.

The last one, of course, was 3D. By the time Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland hit screens in 2010, the jig was already up. After James Cameron's technical mastery taking us all to Pandora the year before in Avatar, we might have believed 3D was the future (again).

But Disney lazily retrofitted Burton's overblown epic after the fact (Burton said he'd never allow a 3D camera on his set). A movie that wasn't very good to start with was made more expensive to no tangible creative effect, and the billion-dollar haul told us all we needed to know about the new Hollywood (and ourselves), including the fact that we'd soon be drowning in 3D.

3D became the latest weapon in cinema's arsenal to drag us back to movie theatres and away from the newest threat (see television, plasma screens, VOD, Playstations, etc. It's an old story).

But the road to desperate profitability has become littered with the corpses of a thousand failed projects where ever-canny audiences have seen through the hustle. 3D wasn't a way of making the experience more immersive as a million breathless studio press releases panted, it was a way for them to foist the same crap on us at jacked up prices.

3D's not over, as people from Jeffrey Katzenberg to Peter Jackson will tell you. But any teenager in the box office queue on a Friday night will tell you it's not enough to sell a movie anymore (if it ever was).

Now, we're already seeing the next experiment Hollywood's launching to convince us the movie theatre is where it's at. Like every trend there's no central authority that's rubber stamped this, it's the unseen hand of market dynamics on a global scale. As always, if they make enough of them and we keep driving them to the top of the box office, they'll become the next Next Big Thing.

'They' are big movies. I know, every movie is big, projected as it is onto a forty-foot screen. But one of the reasons VOD is becoming so popular (to say nothing of the big screen TV in your living room) is because so few movies are truly cinematic.

Now, Hollywood's learning what some of us already know. Some movies can only really be appreciated on the big screen with the ground-shaking sound only a theatre full of giant speakers can produce.

Not every big movie has been a smash hit so far. Neither Cloud Atlas nor Pacific Rim ran away with the box office, but they were the first major movies in what felt like forever where the cinema itself was a crucial part of the experience.

(Funnily enough, Pacific Rim was also in 3D, but it worked for the same reason Avatar did. Director Guillermo Del Toro took the time to craft the perspective instead of just delivering the movie to Warner Brothers and letting them whack it through the 3D software.)

Since then we've had several more 'big' films that have busted block aplenty. The box office reception to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla convinced Warner Bros to throw wads of money at a sequel. In fact at this stage we'll probably see a whole new Godzilla universe, like the series Toho milked to such effect in the 1950s.

Beyond that, what else was announced at 2014 Comic Con but the King Kong origin story Skull Island (coming from Godzilla and Pacific Rim production company Legendary, now at home at Universal after jumping ship from Warner Bros).

The Shadow of the Colossus adaptation has also had forward motion with the appointment of a director. It's based on a video game, but featuring a hero battling giant stone creatures, you can imagine the development executives dreaming about the trailer full of giant creature money shots already.

In a world where every summer movie is a blockbuster, we need blockbuster blockbusters, event movies where the event is something where the gap between the movie and the iPad screen is just too wide.

On screens since we spoke last, I think I'm the only person who didn't like John Wick. Even Keanu Reeves said when I interviewed him that we'd seen this character before. So, 'new' style notwithstanding, do we really need to see it another doezn times? I was also really disappointed by Muppets Most Wanted, but at least I didn't feel so alone in that opinion.

But the big news is Interstellar. I won't wax lyrical here too much but just... wow. As I suspected, former best movie of 2014 Whiplash didn't hold the top spot for too long. Just see it soon before the inevitable backlash arises in response to the deafening hype.

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