Helmer asks moviegoers to 'step up' their experience

In the runup to his 3D TV pitch at the NAB Show, James Cameron called on movie audiences to become more vocal about the quality of 3D they’re seeing at theaters.

“It’s good for people to be selective,” said Cameron. “I think it’s good for the exhibition community to get that feedback. We are not going to your theater because your light levels are not as good as the other theater. I think that’s important for them to hear.”

Cameron noted that Paramount checked theater light levels before the release of “Titanic 3D,” as they had done last summer before the release of “Transformers 3.” With that alignment program, he said, “We’re not going to succeed in every theater but we’re going to have a much higher success rate.”

“So what we need now is for the audience to give feedback to the theaters. ‘We like this theater. We don’t like that theater. And you guys have to step up.'”

Cameron said that the RealD XL can already provide good light levels for 3D, but some exhibitors are installing it, then turning the projector lamp down to eke more life out of it. “How stuipid is that?,” he said. “That’s giving with one hand and taking with the other, but you’re taking from the audience at the same time you’re charging them a premium ticket price.

“People have to understand they have to earn that premium revenue by making sure it’s a premium experience, and light levels are the key issue I think in 3D in theaters,” said Cameron. “When you give people the light levels, it’s been demonstrably proven, they feel the value added, they feel like they’re getting something special. If you don’t give them the light levels, they feel like they’re being ripped off.”

He added “This whole idea of a premium ticket price has got to go away, because at the exact moment when more movies are made in 3D than not, even if it’s 51%, then it’s not the special case, it’s the normal case, and you can’t charge extra for the normal case.”

Cameron looked relaxed as he spoke to Variety at the Wynn Hotel, and why not? His epic “Titanic 3D” was cleaning up at the international box office to the tune of $99.8 million for the weekend worldwide. Its $190.8 in re-release nudged the title about $2 billion in total cume.

“People are still seeking out the 3D experience,” he said. “That’s true here, it’s true in China, it’s true in Russia. It’s true everywhere.” Dark projection is an impediment to 3D, he said, and he called on exhibs to step up now, not wait for such advances as laser light engines (which were demonstrated on Saturday at the SMPTE Technology Summit on Cinema).

“There’s a tendency in our business to wait until the technology solves it for you. The technology already exists. The RealD XL projectors provide more than enough light if they’re just used properly.”

The success of “Avatar” and “Titanic 3D” even as auds have become more cautious about buying 3D tickets suggests Cameron himself has become a 3D brand. Cameron said he hopes that Cameron-Pace Group, his 3D tech company that also offers a 3D certification program for pics, will become achieve brand-name recognition as a quality mark, like Dolby and THX.

“Branding is important,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a consumer level brand. It has to be a brand within the business, so broadcasters look to us as somebody they can partner with and have reliability, so it’s not going to be some scary experiment every time they go out there and do 3D.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more