Paramount to Release Brighter Digital Print of TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON; Is It About Quality or Commerce?

     June 23, 2011


Perhaps as part of Hollywood’s ongoing attempt to convince moviegoers that 3D films are truly worth the inflated cost of admission, Paramount Pictures and director Michael Bay are doing their part to increase the projection brightness for the upcoming Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Earlier in the week, Bay contacted chain theater owners asking them to turn up the brightness on their projectors when showing Dark of the Moon in 3D so as to make the pic “look brighter and sharper.” Now, the studio is shipping out an enhanced digital print of the film to around 2,000 theaters with the purpose of projecting the film at nearly twice the standard level of brightness. So, are Paramount and Bay’s efforts coming from an altruistic concern for higher quality projection or are they simply an attempt to assure 3D’s relevance? Decide for yourself after the jump.

transformers_movie_image_michael_bay__1_We learned that Bay reached out to chain theater owners via the New York Times. In that report, Bay talks up the visual merits of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, saying:

“If this was having my name on it, I was determined to make it technically perfect. We’ve spent an enormous amount of time making sure the eye is transitioned from shot to shot.”

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore did his best to argue that increased brightness efforts are in the best interest of the consumer (while simultaneously pushing Dark of the Moon), adding:

“The consumer has had a reaction to bad 3-D and subtle 3-D. They’re tired of sitting in a theater thinking, ‘Wait, is this movie in 3-D or not?’ Well, with ‘Transformers’ people are going to leave saying, ‘You absolutely must see this in 3-D.’ ”

As for Paramount’s ultra-bright print of the film, Variety broke the news of the studio’s unprecedented move adding that the print would only go out to theaters using the RealD 3D technology. The report claims that the enhanced Dark of the Moon print has been graded at 6 foot-lamberts. By comparison, the typical 3D standard brightness is almost half of that with IMAX dual-projectors averaging approximately 5.5 FL.

So far, all of this sounds well and good for the consumer who has long been getting the shaft on projection brightness for 2D pics and 3D pics alike because of this simple equation: brighter projection means that bulbs burn out faster which means that they have to be replaced more often which, of course, increases operation costs for theater owners. However, when you take into account Deadline‘s report that the studio forced theaters who wanted to show the film’s June 28th early screenings to show it in 3D and/or IMAX or not at all, you have to question how concerned they are with the quality of projection vs. how concerned they are with making sure the people most excited to check out the film (a.k.a. the people attending the early screening) have to dish out the extra cost of admission to do so.

movie-theater-01I know there is a lot of ill-will towards 3D films as being studio money grabs and while the inflated box office numbers certainly play a role in the technology being used in seemingly every project with a potential explosion, I tend to think that this particular case is driven by concerns of both commerce and quality. After all, if moviegoers truly do have their 3D experience enhanced by the increased brightness, won’t that foster their faith in the technology? If so, it’s a positive for both Paramount who will gladly rake in the increased ticket revenues and for moviegoers that are interested in the highest quality 3D projection available.

With all of this in mind, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on Dark of the Moon‘s enhanced print and the motives behind its release. Sound off in the comments.


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