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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What should we call fake 3D so it’s not confused with the real deal?

I love those simulator rides you find in theme parks. You know the ones: You strap yourself in to a comfy chair and then the whole room moves around in coordination with the image on the movie screen before you, creating the sense that you’re actually, say, flying.

But once, on one of those rides, something went wrong, and the still image that had been on the screen before the ride began was not turned off once the film started. So while the entire room moved around in concert with the moving image before us, the still image was still there, too, which not only ruined the illusion, it confused my brain so much that I had to close my eyes. The trickery that works so well to convince your body that you’re moving in ways that you aren’t had itself been tricked into making me feel not only physically but psychologically uncomfortable.

The epically awful fake 3D of Clash of the Titans made me feel the same way. Not through the whole movie, but in more spots than it should have.
The world had the chance to see Titans blown up into 3D this weekend, and we came out in droves: the film is estimated to have taken in $61.4 million in North America alone, leaving previous Easter weekend records far behind. Actual domestic and early international numbers will be available later today, but they’re unlikely to show anything other than that a lot of people put out a lot of money to see this movie.

Part of that monster haul can be attributed to the recent rise in 3D ticket prices. Clash of the Titans was not shot in 3D, but it was retrofitted into the format postproduction as a way to boost its box office take. Whether moviegoers are okay with the fake 3D (or with the absence of an engaging story or characters) will be the story next weekend: Will the film take a huge drop as bad word of mouth spreads, or will it hold strong, indicating that word of mouth has been good?

One thing that might have affected the box office is whether the film had been honestly labeled as “not really 3D, just jury-rigged to make you think it’s as awesome as Avatar.” We can’t expect Hollywood to come up with this label on its own, so let’s do it for them.

What should we call fake 3D so it’s not confused with the real deal?

(I recently wrote a bit more about this topic over at Film.com.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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