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Finding Nemo re-release sinks in pointless 3-D
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Finding Nemo 3D

Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett

Rated: G

Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Bottom line: Not worth the premium price

Disney/Pixar roll out its latest 3-D re-release this week, and unlike the original film itself, the 3-D version of “Finding Nemo” barely makes a splash.

“Finding Nemo” is a genuinely great family film, one of Pixar’s best. The story of father and son clownfish who battle ocean-sized odds to reunite is still as moving as ever.

But the movie gains nothing from the 3-D format.

The original animation brought the underwater world of “Finding Nemo” to life with breathtaking artistry and meticulous detail. We could see each minute floating spec, each scale and tooth, each wafting current and each undulation of coral wildlife.

Ironically, Pixar did such a magnificent job of lending the two-dimensional “Finding Nemo” the illusion of three dimensions that a 3-D retro-conversion is redundant.

If you think that’s the opinion of a cynical reviewer, take the word of my 7-year old, who said without hesitation that the 3-D “didn’t add anything” to the movie he already loved.

I can give very specific recommendations for this movie.

If your children have not seen “Finding Nemo,” this is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to it. In two or three dimensions, this movie is much better on a big screen.

But if your children have already seen the movie, there’s no reason for you to shell out the premium ticket prices for “Finding Nemo 3-D.”

With each new Disney 3-D re-release, I am reminded more and more of the Mouse House’s old strategy of placing their movies “in the vault.” They’d announce that after a month or so, you won’t be able to buy home video copies of a particular movie for many years.

The “in the vault” tactic was a tried-and-true sales strategy, a way to instill fear of loss into parents that didn’t yet own the movie. “This is your last chance to buy it for long, long time,” said Uncle Walt. But he was really saying, “What a bad parent you’ll be for denying Little Suzy her own copy of ‘The Little Mermaid!’”

The difference between that home video marketing strategy and these 3-D re-releases is that these movies are not going to disappear from home video any time soon. There is no fear of loss. Disney/Pixar movies are readily available on DVD, Blu-Ray and via a variety of streaming services.

The only draw to “Finding Nemo” is the big screen 3-D format, but market figures show quite clearly that moviegoers’ interest in 3-D is already waning.

That’s actually putting it mildly if you look at the percentage of 3-D ticket sales for movies that are released in both 2-D and 3-D formats. Over the past three years, the percentage of 3-D sales has plummeted, especially among family films.

During its December 2009 through Spring 2010 theatrical run, 83 percent of the domestic gross for “Avatar” came from 3-D. “Toy Story 3” earned 56 percent of its gross from 3-D in Summer 2010. The industry was convinced 3-D was going to be its savior, so they went all in, crowding 3-D screens with content.

Fast forward to Summer 2012. “Brave” earned a mere 32 percent of its gross from 3-D during its opening weekend. “Madagascar 3” earned 38 percent from 3-D.

These figures have become the norm, with most movies released in both formats drawing only around 35 percent of their sales from 3-D.

The trend is the same for 3-D on the small screen. Sales of 3-D TVs have been hugely disappointing to manufacturers, who once trumpeted 3-D as the wave of the future.

Not even two years into that wave, though, those companies are predicting that only about 30 percent of new TVs purchased in 2012 will be 3-D.

Obviously, people just aren’t impressed by the format.

Don’t pay the high ticket prices for “Finding Nemo 3-D.” Instead, pop it into your old-fashioned VCR, DVD or Blu-Ray, watch it on your crummy 2D television and be reminded that great movies don’t need gimmicks.

Jeff Marker teaches film and literature at Gainesville State College. His reviews appear weekly in Get Out and on gainesvilletimes.com/getout.

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