It's that time again. The latest Star Wars blockbuster is hitting theaters, and fans are once again debating whether they should spend the big bucks to see the movie in 3D or not. This time, the film is Solo: A Star Wars Story, which promises to be an action-packed, intergalactic heist movie featuring the adventures of a young Han Solo. So knowing how exciting the film will be, does that mean Solo in 3D is worth it, or should fans just stick to good old-fashioned 2D for this Star Wars movie?
It really depends on how you feel about 3D movies in general. The modern era of 3D movies essentially kicked into high gear with the release of 2009's Avatar, which remains the highest-grossing film ever — thanks in part to the money it raked in from its essential 3D screenings. But now, nearly ten years later, the 3D fad appears to be waning. While most big blockbusters, like Solo, do still offer 3D screenings, there's no longer a big marketing push toward getting people to see these movies in 3D. Nor is there a large attempt by most studios to actually make the movies in 3D worth seeing. And the numbers back that up, with 3D ticket sales falling 18 percent last year, hitting their lowest level since the pre-Avatar days, according to Variety.
Avatar was a revelation in 3D, but that's because that was how the movie was intended to be seen. Director James Cameron developed a new type of stereoscopic 3D camera that was used on the film, but the bulk of the 3D movies that followed didn't take such a careful approach. Most 3D films released today are not actually filmed in 3D like Avatar. Instead, they are filmed as 2D movies and converted to 3D afterward. Many 3D fans believe this results in a far less rich 3D environment, and it's led to the reputation of 3D films as more of a lazy cash grab from studios than as cinematic innovation. In 2017, only one film — Transformers: The Last Knight — was actually filmed in 3D, according to realorfake3d.com. As a result of the downward 3D trend, some blockbuster films — like Deadpool 2 — are skipping the option entirely and only releasing their films in 2D.
Now, back to Solo. Like every other Disney Star Wars movie, the new film was not shot in 3D. Instead, it was filmed in 2D and converted to 3D in post-production. So already, 3D aficionados are probably not psyched to see the movie in the third dimension. Then there's the retro aspect of Solo, which is one of the film's main draws. The movie is meant to take place before A New Hope, which was released in 1977, and the film's marketing artwork has taken on a distinctly '70s look. Not to mention Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian, who sports both the old school swagger and fashion sense that Billy Dee Williams brought to the role back in the day. So with all of this retro goodness that Solo is putting out there, it just makes sense for fans to see the movie in 2D like they would have in the '70s — especially since it's not doing anything groundbreaking with its 3D conversion anyway.
Avatar 2 is due in theaters in 2020, and knowing James Cameron, the film will likely make an attempt at once again revolutionizing — and saving — the 3D film industry. But until that happens, 3D movies will likely continue their decline as audiences flock to see blockbusters the way they were intended (in 2D) while choosing IMAX screenings if they want a premium experience.
Having said that, there are still people who prefer 3D movies — even those that have been converted from 2D. And if you're one of those people who enjoys slapping on some recyclable glasses in a movie theater and having a little more depth on screen, then you'll probably enjoy Solo more in 3D. But for most people, the 2D screening is going to be the way to go.