A group of Walt Disney Studios executives sit around a long table, fidgeting with their ties, trying not to let the oppressive silence get to them. A lowly intern sneezes, and the tension is palpable. “What if,” chairman Robert Iger’s voice cracks, and he clears his throat before starting again. “What if instead of thinking of a new idea, we just take all of our successful movies and put them in 3D?”
You may have noticed that recently many Disney movies are scheduled to be rereleased, including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. While I find it exciting and charming to see childhood classics come back to life on the big screen, one aspect throws me off: 3D. Instead of being delighted, I feel duped. Do the people over at Disney really think I won’t notice it’s exactly the same movie as in 1991, except with brighter colors and the occasional impressive 3D moment?
These movies aren’t made for 3D, so they rarely come straight off the screen in the corny way we’ve learned to expect. Ariel swimming right at us in 2D looks less like a beautiful and graceful mermaid and more like the love child of Conan O’Brien and Humpty Dumpty, so she’s animated swimming sideways or diagonally, which, let’s face it, is almost exactly the same in 3D as it is in 2D. You can easily forget that the movie is supposed to be in 3D, unless you have the misfortune of being an avid movie-watcher with bad eyesight, in which case your terrible slipping tower of glasses will never let you forget and enjoy the movie. Never.
So why make the movies in 3D? Why not rerelease them in good old fashioned 2D, the way they were meant to be seen? The answer is simple: because Walt Disney Studios is looking for a quick way to make money (oodles and oodles of money) without very much effort. Apparently Americans aren’t trusted to like something without an extra dose of technology (for example, that weird fridge that has Twitter), even if it’s useless. It doesn’t matter if the 3D brings nothing to the film; fans who decide not to fork over the $16.25 may feel like they’ve missed a rare opportunity to see the original movie on the big screen. Theaters can charge more for 3D– and that’s really what this whole business is about. Instead of creating new and brilliant movies (and feeding hungry wannabe screenwriter English majors, shocked to find themselves out of college and living in a cardboard box with their cats and iPhones), Disney has decided to milk the movies from the ’80s/’90s/’00s for all they’re worth.