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Bollywood hits button 3D

Has James Cameron’s Avatar opened the window to a whole new world for both Hollywood and Bollywood? Read on to find out what why 3D is the future of cinema, as 2D to 3D conversions become a viable alternative.

entertainment Updated: Mar 30, 2010 16:51 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

AvatarIn an interview to HT Café just before the release of Avatar, James Cameron had prophesised that 3D is the next big thing. "It is a window into a world where the format instead of calling attention to itself, disappears into the narrative. And at the end of the movie, the audience walks out of the theatre saying, ‘I didn’t see a movie, I experienced it.’ Theatres everywhere need to be equipped for this revolution," he’d urged.

Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, India, had pointed out that the number of 3D screens in India had grown from 12 to 70, not just in the metros but even the smaller centers. But while Hollywood, he argued, had embraced the new technology, Bollywood was more cautious in its approach given the higher investment.

“In 18-24 months, we will definitely have some 3D Bollywood movies,” he’d promised. His forecast has come true with Ram Gopal Varma admitting that Raksha, a 3D treasure hunt, will be his next after the two-part Rakta Charitra.

Varma had earlier been planning Warning, a 3D horror, but then realised that “making a mere horror film in 3D is not enough especially if its going to be the first 3D film in Indian cinema with the new enhanced technology developed since the days of Chhota Chetan”. Vikram Bhatt will be helming India’s first 3D horror film, Yama Dwar.

Huge market
Talking about the new trend, Amitabh Vardhan CEO, PVR Cinemas, points out that Avatar and Alice In Wonderland have proved that there’s a huge market for 3D. There are expectations from Clash Of The Titans. “Occupancy for 3D is twice that for a normal movie”.

Devang Sampat, VP, Cinemax, agrees that 3D is the future of cinema, with 2D to 3D conversions being the more viable alternative. “The cost will be divided between the distributors and the exhibitors and profit is a given,” he informs.

Ashish Saxena, CEO, Big Cinemas, echoes that saying, “Currently, Hollywood is looking bigger but Bollywood should catch up. And even though the investment is significant and there’s the limitation of a digital projector, Avatar’s record earnings have proved that the expenditure is worth it.”

Anil Ambani sets up 3D conversion in India

On December 7, Reliance MediaWorks Ltd announced a strategic alliance with LA-based In-Three to establish the world’s largest facility dedicated to the conversion of 2D films and videos into 3D, based in India.

The tie-up is the result of a growing demand by Hollywood studios and other content creators for converting both new films shot in 2D as well as older legacy titles to be released in cinemas and on home platforms in stereoscopic 3D. The ‘dimensionalisation’ process through the partnership is expected to be able to cater to 15-25 feature films projects annually. The number of 3D cinema screens world-wide will rise from 2,500 in 2008 to over 7,000 this year and to 15,000 by 2013.

Commenting on the association, Anil Arjun, CEO, Reliance MediaWorks said, “Reliance MediaWorks already does image enhancement and restoration for the leading Hollywood studios and the expansion of services into 2D-to-3D conversion was a natural next step for the company.”

Bollywood in 3D
Shankar reportedly is in talks to convert part of his Rs 125 crore Tamil fantasy Endhiran (Robot in Hindi) with Rajnikanth and Aishwarya, in the lead, into 3D to thwart online piracy.

Shekhar Kapoor’s Paani set in futuristic Mumbai will reportedly be shot in 3D in Spain with a foreign actress playing a 17-year old French-Canadian in the Upper City and an Indian actor as the young Indian water revolutionary. Hrithik Roshan has reportedly been approached for the male lead. The film being made in English will be dubbed in Hindi.

Buzz is that Abbas-Mustan are planning to make a 3D thriller with two leading actors. The film is said to be produced by Woodpecker Entertainment & Pictures Ltd which is collaborating with New York-based 21st Century 3D, that has worked on Call Of The Wild and Planet You.

Ram Gopal Varma is planning a 3D adventure, Raksha, with John Abraham. Also in the pipeline is a 3D horror film, Warning, with Riteish Deshmukh.

Vikram Bhatt has announced a 3D horror film,

Yama Dwar

. He’d like to cast Sushmita Sen.

Buy-and-use glasses

There have been some complaints about the 3D glasses. In some cases, the lenses fell out, in others, they didn’t sit well and in some cases, viewers simply walked away with them, not knowing where to return them and pick up their Rs 100 refund.

Ashish Saxena, CEO, Big Cinemas, admits that with 3D content being limited, they were so far using whatever glasses were available.

“But now we are debating between four options that will optimise the experience,” he says.

Devang Sampat, VP, Cinemax is more forthcoming: “As content for 3D is increasing, we’re working to convert the model, viz a viz the glasses. Soon people can choose their own glasses within a range of Rs 30 to Rs 135. They could buy the glasses and use them for repeated viewings, making it a cost-effective investment.”

2D to 3D, the great debate
James Cameron spent more than four years on the 3D groundwork for Avatar, building a system custom-tailored to his film from scratch. But Warner Bros’s Clash of the Titans was shot using regular 2D cameras and only converted into 3D post the success of Avatar.

Naturally, Cameron is upset over the rush-rush conversions and promises to take time over his own 3D re-release of Titanic and the Fantastic Voyage remake for Fox.

He has found an ally in Michael Bay who is being pressurised by Paramount and DreamWorks to allow Transformers 3 to be dimensionalised because there is no time to re- shoot in 3D camera with the July 1, 2011 release date, looming ahead.

Bay has been quoted as saying, “Right now, it looks like fake 3D, with layers that are very apparent. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it.”

Buzz is that conversion expenses have come down to just $5 million, with an additional $5 million to o pay for 3D glasses for exhibitors. But ticket prices could increase up to 26 per cent.

‘Converting the movie into 3D enhances the story telling’

In the face of a growing debate, director Louis Leterrier defends the decision to go the Cameron way.

Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk and Clash Of The Titans… which was the more difficult film to direct?
I’d say Clash Of The Titans because I wanted to take this 3D epic adventure beyond the heights of thrill and that required hours of brain storming and arduous shoots.

Converting to 3D was an afterthought prompted by Avatar’s super success?
Converting the movie into 3D enhances the illusion of depth perception and enhances the story telling. The decision was prompted by the demand to make the movie more real but I have to admit that Avatar was one of the most entertaining and enthralling cinematic experiences for me.

You are said to be a big fan of the 1981 Clash of the Titans, How much is your film inspired by that movie and in what ways is it different?
The earlier Clash of The Titans is the most spectacular film I have ever seen.It simply blew me away. It was overwhelming to be given this movie to direct. I requested special effects whiz and the film’s co-producer Ray Harryhausen to be a part of my film too but he had retired in 1981 and could not be persuaded back. His special effects were really good in the earlier Titans but may not resemble the flashy, ultra real CGI-effects we're used to seeing right now.

There’s a lot of money riding on this film. Does that give you sleepless nights?
It’s not just the money, I pray that the effort is appreciated too. Which God in Titans gave you the maximum stress?
(Laughs) Every God in my movie was so absolutely Godlike that nobody gave me stress. You have worked on Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra and The

Incredible Hulk, would you describe yourself as a comic book buff?
For me humour comes from incongruity that can be sparked off by an unexpected action, a thought or idea illustrated by a punchline or the caption of a cartoon. I believe I am quite humourous and yes, I love reading Asterix in French.

What is the one scene that makes Clash Of The Titans memorable?
The Medusa sequence. Legend has it that if you look into her eyes , you will be turned into rock. It was only our second day of shoot in a temple not meant for men.

Have you heard about Bollywood?
Sure, it is a booming industry with great artistes. It would be a good opportunity to work there. Right now though, I’m reading scripts, may be one will catch my fancy.

I used to sleep in my car before signing Avatar: Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington, James Cameron’s wheelchair-bound hero, returns as the half-man-half God Perseus.

Your Avatar is still playing in the theatres here and now Clash Of The Titans, another big ticket movie, is coming up. As ‘star of the year’ what can you tell us about James Cameron that no one knows?
Most people don’t know that it was James who referred me for Terminator Salvation during Avatar. He is a real hero to me.I’m happy to hear that Avatar has also done really well in India but I'm not here to be a star. I'm here to help tell these escape stories. If you want to be a star, go on Big Brother. With 12 larger-than-life mythical beasts, breathtaking vistas spanning the depths of hell and the heights of Mount Olympus, battles-to-death between man and the gods, Clash Of The Titans is a great story.

Given its hype, technical excellence and box-office performance, were you disappointed that Avatar did not pick up more Oscars?
I’m happy that we have won three Oscars and nine nominations for a single movie.

How often does this happen?
Jury members have their own parameters and one should let them do their job. I have seen Katherine Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, she deserves all the awards that she got.

Growing up, did you read Greek mythology and imagine that one day you would play the son of Zeus?
In Australia, we grow up learning myths like the Minotaur and the Maze. I have utmost faith in the Ayers rock as well. But my acquaintance with Greek
Gods was minimal when I started filming.

Perseus was a demanding character to play. The slate-mine in Wales sucked in the rain. That is the entrance to the underworld in our film. (Chuckles) You know you're in trouble when everyone around you is wearing hard hats to save themselves from things falling off while you're standing bareheaded in a dress.

What was your equation like with your ‘father’ Liam Neeson?
I remembered Liam from The Schindler’s list. His goodbye scene when his factory workers gift him a ring made from a worker’s gold dental bridge, touched my heart.

Unfortunately, in Clash Of The Titans, Persues’ equation with his father Zeus is not too good. He is half God but wants to change his destiny after the death of the human family who raised him. Reluctant to accept his birthright, he sets off on a perilous journey with a band of warriors to battle the evil demons and fearsome mythical creatures, in an attempt to defeat Hades, the vengeful God of the underworld.

Hades is played by another legend, Ralph Fiennes, did you get a chance to discuss his Academy Award winning performance in The English Patient with him?
Ralph never speaks about his legendary roles, so, there were no discussion on The English Patient. He is not a physically imposing man but has the ability to convey tremendous rage and strength. Hades and Zeus have a complicated on-screen relationship because they are brothers who become
adversaries. Ralph and Liam’s friendship added to that dynamic.

You were a part of Terminator Salvation, will you do another Terminator film?

Why not? The biggest thrill for me was replacing Arnold (Schwarzenegger). And what is the biggest thrill of being a movie star?

When fans recognise you but drawing public attention to yourself can be trouble too. Still, I don’t know what I’d have been if not an actor since I wasn’t very good at studies. My sole interest in school was the performing arts.

Which has been your most perilous adventure, off screen?
When I used to sleep in my car, before signing Avatar.

If one of our Bollywood filmmakers made you an offer, would you consider?
(Laughs) Give me a single reason for not considering the offer? I have heard a lot about the Khans here.

James Cameron was down in India recently, any plans of you coming here?
I spoke to him over phone, a day back after he returned from India. We didn’t discuss his next film but he urged me to visit India whenever I was free. I plan to but right now things are pretty hectic. One film after another, you are fighting for survival. There is no time even for friends and family.

Yeah, you’re working on The Texas Killing Fields, The Debt, and Last Night with Kiera Knightley and Eva Mendes.
(Laughs) You know them all. I am going to start shooting for The Texas Killing Fields soon. I play a guy who was a real cop, the film is inspired by the murders in Texas City. In Last Night you will see me flirting with the ladies. That film is complete.

In India there’s been a lot of concern over racial attacks against Indians in Australia. As an Aussie, what’s your take on the subject?
Whatever happened was not good for either countries. I just hope there won’t be any more attacks henceforth.

First Published: Mar 30, 2010 16:21 IST