3-D, lost gimmick of the '50s, returns in a form that may finally succeed
Yes, 3-D is back. The great lost gimmick of the 1950s has finally caught on. If you don't believe it, check the ticket sales for the current 3-D hit, ''Friday the 13th Part 3'' - a pointless and hokey piece of junk, but burning up the box office from coast to coast and soon to have its debut in Europe.Skip to next paragraph
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Why has this movie triumphed? According to the entertainment newspaper Variety, it's largely because of a technical revolution in the 3-D projection process. It has always been difficult to outfit theaters with 3-D equipment. Now , however, a determined producer named Frank Mancuso Jr. has sparked the design of a whole new 3-D projection method. His idea was to come up with a foolproof system that would deliver a consistently good image in theaters of any kind or size, thus overcoming skepticism and ingrained resistance to the process.
The expense - footed by Paramount Pictures - reportedly came to around $2 million, which is about what it cost to make ''Friday the 13th Part 3'' itself. The most important breakthrough is a new kind of 3-D lens that fits on a projector just like a normal or wide-screen lens. This not only guarantees the quality of the image from one theater to another, it also reduces the bother and expense when theaters ''convert'' for 3-D showings.
The results have been dramatic. In the past, 3-D movies were treated as novelties and only released at a handful of theaters. By contrast, ''Friday the 13th Part 3'' opened in more than 1,000 theaters. And in its first weekend it earned almost $10 million, pushing even the beloved ''E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial'' into the No. 2 spot!
Now, says Variety, the overjoyed folks at Paramount are mobilizing their international work force for a similar ''saturation'' launch of the picture overseas. And the ''Friday'' filmmakers are reportedly preparing a sci-fi space comedy, shot with a new camera system that will allow whole scenes to take place off the screen and over the audience's heads. This time, the rating promises to be PG, reflecting a lighter mood and none of the foolish ''Friday'' ghoulishness.
Meanwhile, other studios are eyeing 3-D. Most notably, Universal Pictures is working on the first big-budget feature ever shot in the process. The title? ''Jaws 3-D.'' Oh well, it had to happen sooner or later.