James Cameron knows why 3D TVs for home failed: “Not everyone is a moviegoer like me”

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Legendary director James Cameron was a proponent of 3D movies, but says he understands why home 3D TVs died out so quickly.

Speaking with IGN about the upcoming reissue of Avatar, the 68-year-old director shared his thoughts on why home 3D failed and whether it will be able to work again.

“I think the jury is out on this,” he said. “I know why it all failed, because they jumped into 3D, trying to capitalize on the boom in cinemas and treat it as a feature. So they did 3D, but they did it with glasses that needed to be recharged, and all that. While right over the horizon there were big flat-screen TVs without glasses that actually looked pretty good.”

One of the most popular 3D releases, Avatar almost single-handedly heralded the return of 3D to cinemas around the world. It was also one of the most popular home 3D games, and 3D Blu-Ray became a popular first movie to watch on your fancy new 3D TV.

Unfortunately, Cameron was right. Many home 3D televisions used an active shutter system, requiring a pair of glasses that essentially opened and closed rapidly synchronously to create a 3D image. It was these glasses that required charging and made 3D a little more cumbersome at home.

Soon enough, the industry switched to autostereoscopic 3D — 3D without glasses, which was used in the Nintendo 3DS. But it was too late.

“The need to produce [televisions without glasses] and the additional costs required did not correspond to market demand, which was rapidly falling, because people perceive 3D in the cinema completely differently than at home. They don’t want anything that distracts them from multitasking and/or communicating with other people who are in the room with them, and so on.”

By 2017, most 3D TVs and services had come to an end – not exactly what was promised by the glory days of home 3D. Since many popular games have been converted for home 3D viewing, many of us have been left with a bunch of 3D Blu-ray discs intended for garage sales and charity shops. Of course, Avatar was one of the most popular.

All actors and characters are confirmed for the Avatar sequels

“Not everyone is a moviegoer like me, when you sit down, put on your glasses and just watch the whole movie, which is more like a theatrical experience. So it got out of control somehow,” Cameron said.

— Can he come back? he postulated. “I think I could, but I can’t say, because the experience of home viewing is fundamentally different from theatrical. I’m perfectly happy if the only place you can really get it is a movie theater, because it speaks to that specific cinematic experience, which is obviously primarily a re—release of Avatar.

The original Avatar will return to theaters worldwide on September 23, 2022. Do you want to know more about “Avatar”? Check out what was shown in the new clips “Avatar: The Way of Water” on Disney’s D23, as well as James Cameron’s thoughts on the haters of “Avatar”.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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