IMAX 3D on DVD ?

Quite a few IMAX films have been produced in 3D – including a few retrofitted feature films the studios figured worthy of testing on the giant screen – but so far, if you set aside Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (2008) and a handful of CGI oddities like The Haunted Castle (2001) and S.O.S. Planet (2002), only Bugs! (2003) has made it to DVD in both 2D and 3D versions (albeit as a Region 2 release).

Warner Bros.’ Deep Sea 3D (2006) is only available ‘flat,’ and it’s unsure if the studio will include a 3D version of the film when its sequel, Under the Sea 3D, makes its way to DVD and Blu-ray.

On the German DVD and HD-DVD discs, one has the option of watching Bugs! flat or in red-blue anaglyph 3D, which isn’t the best method, but the process in this particular instance is more successful than prior anaglyph DVDs, notably the new Friday the 13th 3D disc from Paramount (to be reviewed shortly), the first-time release of The Stewardesses (1969) in colour and black & white 3D versions (also to be reviewed), Robert Rodriguez’ Spy Kids films and its kidvid derivations, and the old Rhino 3D editions of Comin At Ya! (1981) and Arch Oboler’s The Bubble (1966).

The good news is the 3D transfer mostly works – mostly, in terms of maintaining a sense of perceptible depth – but the picture isn’t razor sharp, the colours aren’t all that stable, and your eyes are messed up for a while. But hey, until some universal standard is developed that comes in a simple box people can easily plug between their TVs players, and wear the same (and relatively) light grey sunglasses used in most current 3D theatrical venues, there’s, uh, the cardboard glasses.

There are other alternatives out there right now – software like 3DTV that lets you play back the encoded films on computer, or Slingshot’s boxed set of IMAX CGI films that come packed with the LCD box and glasses - but as far as the red-blue or red-green glasses go, one can see why studios are reluctant to spend money on transfers that don’t look particularly great, and give some people eye strain and headaches.

In any event, 2009 will see the release of more 3D IMAX films and ‘IMAX Experiences’ from the studios: besides a Jonas Brothers concert film, there’s Monsters vs. Aliens, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Robert Zemeckis’ animated version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (hopefully without creepy-faced humanoids), and James Cameron’s Avatar.

Planned for 2010 are Hubble 3D, and the studio productions How to Train Your Dragon, and Shrek Goes Fourth (Mike Myers’ formal apology for The Love Guru).

Whether prior IMAX films will be given 3D DVD editions in 2009 or 2010 is a murky mystery, but for those wanting to scratch off whatever does come out, here’s a list edited from the Wikipedia entry for all IMAX films:

3D Films

We Are Born of Stars (1985)
Transitions (1986)
Into the Deep (1994)
Wings of Courage (1995)
Across the Sea of Time (1995)
The Hidden Dimension (May 9, 1997)
The IMAX Nutcracker (1997)
T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous
Alien Adventure (1999)
Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box (1999)
Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999)

Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (2000)
Cyberworld 3D (2000)
Haunted Castle (2001)
SOS Planet (2002)
Space Station 3D (2002)
Misadventures in 3D (2003)
Ocean Wonderland 3D (2003)
Ghosts of the Abyss (2003)
Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure (2003)
Sharks 3D (2004)
NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience (2004)

Wild Safari 3D (2005)
Aliens of the Deep (2005)
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (2005)
Deep Sea 3D (2006)
Dinosaurs Alive 3D (2007)
Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia 3D (2007)
African Adventure: Safari in the Okavango (2007)
Mummies 3D: Secrets of the Pharaohs (2007)
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (2007)
Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean (2008)
Wild Ocean 3D (2008)
U2 3D (2008)

IMAX 3D Experiences (studio films):

The Polar Express: The IMAX 3D Experience (First feature-length film to be released in both 35 mm and IMAX 3D) (2004)
Superman Returns: The IMAX 3D Experience (partial 3D) (2006)
The Ant Bully: The IMAX 3D Experience (2006)
Open Season: The IMAX 3D Experience (2006)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The IMAX 3D Experience (partial 3D) 2007)
Beowulf: The IMAX 3D Experience (2007)



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