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3D re-release: Is it worth the price of admission?

Published: Thursday, March 29 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

"Titanic"

Paramount

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With only a few more days until James Cameron's blockbuster "Titanic" joins the ever-growing list of films being re-released to theaters in the third dimension, some of you are likely asking the question: Is the movie you likely have stashed away in a bin worth paying extra to see in 3D at the theater?

Ever since Cameron's "Avatar," with its eye-popping effects and fantastic use of 3D, went on to make nearly $2.8 billion — making it the highest-grossing movie ever — in 2009, dozens of movies have sought to capitalize on the extra revenue generated by higher ticket prices. While a good number of these films have made good use of 3D ("How to Train Your Dragon"), an equally great number were simply converted to 3D in post-production to add on some extra profits ("Alice in Wonderland").

And then of course there’s films like "Piranha 3D."

The latest trend in the 3D craze is re-releasing enhanced versions of beloved classics. Re-releasing movies is nothing new to Hollywood. "Gone with the Wind" was released a total of five times, and George Lucas celebrated the digitally re-mastered versions of his "Star Wars" trilogy with a 1997 re-release.

With the current obsession with 3D in Hollywood and with inflated prices of 3D tickets making room for extra profit, it’s no surprise to see an old practice coming back with 3D versions of "The Lion King," "The Star Wars Saga," "Titanic," "Jurassic Park" and "The little Mermaid" making their way to a theater near you.

But while it will doubtless be nice to see movies on the big screen again, is that extra dimension really needed? According to an article by film theorist Kristin Thompson looking at the statistics of 3D movie sales, “A lot of the people buying tickets to see a film in 3D probably would have gone to see it if it had been strictly 2D. That is, 3D itself is probably not luring in many new viewers.”

And then there are the people who are turned off by 3D, with its dimmer screens and color-muting glasses. IFC writer Matt Singer recalls going to see a showing of "Captain America" in a 2D theater, only to be told that due to technical problems they would have to see a 3D showing. Even though they weren’t charged the extra fee, “the entire sold-out theater of some 400 people burst into boos.”

But if 3D isn’t a problem for you, or is in fact the main reason you’re seeing the movie, it would be wise to read some reviews to make sure the 3D is worth the extra price you’re paying for it. IGN movie reviewer Cindy White gave the 3D in "The Lion King" a pass. “As 3D conversions go, this one is not too distracting, which doesn't sound like much, but it's actually high praise.”

But the 3D release of "The Phantom Menace" was noticeable for the fact that there was very little actual 3D to justify the extra cash spent. Said ScreenRant reviewer Ben Kendrick, “It’s hard to recommend moviegoers pay the upgraded price simply to experience the series in an added dimension because in most cases the image is flat.”

So if you go see "Titanic," don’t forget there are 2D screenings that offer all the joys of the movie with the added bonus of saving a few bucks.

Freeman Stevenson is a college student who spends the vast majority of his time pondering why Rose didn't simply share the piece of driftwood with Jack. They could have at least taken turns.

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