tres cool: no 3D for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is rapidly barreling at us — it releases on November 19 on both sides of the Atlantic — which is good enough news, but now comes even better news for fans of not-sucky films everywhere:

“Deathly Hallows: Part 1” becomes the first major pic to cancel a previously announced 3D release due to production problems.

Though the decision reps a financial hit to Warner, which will have to absorb whatever it’s already spent on the conversion and forego tens of millions in box office from premium tickets, 3D pros see it as an important step forward in the evolution of the format.

For the first time, the argument goes, a studio has drawn a line, preferring no 3D to bad 3D. The hope is that now there will be more pressure to do 3D well than to do it everywhere.

Why? Well, gee, turns out, it’s hard to make a 2D flick 3D, and it takes a lot of time. Who’da thunk such a thing, from the evidence of, say, Clash of the Titans?

In the last few weeks, as it became clear that deadlines were slipping badly, both Imax and the studio began to scramble for alternatives. Imax put out “911” calls for emergency help to other 3D conversion companies but couldn’t find enough takers to catch up.

The studio had taken one option off the table: releasing in 3D no matter what. Earlier this year, the studio converted the filmed-in-2D “Clash of the Titans.” Though it earned a handsome $493 million worldwide, there were vocal critics, including some studio insiders, of the visuals. But Warner learned from the experience, and execs decided they didn’t want to take a risk with “Harry Potter,” one of the studio’s crown jewels.

Work continued into Friday as execs wrestled with whether to release only selected scenes in 3D, as was done on the previous “Potter”; move the release date; or cancel the 3D release. Moving the release date proved impractical, and on Friday morning, they decided to pull the plug on the 3D conversion.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Deathly Hallows could have been performed by sock puppets and it still would have made a fortune. But now it’ll make a slightly smaller fortune, because a major corporation whose first priority is to its stockholders made a decision that’s operating on a timescale slightly further out than the current fiscal quarter, in that it worries about the longer-term reputation of the Harry Potter film franchise.

Again: amazing.

It’s not all good news, though:

Warner’s focus now shifts to converting “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” which the studio said will go out in 2D and 3D on July 15, 2011, as previously announced.


Warner’s statement did not rule out the possibility of a limited 3D re-release of “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” in 2011, shortly before the July 15 release of “Part 2.” In an indication Warner was still pondering its next move, as of Friday, some crews on the 3D conversion of “Part 1” had not been officially released.

Doh! It’s Harry Potter. It doesn’t need to be in 3D to be amazing. Just leave it alone already. Sheesh.

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