Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
At last year’s theatrical exhibitors ShoWest convention, Michael Bay voiced the following unpopular statement in front of a room full of theater owners: “I think [3d] might be a gimmick.” But after Avatar changed the game, Paramount began pushing the director to produce Transformers 3 in 3D. Bay even showed signs of budging. But it doesn’t look like the filmmaker will shoot the threequel, or even segments of the film, in 3D after all.
Mike Fleming reports that Bay not only investigated shooting Transformers 3 using 3D cameras (concluding of course that the equipment is “too heavy and cumbersome for the fast pace action scenes he shoots”) but the director also sent footage from the previous Transformers films for the 3D upconversion tests. His conclusion thus far is that it is post 3D upconversion is a gimmick. I’m actually in total agreement (you can read my thoughts about the upcoming 3D upconversion of Clash of the Titans here). I highly reccomend that everyone read Bay’s quote after the jump.
“I shoot complicated stuff, I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process. … I am trying to be sold, and some companies are still working on the shots I gave them. Right now, it looks like fake 3D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice. … I’m used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3D. Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not. Avatar took four years. You can’t just shit out a 3D movie. I’m saying, the jury is still out.”
Bay also disputes the reported estimated $100,000 per minute conversation cost, claiming that the actual numbers are between $120,000 to $150,000 per minute. This means that a top price conversion of Transformers 3 could cost over $30 million.
I’m sure that the movie studio can easily prove that releasing a film in 3D vs. 2D would likely result in much more than the $30 million up-conversion investment. Bay has a lot of control as a filmmaker, more than most. But does he have enough pull to convince Paramount/Dreamworks into releasing the film as a 2D presentation, possibly leaving hundreds of millions on the hypothetical table?