5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About 3-D Movies

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As movie studios compete and filmmaking technology advances, moviegoers have more choices than ever. Extra-large screens, reserved seating and the latest sound systems are all available at select theaters, but 3-D is the most visible and game-changing option out there. Whatever your take on 3-D movies, there are probably a few things about the format that you never knew.

5 They’re On the Move

Watching a 3-D movie is usually a theater experience, complete with popcorn and reusable, borrowed glasses. But 3-D television technology is maturing quickly. The 3-D televisions already on the market will be replaced by more affordable next-generation sets that use polarizing filters to create a 3-D illusion without the need for glasses. Smartphones and tablets capable of showing 3-D movies on the go will take their places alongside standard 2-D counterparts as broadcasters and Internet-streaming services offer 3-D streams, bringing the 3-D movie experience to any location with a Wi-Fi connection.

4 Any Movie Can Be 3-D

By scanning an existing film and digitally manipulating each frame, filmmakers can convert any movie into 3-D. This process, known as 3-D conversion, allows studios to re-release classics in the new format without shooting a single reel of new film. 3-D conversions include blockbusters, such as “Titanic,” and family classics, such as Disney’s “The Lion King,” which were made long before 3-D movie technology had matured.

3 They Make Big Money

While some 3-D movies are forgettable spectacles, others are among the most important and memorable films being made each year. According to Box Office Mojo, half of the top 10 domestic grossing films of 2012 were released in 3-D formats. Those five films made more than $1.5 billion in the United States alone, much of it coming from premium tickets sold to 3-D screenings. The all-time highest grossing film, “Avatar,” was another 3-D selection with major profitability.

2 Not All 3-D is Created Equal

Theaters and critics talk about 3-D movies as if they’re a single category of specially made movies. There are actually several different formats of 3-D available. Some use passive glasses, which simply filter light in a way that creates the feeling of depth. Others use glasses with special shutters that block out the image to each eye for a split second. Other 3-D methods, such as projecting onto a reflective silver screen, have been left behind as filmmaking technology advances.

1 They’re Older Than You Think

3-D movies might seem like a recent fad. To older moviegoers, they might be remembered as a revival of a 1950s gimmick, intended to get young people away from their TVs and into movie theaters. In fact, 3-D movies have been around since the 1920s. While technology certainly wasn’t what it is today, audiences nevertheless donned special glasses for a more immersive experience, almost a century ago.

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