James Cameron has a rule at his house — TV and movie viewing is a family event, not a solo pursuit.
“More and more people, especially kids, are taking in their entertainment on tablets and laptops,” said the father of five and director of “Avatar” and “Titanic.” “It’s the, ‘I’m gonna isolate, single viewer’ kind of scenario. I’m not in favor of it personally, ’cause the family fragments…. Everybody’s got their own screen, their own experience.”
Cameron has been thinking a lot about couch potato habits lately, as he attempts to help usher 3-D into homes with the introduction of 3-D Blu-ray versions of three of his movies this fall: a “Titanic” 3-D Blu-ray set was released Sept. 10; his Titanic documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss” hit stores Sept. 11; and an “Avatar” 3-D Blu-ray set will debut in North America Oct. 16.
Though he is Hollywood’s most high-profile 3-D proponent, Cameron isn’t the only filmmaker whose work is now becoming available in 3-D Blu-ray — blockbusters such as “The Avengers,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Finding Nemo” will also debut in the format over the next three months.
To watch these movies as they’re intended to be seen, audiences will need to have a 3-D-capable TV set and Blu-ray player—a more than $1,000 purchase most consumers have seemed reluctant to make. According to research the Consumer Electronics Assn. released in May, less than a quarter of prospective TV buyers in the U.S. say they are looking to buy a 3-D-capable TV set.
“It’s not happening as fast as I had hoped, but it’s happening,” Cameron said of 3-D adoption in homes. “It’s making steady progress, we’re not retrenching or reversing.”
Part of what’s held consumers back has been lack of 3-D content — an issue the release of films like “Avatar” and “The Avengers” should begin to address. Cameron has also worked, via his 3-D production company Cameron Pace Group, to help ESPN televise live sporting events like the X Games and Major League Soccer in the format.
But another barrier for consumers, according to Cameron, is that current 3-D technology doesn’t fit comfortably with the sporadic way home audiences take in their favorite programming.
“The home viewing scenario is fundamentally different than it is in a movie theater,” Cameron said. “In a movie theater you make a contract with yourself, for two hours, two-and-a-half hours, and you’ll sit there with the glasses on. At home, you have to put ’em on, take ’em off, put ’em on, take ’em off.”
It’ll take 3-D that doesn’t require glasses, Cameron said, to win most home viewers over. And the easiest way to deliver that is on a single viewer format like an iPad or laptop — just the kind Cameron said his kids will have to wait until they’re out of the house to enjoy.
– Rebecca Keegan
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