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Harry Potter and the…AHAHAHAHA none for you!

Among the myriad fabulous topics we cover here at Tiger Beatdown is pop culture, the many ways in which it manifests, and the fascinating things it says (or doesn’t) about groups of people such as ladies, and queer folks. A pretty critical pop culture event is unfolding across the US tonight and in the small hours of tomorrow, as people file into movie theatres to catch the midnight showings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part the second, because apparently there was just so much they wanted to cover that they had to split it in two. (Surely a desire to attribute this decision to a plan to drag out the franchise for more profits is churlish and unkind of me.)

I was looking forward to talking about the film, and the franchise as a whole, because, better or worse, the Harry Potter franchise has had a profound impact on pop culture. Rowling’s characters are so well known that you can pretty much always toss off a Harry Potter reference and people will get it; it is the franchise that launched a thousand ‘ships (and an ocean of fanfic); these are the books that allegedly taught those rascally young folks that those square things with pictures on the cover have words inside; these are the stories that made a single mum wealthier than the Queen of England.

The gender dynamics of the franchise are particularly interesting to explore, especially looking at the handling of Hermione, everyone’s favourite geeky heroine who sure slicks up nice and mysteriously for a ‘positive female character’ seems to utter every statement ‘shrilly’ when she’s not ‘shrieking’ or ‘twittering.’ For that matter, the very public role Emma Watson has occupied over the last 10 years because of her role in the films is also fascinating, as are the predictable responses to the rise of any young female celebrity. Hating on Emma is easy, but few people are ashamed to take the cheap shot, apparently.

I was getting excited about this grand post I would write, a reflection on the films and the books and the way they tie together, the gender and race and class and queer dynamics and how people deal with them and respond to them. You’re probably getting excited just reading me talk about how great this post was going to be, for that matter, although you’re getting a bit suspicious because of all the past tense, aren’t you? Judging from the emails in my inbox wanting to know if I’ll be commenting on Harry Potter, it seems that people are actively expecting and looking forward to this post.

Too bad it’s not getting written.

Earlier this week I took a gander at the movie theatre schedule to doublecheck that they were in fact having a midnight show, and to find out how they were handling tickets, since it seems to change with every mega release. Now, you have to understand; when I say ‘the local movie theatre,’ I mean ‘the only movie theatre.’ Fort Bragg has a population of approximately 7,000. I remember when we had one stoplight and the movie theatre had two screens. Now we have a few stoplights, and the movie theatre has four screens, but, still, we are a very small town. I lay this out for you so you understand why I often miss new releases, because I would have to drive an hour or so to get to another movie theatre that might have different offerings. And I lay this out for you, also, so you can understand how devastated I was by what I found on the schedule.

‘Starting July 15,’ it informed me. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.‘ My eye skipped ahead to the next part of the notice, about the midnight show and tickets being on sale in advance at the box office, and I made a note to drive into town and pick some up, before my eye danced back and saw…

‘In 3D.’

Let me explain something to you, about me and 3D movies: I cannot watch them. What I see, glasses or not, is a series of blurred, pixellated images that refuse to match up and give me a mighty impressive headache. That’s because I have lost most of the vision in my right eye and effectively see with my left only. Going to the movies causes eye strain, so I often decide to cover my right eye entirely (I slip my eyepatch on in the darkness of the theatre, because I do not like to attract attention with my one-eyed freakishness, nor do I enjoy endless pirate jokes, both of which occur when I wear it in public). Thus, at the movies, I effectively have monocular vision. Monocular vision and 3D movies do not play well together. Monocular vision and 3D anything do not play well together.

For that matter, there are a lot of things that do not play well with 3D movies; some people can’t watch them for other neurological and visual (and sometimes both) reasons. My fellow contributor Emily gets vicious migraines when she watches them, for instance, and she is far from the only person who reports this problem. 3D movies are fundamentally inaccessible to a section of the population. A section of the population that is a lot larger than I thought it was, as I learned when I took to Twitter to whine register my protest about this situation. Elon James pointed out that increasingly, in urban areas where you can choose between a mixture of theatres, the best theatres get the 3D versions, and the crappy theatres get the regular ones. So if you can’t watch 3D movies, you are forced to go to a shitty theatre if you want to see releases on the big screen.

I got a flood of responses there and in other places when I asked who was facing accessibility issues that would prevent attendance at the Harry Potter premiere. The issue isn’t just 3D; there are also problems with captions, with mobility-related disabilities that theatres don’t accommodate, for people who need to stand or jiggle or have the lights on or yes talk during the movie. Which is why some movie theatres actually have disability-friendly screenings with adjustments to accommodate, say, autistic children who really don’t want to see a VERY LOUD MOVIE in the dark and would prefer a more mellow, toned-down environment. Movie theatre accessibility in general is a big problem, and it’s particularly acute when you are talking about a major cinematic release.

It’s hard to explain how upsetting inaccessibility is to people who haven’t experienced it. The response to issues like this is often ‘well, it’s just a movie. It’s not a big deal.’ Even people who get that accessibility of public spaces, like post offices and banks, is an issue, may not see how entertainment venues should be accessible. I guess people with disabilities don’t need to be entertained, eh? Since we’re all so busy being miserable and disabled that we wouldn’t want to take two hours of that time to go watch a movie. Chill at a live theatre production. Attend a concert, even.

But, the thing is, I’ve seen every Harry Potter movie in the theatre. I am not a hardcore Harry Potter geek, by any means, but I like the franchise and there’s some juicy stuff for analysis in there that I enjoy. I’ve tried to make a habit of attending the midnight shows and it is hard to articulate that chill that runs down your spine when the previews finally end and the opening credits begin and there’s this momentary hush before the theatre just explodes with cheers and excitement. Everyone is so excited. And they applaud and then they simmer down as the opening scene begins and I remember why I like to see movies in the theatre as the film unrolls.

Because this is truly a participatory, group experience. Everyone is united in one place for a common purpose, which, yes, is to be entertained. We laugh and gasp and scream together. There’s always that one loud person who makes the occasional acerbic comment, which would normally piss me off, because, yes, I am not a fan of Noise During Movies, but somehow it seems acceptable here, and the entire theatre bursts into laughter. It’s fun. It’s a cooperative endeavor. My experience of the film is enriched by seeing it in the theatre and I feel like part of a community, with the kids who grew up with this franchise and the adults who got into it and everyone between, even the long-suffering parents dragged to the midnight show and thanking their stars it’s almost over. For a couple of hours, the barriers between us as people don’t matter, because we are united as viewers and consumers of pop culture. And we all applaud at the end and sometimes people dance in the aisles and a good time is had by all.

And that is a uniquely midnight show experience. That is not something I can replicate at other showings, or when the movie comes out on DVD. I am not quite enough of a superfan to want to drive to the closest location with a 2D showing. And thanks to the 3D fad, this is a growing problem. I don’t understand the benefits of 3D movies because I can’t view them. Maybe they really are just that amazing, but all I think about when I see 3D showings like this one is that I am being deprived of an experience and I really don’t have to be, because there’s a way to satisfy the thirst for 3D and accommodate people who can’t watch 3D movies.

Our theatre has, on occasion, had the same film on two screens. Many theatres, actually, do this. This very film is going to be playing on two screens, as a matter of fact, as a kindly box office staffer informed me when I called to confirm the details of the matter. They could have resolved this particular accessibility problem by having two midnight shows (double the profits!). But apparently, they chose not to.

Most of the time, my vision is not disabling. I still qualify to drive in California (a thought that may disturb some of you although I have a spotless driving record. Except that one speeding ticket. Oh and that other one. But other than that, really, spotless.). I’ve never gotten those Magic Eye books and sometimes I do things that other people find humorous like dropping plates on the floor because I have no depth perception and think the tabletop is somewhere it actually isn’t, but I am better about that, these days, unless someone moves a piece of furniture, in which case all bets are off. I very rarely, in other words, run into situations where I am disabled by my own vision, although my vision is definitely different from that of people around me. But situations like this, where society disables me by doing shifty[1] things, well, these happen a lot.

Now, I could go to the theatre and see the regular version of the film when it does run, at 3:45 daily. I could. And I could write about it, and we could all have a delicious conversation about what it all means. But, the thing is, I’m kind of pissed off right now, and I’m kind of bitter, and I’m kind of grumpy, and I think that’s going to taint how I view this film, because it will forever be coloured, for me, by the knowledge that my movie theatre chose to disable me.

1. This post has been edited.


  1. Charlie wrote:

    You’re so not alone that cinemas- in the UK at least- are actually losing a buttload of money on 3D films. They keep trying to make them the Next Big Thing that will last forever because they can jack up ticket prices for 3D films and because you can’t really get 3D anywhere other than at the cinema at the moment- but it’s just not working.
    The cinema where I work is simply switching out all their screens to digital- it’s vastly better quality so they can charge more- and then having a shorter run of 3D showings. 3D makes money in the short term usually only if you don’t also offer 2D which then alienates a lot of your audience, which means they’re a lot less likely to even bother with the film AND as an added bonus will complain to all of their friends and family. Something which cinemas really don’t want because we rely on repeat business from people who live nearby who themselves have dozens of ways to access the movies they want to watch.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  2. Lisa wrote:

    I have 20/20 vision with my specs on but even I’m not a big fan of 3D movies.

    The 3Dness if usually added retrospectively and you can tell, it kinda grates on the eyes.

    The only 3D movie I’ve ever seen that didn’t make me go cross-eyed was Drive Angry 3D. Awful, awful, film (I only saw it cos the screening was free) but because it was filmed in 3D, rather than the usual 2D filming with 3D added in post-production, it was the only 3D film I’ve ever seen that was easy on the eyes. I may have felt like I was dying inside from the dullness, but at least my eyes didn’t go crossy.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  3. melissa wrote:

    I think I saw a 3D movie recently (read: months ago…). It was something dumb, probably resident evil or something, I don’t know.

    I think 3D is pretty pointless. Maybe there are a few moments where it is fascinating to watch (for instance, when there are scenes with rain), but the rest of the time it is just seriously hammed up and distracting from the plot.

    I wear glasses, which makes it extremely uncomfortable to wear the 3D glasses. I either have to push my glasses up until the plastic is stabbing me in the eyes, or I have to be blind.

    Even with the 3D glasses on, things are still oddly blurry. I get headaches but I don’t know if it’s the contrasted super-bright lighting, the plastic poking me in the face or the random blurriness of the whole thing. But it’s not worth the couple of seconds of cheesy slow motion while inanimate objects fly toward my face.

    And I only went to that one because, as you said, there is often only one option at a time.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  4. liz wrote:

    I’m sorry.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  5. Jonah wrote:

    So if you can’t watch 3D movies, you are forced to go to a shitty theatre if you want to see releases on the big screen.

    Huh. I think we use opposite definitions of “good” and “bad” theatres. The big chains get 3D, but the small, indie theatres (which also happen to be the cheapest, friendliest, and artiest) go without.

    Another reason to hate 3D is that apparently it’s a huge pain to change from the 3D lens to the 2D one, so big chains with lots of 3D movies just leave the 3D lens on for 2D films. The effect here is that they’re almost unwatchably dark.

    Also, for Harry Potter, apparently the 3D aspect is barely enough to justify the extra cost even if you can watch it. My friend saw HP6 in 3D, and the “remove 3D glasses now” message comes 10 minutes in. I guess they just really wanted that first scene to look cool.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  6. N wrote:

    s.e. smith, I always love your posts! so much that I never have anything to add other than that I think they are great 🙂 WORD to everything in this post!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  7. Aliaras wrote:

    As someone who’s perfectly well sighted, I also hate 3D movies. I saw one, apparently the “good kind”, as an experiment with someone who bought my ticket for me. Not repeating that.

    They’re headachey, they’re dull-colored, and the 3D only makes sense if you’re focusing on the part of the scene the filmmakers were — otherwise you have this weird disorientation when your eyes refuse to bring things into focus as you sweep your gaze across the screen (because you’re bored, or because it’s a gorgeous scene).

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  8. intransigentia wrote:

    Wow, I’d never considered “disable” as a transitive verb that could be applied to humans. Disable cookies, yes. Disable a person? Now that you’ve pointed it out, it seems obvious. You have a physical variation which is a disability only when your ability to adapt is thwarted. I know this is the social model of disability, but this is the first time it actually clicked for me. Thank you.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  9. brigid keely wrote:

    This is such a big deal that people are actually coming out with glasses that make 3-D movies 2-D. Hooray!

    3-D movies give me a headache ranging from “mild” to “death would almost be preferable to this, plus it’s lasted a day and a half, oh help.” HOWEVER, Werner Herzog’s latest film? The 3-D was utterly amazing and added a LOT to the understanding of how and why cave paintings were placed where they were. It was totally worth the headache I got. But if I were to watch it again, it would be in 2-D because, again, headache.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  10. Saby wrote:

    They sell glasses that make 3D movies into 2D! This guy invented them for his wife, who has a similar problem to yours. (Everybody awwwwwww with me)

    Of course they’re a solution to a problem we shouldn’t have in the first place, but at least someone is trying to make the movies more accessible?

    (I also get massive headaches from 3D movies, due to a lazy eye, but fortunately the only movie theatre in my town never got the new 3D equipment. )

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  11. Haguenite wrote:

    I’m sorry you won’t get to see it and that your theatre is as dickish as mine was. We had 3 midnight showings (one stand-alone, one as part of a double bill, one as part of a 27-hour all HP marathon) and they were all 3D and/or IMAX.

    I don’t think the 3D contributed much to it, but then this was my very first 3D movie, so I did enjoy the experience. It wasn’t necessary to make it 3D though, and definitely not necessary for theatres to push it the way they are.

    That said, the movie is absolutely stellar. I loved every second of it. It’s beautiful and well made and Steve Kloves actually did a good job for once and there’s extra stuff for some shippers in there and basically it’s made out of rainbows and smiles. So I hope the bad feelings can subside quick enough for you to watch it in the theatre, because yeah, lovely.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  12. Jess wrote:

    Jonah, sometimes the alternative to ‘big chain theatre’ is not ‘cool small indie theatre’ but ‘shabby, faded formerly big-chain (from when big chains were smaller) theatre with shitty sound system’.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink
  13. aravind wrote:

    Ugh, 3D. One of my parents is nearly monocular (she has maybe 20% of her peripheral vision in her left eye) both me and the other must have some sort of physiological (inner ear?) problem, because we get motion sick from the wrong filming techniques in 2D movies. I feel you on the 3D thing, it’s rather exclusionary how certain movies are difficult to find in the older format. We tend not to go to the movies anymore because of that.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  14. Molly Bandit wrote:

    I’m colorblind, so because of the lens issue that Jonah mentioned, it’s very difficult for me to watch 3D movies that aren’t cartoons. I think the last one I watched was Iron Man 2, and the experience was “Yay! A brightly lit scene in popping 3D! and…. 30 minutes… of something in hues of brown that is vaguely moving?” Repeat ad nauseam. It happens with 2D movies too that have “artsy” dark color schemes. I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on in the movie Chicago and gave up on it 10 minutes in.

    Being a huge Harry Potter nerd, I was scared I’d have to wait for the second run theater to get it in a few months, but thankfully a theater 20-ish minutes from here has it in 2D.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  15. Rachel wrote:

    I was totally going to recommend Hank’s 2D glasses for you, but someone beat me to the punch. I also sympathize and agree that it sucks that you couldn’t go.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  16. Michael wrote:

    While my vision is merely near-sighted, I have to admit that I really hate the recent explosion of 3D everything. I have yet to see a single piece of media that used it as more than gimmick to justify higher prices.

    Also, I have to admit that I very rarely go to theaters, but I agree with you s.e., that midnight shows are a ball.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  17. esteefee wrote:

    well, that sucks hard. I’m very sorry, because you deserve a midnight out and getting to see the opening with screaming fans.

    I have a different problem with 3D in that it is an invitation to visit the porcelain god due to my having an unresolved lazy eye problem: my brain’s already struggling with two disparate images, I don’t need to try to resolve four, thank you very much. but I’m fortunate enough to live in a big city with options.

    I’m so sorry they don’t seem to care about your and others’ disabilities enough to provide what is needed.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink
  18. Phoenix wrote:

    I’m legally blind in one eye and just glad I didn’t like going to movies that much anyway, because half the stuff I might’ve wanted to see lately has been 3D only. The good news is that 3D isn’t bringing in the revenue as well as it was supposed to, so it’s probably on its way out….

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  19. hn wrote:

    Now imagine all that and that you would have to watch a German Dubbed version. (also available in 2D, and also at reasonable hours)

    This being a giant movie our local cinema of course also offers the original audio version. In 3D (at +40% price), and only exactly once for some mad reason (ze projektor, it burns us!), and four days from now.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  20. Kaz wrote:

    Which is why some movie theatres actually have disability-friendly screenings with adjustments to accommodate, say, autistic children who really don’t want to see a VERY LOUD MOVIE in the dark and would prefer a more mellow, toned-down environment.

    This autistic *adult* would totally go for that, since this is one of the big reasons I generally don’t watch movies anymore. In fact, adding on to the long long list of “3D doesn’t work for me” – I have never watched a 3D movie and am not planning to, since either the 3D won’t work (cue headaches, frustration and wasted money), or it will work and I’ll probably spend the entire movie hiding under my seat because the last thing I need is for movies to be even more realistic and intense.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  21. HarperMD wrote:

    A theater near me in Oakland, CA does accessible show times for movies (when the movie has accessible features like captions and audio descriptions) alternating with inaccessible showtimes and swapping times every other day (e.g. Monday: 7:10 accessible, 10:10 inaccessible; Tuesday: 7:10: inaccessible, 10:10 accessible.) Unfortunately, these features aren’t always available and sometimes it takes a couple weeks in theaters before the theater will put the accessible showtimes in.

    I’ve always wondered how well those 2D glasses work. I’m not stereoblind, but I am nearsighted and have to wear the 3D glasses over prescription glasses. It’s uncomfortable and the 3D strains my eyes. Thankfully, most of my friends don’t like 3D and I live in a large urban area so I can usually choose to see the 2D showing.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  22. RachRach wrote:

    Someone posted about the buy-able 2D glasses, and you can also make your own if you have 2 pairs (perhaps your friends save them rather than return them):

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  23. k wrote:

    Awww, s.e., that stinks. I’ve never seen a movie in 3D before and my bf just got us tickets for tomorrow night… Migraine sufferers, do any of you get migraines triggered by 3D? Now I’m nervous…

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  24. Copcher wrote:

    That really sucks. I don’t go to the movies that often, but I always assumed that if a cinema was showing a movie in 3D, they would also give you the option of watching it in 2D. Maybe that’s my privilege of living in a big city talking, but seriously, it should be common sense. The last Harry Potter movie in 2D is probably going to be amazingly fun for anyone who goes to see it. The last Harry Potter movie in 3D might be somehow even more amazingly fun for the people who go see it, but probably not enough more fun to make up for all the people who won’t be able to see it because it’s in 3D. Unfortunately, the people in charge don’t measure success by how much fun people have. Maybe they should.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  25. Marissa wrote:

    My soon-to-be husband is Deaf. There is no such thing as a captioned midnight showing, especially not open captioned, which is the only type of captioning he can tolerate. So welcome to the community of folks who are left out of cultural milestones due to disability.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink
  26. ghaweyriao wrote:

    That really does suck . . . as you said, midnight premieres/watching movies in theaters is a really fun, communal experience, and it sucks that people like yourself get excluded just out of thoughtlessness.

    I do love Harry Potter, but I’m going to see it on Saturday.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  27. Liz M. wrote:

    @K, my man and I are both migraine sufferers and we don’t have huge problems with 3D if it’s the theatrical/IMAX kind… we can’t use the cheap paper ones that come with DVDs though, but if I understand the technology is somewhat different.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  28. Erica Dawn wrote:


    I’m blessed that since my area, Tampa Bay, has a lot of disabilities the multiplexes have been providing 2D showings in addition to 3D. We can only hope others follow suit…but really why hasn’t there been a class-action lawsuit or a movement to include this in ADA guidelines?

    I’m Epileptic so 3D makes me literally sick.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink
  29. Well, you know I love your writing, tho I’ve never been to THIS blog before.

    LOL here: “I guess people with disabilities don’t need to be entertained, eh? Since we’re all so busy being miserable and disabled that we wouldn’t want to take two hours of that time to go watch a movie.”

    Oh, lordy.

    Otherwise 2 emotions:

    1. Frick. I have never tried to watch a 3D movie before, but it seems to be a Please Insert Migraine Here situation. Will the DVD look normal?? Since some theaters are showing it 2D, I really hope the DVD won’t be weird.

    2. Really sad. I had no idea that going to a midnight movie was like that. I haven’t gone to a move in 15 yrs because of access issues. Now I know what I’m missing, and I feel really sad about that. (I’m a HP book fanatic. Good thing I don’t feel that strongly about the movies, I guess.)

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:47 am | Permalink
  30. Vicki Soloniuk wrote:

    And the really good news is that your local theatre is only showing the 2D version in the middle of the work day. Unless I want to leave my husband (in our home an hour away) and return to my work week apartment a day early. Do they think that people who can’t tolerate 3D (are “disabled”) don’t work?

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink
  31. Kate wrote:

    May I offer a comment from the other side of the fence?

    I recently moved on from working in cinemas for just under 9 years and am absolutely HATING the predominance of 3D films. Many are badly converted, crap films that have had the spectacle of 3D added as an afterthought to bump up box office revenue. At my old workplace, we have a large (staff-made) sign in our staffroom stating “If you can’t make it good, make it 3D!”

    Anywhoo, moving on from my 3D rant; it is not always the fault of the cinema whether or not a film plays in 3D or in 2D. Like many things in business, the bottom line is that the option that makes the most money will be always be the winner. Cinemas are under immense pressure to show only 3D sessions by the DISTRIBUTORS. When the people who supply the films to you say “we want you to play mostly 3D/ entirely 3D”, the cinemas have to comply as they want to be able to show the product.

    I was lucky in the fact that I live in a bigger city. My local multiplex had 7 screens and screened their 3 larger cinemas in 3D Digital and their 4 smaller ones in 2D. (They all sold out, which shows that both formats are appealing to audiences). I went and watched as everyone piled into their theatres in costumes; excited and nervous.

    I feel so upset that you missed out on that excitement and it makes me a little pissed that your film experience is so tainted by big money considerations. Film is a medium that should be enjoyed by all and 3D (whether it be through an inability to watch a 3D image or through mere distaste for the effect) is cutting off this enjoyment to a portion of a films audience.

    The best thing to do at this stage (if at all possible) is to vote with your wallet. ONLY attend films that play in plain old 2D, encourage your friends and family to do the same. Until the 2D option becomes just as profitable as the 3D option, the Distributors will insist on a more balanced option and the cinemas will follow.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:55 am | Permalink
  32. James Robson wrote:

    Luckily, here in UK the big cinemas seem to be slightly more sensible; Cineworld at least had a midnight showing for both the 2D and 3D versions and both are showing pretty much every 20 minutes for the next week or so. I don’t have any reason not to watch 3D films, but I generally choose not to because they’re more expensive for really very little gain.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink
  33. scrumby wrote:

    I dislike 3D for the double glasses headache thing mentioned a couple times above. But I will concede that it was worth it to see Megamind in 3D because it’s a film that was actually planned for 3D. The extra dimension was used to pull me into the screen, showing the depth of crowds and buildings looming over city streets instead of throwing stuff out toward the audience. It was subtle and minimally headachy because I didn’t have to fight to constantly maintain proper focus.

    On the disability access theater thing, I remember a few local chains used to do something called mommy-matinees where they would show a film with lights up, sound down, and subtitles on the screen so parents catch the latest pg-pg13 blockbuster with baby in tow. That was the first time I realized that something that seemed so populist in it’s offerings could still be very exclusionary.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  34. TD wrote:

    If you’re going to be putting on your eyepatch in the theater anyway, 3D movies should actually be fine (assuming they’re polarization-based and not R/B anaglyph, because only one image will be getting to your retinas. It’s basically the same thing as the 2D glasses. Unless I’m wrong…

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  35. GGeek wrote:

    I and my one good eye say “HELL TO THE YES” to this entire post.

    Tangentially, I’m so glad you’re blogging here, s.e. I miss FWD, and it’s awesome to read your work in one of my other favorite places on the Internetz.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
  36. Emily wrote:

    WE HAVE THE EXACT. SAME. EYE PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!!! My right can’t see worth poop due to all the surgeries my eyes have undergone.
    This isn’t even my main issue with 3D though. I feel like they use it as a gimmick to cover up actual film suckiness in many cases. (not with harry of course hehe)

    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 2:20 am | Permalink
  37. Daephene wrote:

    I did not know theaters did that. I’ve never been to a 3D movie, because they’re always also showing in 2D in the same theater around here. I guess I always assumed theaters that could not offer both would go with 2D only. I’m sorry that’s not true in your area.

    Honestly, I think 2D would have made more sense even from a business perspective for the midnight show. It was likely to sell out either way. Those who wanted to go to the midnight show and also wanted to see the 3D would have had to see the movie twice. Unless the 3D premiere tickets cost more than the 2D premiere + a regular 3D ticket, I’m not sure how they really gain anything by limiting the accessibility to the premiere. In fact if you’re in an area where selling out wasn’t a guarantee due to the size of the population, they lost money by keeping you from going.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  38. emjaybee wrote:

    3D doesn’t give me a headache, but it is “meh” honestly. A truly amazing experience would be some kind of hologram projection where you seemed to be inside the movie; this is just Regular Movie with Occasional Stuff the Floats Towards You a Bit. Meh.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  39. tannenburg wrote:

    I heartily endorse this post – 3D gives me instant seizures. Lovely, isn’t it? I place 3D up there with “shaky cam” movies in the category of “entertainment I’m obviously unworthy to see because I have a bit o’ epilepsy thankyouverymuchforplaying.”

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:05 am | Permalink
  40. Libelia wrote:

    Wow, that sucks 🙁

    I’m an Australian, and an ex-projectionist, and I’m really surprised by what you’ve said in this post.

    Every cinema in my city (and granted, I have over 10 to choose from) has both a 2D and a 3D version of current films to choose from at almost every cinema. It’s just a thing; you show both.

    We also have ‘mums and bubs’ screenings and open caption screenings on at least once a week at nearly every cinema, and hearing aid broadcasting equiptment in nearly every cinema. Granted, not all sessions evey day are OC, ‘mums and bubs’ or hearing aid accessible but most cinemas in the city offer these at least once a week.

    As someone who used to maintain the tech stuff as well, there was a whole staff aproach to making sure that hearing aid stuff was working correctly, sound was soft and lights were up in ‘family’ sessions and titles were clear and readble in OC sessions. It sounds like your local cinema kinda sucks 🙁

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 4:42 am | Permalink
  41. katrinka wrote:

    my partner and I each have 20/20 vision (or better). we recently saw the new pirates movie in 3D and it was terrible to watch, my partner just finished his film production degree with a focus of photography and cinematography and he spent most of the film with the 3D glasses off. between adding the the 3D effects and showing a film in a theater more likely designed for 2D projections you lose 4 stops of light meaning the quality of the film is very dark. not very helpful when you are watching a film with a lot of night and very dark scenes. 3D is crap even if you have “good” vision and I never want to see it trump 2D. your theater should have had 2 screenings.

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 5:01 am | Permalink
  42. T. C. wrote:

    I am legally blind without correction, and even with correction I don’t have anywhere near perfect vision, and yet I can see 3D movies fine without a headache or any vision problems.

    Unfortunately, they make me overwhelmingly nauseated to the point of vomiting mid-show one time. Thank goodness for empty popcorn buckets.

    Either way, I feel badly for theaters in any case. There are so many different KINDS of people out there, disabled or not, that trying to please all of them is difficult. I used to work in a theater, and let me tell you, it was not pleasant for that experience alone. I had the awful experience of informing a diabetic woman that because we had recently started carrying sugarfree, healthy options in the theater she could not bring her bowl of fresh fruit in to the showing, and the even more awful experience of being yelled at in front of a whole crowd of people for it.

    Basically, most theaters try to please the most amount of people possible, and unfortunately, that usually winds up being the “norm.”

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 6:28 am | Permalink
  43. Jayn wrote:

    3D is just an eye-candy thing, really. I enjoy it, but I’m also an eye-candy junkie. It doesn’t make the movie any better, and at times can pull me OUT of the movie. Given the choice, I’d rather see a lot of films in 3D, but I wouldn’t miss it if it went away.

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  44. John Horstman wrote:

    The reason the stereoscopic effect causes problems for so many people even with “normal” vision is that our eyes are all set different distances apart. Unless you happen to have the same angular offset as the cameras for an object at a certain distance, stereoscopic effects will cause some eye strain as your eyes must constantly correct for the slight variation in focal depth, and if they’re sufficiently different from the cameras, the strain will be quite noticeable.

    I find it quite odd that theaters don’t offer 2D conversion glasses that present only one aspect to both eyes, as that’s a pretty simple way to increase accessibility. I think it’s something of an open question as to exactly how far businesses and public institutions should be required to go to accommodate physical ability that deviates from the norm (for example, I think it’s unreasonable to expect a theater to offer a screen with 3D, one with 2D, one of each with lights up, one of each with quieter sound, one of each with quieter sound and lights up, one of each with subtitles, etc. at every show time for every film), but as far as relatively easy accommodations go (designing buildings with wheeled accessibility in mind, including braille on signs/directories, offering one showing of a film per week with subtitles, increased lighting, lower volume, etc., offering 2D screenings or conversion glasses), I see no reason to not do so. I don’t think there are perfect solutions to accommodate the full range of differences in physical ability in all circumstances (sadly, not being able to e.g. hear or hear well means there are some things a person will not be able to do, or would only be able to do if large amounts of time, money, and energy were put toward serving a disproportionately small population), but I also think we can do a lot better than we are now without a significant increase in the amount of time/money/energy that needs to be spent if we just plan for broad accessibility from the start.

    @24: A number of theaters in my area did offer both – and sold out of the 2D screenings, forcing people into the 3D ones.

    @34: Blocking one eye works for me (although, playing with the polarized glasses, I noted there’s still a red/blue tint shift for each lens in addition to the polarization; I’m still not entirely clear on how the tech works), but it still causes strain in viewing, as my brain/eyes are trying to match a blank image with a content-laden image (as I can see with both eyes, just not in the way necessary for the stereoscopic filming/projection to work perfectly for me), overtaxing the seeing eye.

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink
  45. Alex wrote:

    I feel for you, S.E. At least they are planning to show the 2-D version. I’m in a larger area where, thankfully, they’re still about 50-50 in 2D-3D showings of things like Potter. But based on a report I read a couple weeks ago, Hollywood is trying to reduce that ratio and make them all 3-D. While I don’t have the vision problems you describe, I do find 3-D ruins movies for me (not exaggerating this next point: Avatar 3-D had me calling it the worst, most overrated film of the last 30 years; when I later saw the 2-D version, I revised my opinion and it’s now one of the best films of the last decade).

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  46. LP wrote:

    With you on the 3D. Though, overall, I find lack of captions the worst part of going to the cinema. I have a hard time differentiating simultaneous sounds — the music, dialogue, sound effects, and ambient theatre noise are all essentially the same “volume” for me — so I spend a huge portion of every movie sitting in the dark and admiring the scenery.

    Incidentally, people who come over to my place have complained about having the captions on *my* TV. I do not understand why they think “being distracted” somehow trumps “being unable to participate in a group activity I’m hosting”.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  47. Neha wrote:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your view on 3D movies. However, there is now a way around the watching the 2D version of the movie in a crappy theatre:

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  48. Imogen wrote:

    I really enjoy reading your posts, s.e.
    I’m sure that this wasn’t intentional, but “sheisty” is (if not actually, then perceived by many to be) an antisemitic slur, and it kind of hurts to read in this space.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  49. s.e. smith wrote:

    Hi Imogen, I wasn’t aware of that and I apologise! Thank you for bringing it to my attention—I would love, just for personal curiosity reasons, to get more information on the etymology there. Is it a derivative of Shylock?

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  50. Imogen wrote:

    s.e. – Gladly accepted. It probably is the association with Shylock that has caused it to be repeated as a slur. Wikipedia claims that the antisemitic etymology of “shyster” is a false one, and that it’s actually from a scatological German word. Nonetheless, it’s definitely something I’ve often heard used with that specific connotation.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  51. rebekah wrote:

    I have similar eye problems to what you describe and this is a constant problem for me. I LOVE going to see movies in the theater, but unfortunately the local theater only shows one* non-3d movie a week, and that is on a monday afternoon. I am usually working on a monday afternoon and so I cannot go see movies. The next closest theater is the drive in and is two hours away. Now granted, they play two NEW movies for less than you would pay for the price of one in a normal theater, but the cost of gas plus time to drive there and back is awful, and therefore puts it to the pile of I only go do this if I’m desperate to see a movie. It makes me sad.

    they do show one “retro” aka a film from either the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s on the screen one night a week as well. I often do go to see these as I enjoy getting to see movies from my childhood (I was born in the nineties) on the big screen. Just so y’all who didn’t get to see it in theaters know Jurassic Park is WAY scarier on a gigantic screen and full sound than on your TV at home.

    Friday, July 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink