Dreamworks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg Laments the Decline in 3D Sales, Blames Everyone Else

If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, then you already know of my general dislike for all things 3D. I just don’t see the point. Even with a movie like “Avatar”, it does nothing for me. They’re still blue CG people running around on the big screen having tail sex with their environment. The fact that weird alien plant life is also popping out at me makes absolutely no difference.

In recent months, Hollywood-produced 3D movies have taken a bit of a hit at the domestic market. The New York Times recently did a story on it. The Hollywood Reporter has now followed suit with their own story, this one featuring an interview with Dreamworks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg. The big warning bell to the Hollywood suits seems to be the Stateside performances of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Kung Fu Panda 2”, two films made in (and heavily promoted as) 3D that saw more ticket sales for 2D versions than their 3D counterpart.

According to Katzenberg, the problem isn’t audiences turning away from 3D films in general, it’s all the fault of those bad 3D films trying to cash in on the fad.

I think 3D is right smack in the middle of its terrible twos. We have disappointed our audience multiple times now, and because of that I think there is genuine distrust — whereas a year and a half ago, there was genuine excitement, enthusiasm and reward for the first group of 3D films that actually delivered a quality experience. Now that’s been seriously undermined.

It’s not in any fashion, shape or form the demise of 3D, but until there are 3D experiences that exceed people’s expectations, it’s going to stay challenged.” He predicts that Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” will do just that.

It’s really heartbreaking to see what has been the single greatest opportunity that has happened to the film business in over a decade being harmed. The audience has spoken, and they have spoken really loudly.

Heartbroken or not, ol Katz is still bullish on the technology, and he best be, since pretty much every title his DreamWorks Animation is putting out now and in the foreseeable future will be in 3D. The man has a lot invested in those little fake plastic glasses.

We’re not the problem. We have made five films now in 3D and have built this amazing reservoir of knowledge and tools. Nobody else has made five 3D movies back to back. You can see the quality of the experience increasing with every film. The cost has gone down significantly for us the last three years, and there is still meaningful, incremental profit to us, even though the size of our audience has narrowed. On every account for us, 3D is a win. It’s not nearly as big a win as it should be, and it’s certainly not the win it was headed toward being, and that’s really heartbreaking to me because we have managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory as only Hollywood can do.

Of course, Katz and his fellow 3D lovers can also take solace in the fact that while the demand for 3D in the U.S. is declining, it’s growing, and just really getting started, overseas. After all, when you hear about Hong Kong and China and other countries touting their “first ever” native movies in 3D, that sort of gives you an idea of where the trend is now. Which is, the International audience is catching up, and 3D hasn’t even begun to overstay their welcome at the foreign box office yet.

Give it another two or three years, though. When it does finally die, I will dance a jig on its grave while wearing uncomfortable plastic glasses.