China’s LeTV Brings VR Headset, Smart TV, More to the U.S.

Though LeTV is little known in the U.S., that’s about to change. The Chinese online video and consumer electronics behemoth, which posted an estimated $1.6 billion in revenue last year, is about to introduce U.S. consumers to its Android-based smartphone, a bike with an integrated GPS device, smart TVs with voice control, a 4K video streaming box and a VR headset. The company plans to initially focus on the 3 million Chinese speakers in the U.S. but has also inked a two-picture deal with “Lion King” director Rob Minkoff. Continue reading China’s LeTV Brings VR Headset, Smart TV, More to the U.S.

Aging Hollywood Movies to get 3D Makeover: Will Audiences Respond?

  • Hollywood is moving to convert its previously-released blockbuster hits into 3D. James Cameron is spending a year and $18 million to convert “Titanic” to 3D; “Star Wars” and “Top Gun” are two others in production.
  • “Like a bunch of aging starlets, some older blockbusters are undergoing major cosmetic enhancement to prepare for their comebacks,” reports Los Angeles Times.
  • Disney recently spent $10 million on the 17-year-old animated feature “The Lion King,” whose surprising box office success during the last few weeks may lead to additional conversions.
  • “For studios, it’s easy to see why spending $10 million or so to render a beloved film in three dimensions holds appeal: There’s a built-in fan base,” suggests the article. “But there are risks too: As the number of 3D films in theaters has ballooned, American audiences have become more selective about which ones they deem worth the premium ticket prices.”
  • Software improvements have made 3D conversions less expensive and, as a result, makes the prospect more difficult for Hollywood to resist.
  • Yet despite its big-name public champions such as Cameron, George Lucas and Tony Scott, there are still those who remain skeptical. The 3D conversion “undercuts the quality of the film and the verisimilitude of the film,” believes Wheeler Winston Dixon, professor of film studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “It’s to re-direct it and destroy it. This is a poor idea artistically and a poor idea financially.”
  • Either way, the movement is underway and we should expect to see more 3D “makeovers” of older films in the near future.

Four Theories on the Decline of 3D Cinema: Lessons for Revival?

  • In 2010 Hollywood studios released what Slate refers to as “a run of record-smashing, premium-priced blockbusters: ‘Avatar,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ ‘Clash of the Titans,’ ‘Shrek Forever After,’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ — a half-dozen 3D movies that earned more than $2 billion in domestic sales.”
  • However, while the new generation of 3D cinema showed initial box office promise, the next wave of 3D movies have grossed significantly less than their 2D versions.
  • Slate takes a compelling look at some of the reasons 3D has recently become less popular with theatergoers and, in the process, provides information that could help revive the format.
  • Theater chains, for example, raised their prices for 3D screenings by 20 percent or more, while the 3D trend was already showing signs of decline. PricewaterhouseCoopers has suggested that 3D could revive if the chains limited their premium to a couple of dollars.
  • Some film studios applied 3D “purely for the profit motive,” as James Cameron has been quoted. Films were converted to 3D instead of being produced in 3D from the start, a technology “cheat” that some believe led to viewer disappointment.
  • Additionally, shrewd consumers may not always feel that the 3D experience is worth the extra price, especially if the 3D is designed to be unobtrusive. Film critic A. O. Scott pointed out this is “one of the pitfalls of that format, which is that if the 3D is unobtrusive enough that you don’t really notice it, you may as well forego the disposable glasses and the surcharge that comes with them.”
  • And the final theory offered by Slate involves “hack” filmmakers who have applied 3D to a string of bad movies, which may have been the same reason 3D died in the 1950s.
  • It’s interesting to note that on the heels of the Slate article, a 3D re-release topped the box office this past weekend. An enhanced version of Disney’s “The Lion King” earned $29.3 million (with 92 percent of the gross from 3D screens). This is the third time the 1994 film has been widely screened in theaters, but the first time a 3D version has been available. Was earning more in weekend ticket sales than the other three newcomers combined the result of nostalgia or the first-time availability of a 3D version?