Paramount obviously doesn’t need to expend much energy to raise awareness about the forthcoming Titanic 3D (4.4). Diehards who saw and worshipped James Cameron‘s 1997 blockbuster 15 years ago will cough up for a somewhat darker stereoscopic version no matter what. There is, however, a second target audience — i.e., the wait-and-see crowd who aren’t sure how good the 3D conversion will be, and are waiting for buzz.
Well, guess what? They aren’t going to hear any buzz until the night before Titanic 3D opens (i.e., Tuesday, April 3rd) because Paramount apparently won’t be screening it anywhere for anyone — not for press, not for fans — for the next 33 or 34 days.
Or so it appears. Maybe they’re planing some private industry screenings I haven’t heard about. I’ve written Paramount to make sure that the 4.3 preview really will be the only peek-out between now and then, and to convey my surprise that they would go dark for this long a period.
A neutral observer would say that Paramount miscalculated by inviting Roger Ebert and David Poland to special Valentine’s Day screenings of Titanic 3D on Tuesday, 2.14, because Ebert and Poland both panned the 3D presentation, more or less. It appears that Paramount doesn’t want to attract any more “too dark and filtered” responses so they’ve parked the car and turned off the engine.
The Ebert-Poland reactions haven’t stopped writers like Cinema Blend‘s Kelly West from expressing optimism (“I’m hoping that the film will prove to be a fine example of how a movie can benefit from a 3D make-over,” she wrote earlier today), but Paramount has apparently decided they can only devalue the brand by sneaking Titanic 3D any further so that’s all she wrote for the month of March.
I’ve always liked Titanic, and I definitely love the last 25 to 30 minutes. I’ve said that for years. So it’s been my interest all along to savor Titanic 3D under the finest theatrical projection standards possible. The piece I posted yesterday suggested that a darker filtered image with a foot lambert range of roughly 4 or less is what the general public is going to see. I’d love to see something brighter and more satisfying than what Ebert and Poland said they saw, and maybe that’ll be the case when I see it on 4.3. Here’s hoping.
I spoke earlier today to Boston Light and Sound’s Chapin Cutler, who said he had no knowledge or insights about Titanic 3D‘s presentation. He did, however, repeat the basics: “3D in general is dark. The common specs are real dark and it is not uncommon for 3D to be run at 3 to 4 foot lamberts. Although there are [ways] to raise the illumination levels in cinemas, that is really hard on big screens given the 10 to 15% efficiency of 3D systems.”
Either way I would love to be able to see Titanic 3D under optimum conditions. Meaning that I’d love to be able to see it under better conditions than the general public will be paying to see. Is there going to be a screening at some high-end post-production facility between now and the 4.4. opening? A screening room that offers optimum conditions, I mean? Has any thought been given to the Panavision 3D option, an integrated image-enhancement system that works with all maor 3D projectors except Sony’s?
Yesterday’s article passed along a testimonial from respected projection consultant James Bond that Panavision 3D would enhance the presentation of Titanic 3D. (I don’t personally know that it would enhance the film’s appearance — I’ve just been told that.) Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be attending a demonstration of Panavision 3D at Panavision’s Woodland Hills headquarters.
Update: N.Y. Post critic Lou Lumenick also saw Titanic 3D on 2.14, and posted a rave. He also tweeted the following in response to this piece: (a) “I saw Titanic 3-D on 2/14 at the AMC Loews 34th St. and it looks great, works wonderfully”; (b) “It wasn’t at all like Transformers 3, [in which] some of the daytime scenes looked like they were filmed at night”; (c) “I’ve been enormously critical of 3D, especially lousy post-conversions. But based on this, I’d like to see a 3D Wizard of Oz“; (d) “Based on the wild anticipation at the 2.14 screening, I’m not sure Paramount really needs to screen this for critics at all.”
All of this sounds great, but what, one wonders, were Roger Ebert and David Poland on about when they complained? Were they both unlucky in that the 3D projection they saw in Chicago and Burbank, respectively, wasn’t as good as what Lumenick saw in NYC? Weird.