Sunday, September 24, 2006


Will ‘Open Season’ in 3D bring kids back to theaters?

Just spent a rainy weekend afternoon at a 3D screening of the kids cartoon comedy “Open Season” with my eight-year-old son and the experience led to thoughts about more than the number of quality laughs in the movie. Warching the film with a large audience of children, all of us sporting 3D glasses; may provide answers to the rising dilemma of teenagers choosing gaming, text messaging and other handheld leisure activities over repeated trips to the movies.
“Open Season,” a slapstick comedy about a domesticated bear named Boog (voice of Martin Lawrence) trying to adjust to life in the forest with the help of a nutty deer named Elliot (voice of Ashton Kutcher), may be a kids cartoon movie like any other. What separated this trip to the movies from the typical couch potato experience were an IMAX-sized screen and a steady stream of smile-generating 3D effects. Basically, no matter how good you’re home theater system may be, it’s impossible to match the wow of a giant IMAX picture and the virtual feel of 3D images. The big experience made the run-of-the-mill “Open Season” better, more fun and a trip worth taking. If 3D can boost the slapstick gags in a movie like “Open Season,” it’s safe to assume that it would also help current teen-targeted comedies like “Jackass 2” and “School for Scoundrels.” After all, teens, like their younger siblings, want something different, a bigger, flashier movie experience.
Then again, the simple idea that bigger is better may not be the answer theater owners and movie distributors are seeking. I asked my eight-year-old if he had the choice between watching “Open Season” on his video iPod or going to the cinema, what would he choose? His answer was a toss-up. So I pushed the question further, emphasizing the joy of watching a movie on a big screen.
“Dad,” he told me. “It’s not about big and small. It’s about portability.”
Leave it to an eight-year-old to perfectly sum up the challenge facing movies in an era of handheld, downloadable entertainment.

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