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Mind Your Business: 'Alice' vs. 'Dragons' in 3-D

Mark Simon compares the 3-D experiences of Alice in Wonderland and How to Train Your Dragon.


Alice in Wonderland or How to Train Your Dragon? Which is better? Read on.

Stereoscopic 3-D is all the rage right now. Going out to movies is an event again.

I love 3-D movies… Well, I love real 3-D movies (with great stories). So far, I'm not impressed with most movies that are converted to 3-D in post.

Sure, a lot of the shots look great, but when you sit for 90-120 minutes, the whole damn thing better look great. It only takes a few bad shots to ruin it and give you a headache.

As you may have read, Alice in Wonderland was converted to 3-D in post. I saw it in IMAX 3D with three kids and four adults. Everyone agreed that the 3-D was not great, plus the movie was boring. Yes, the FX visuals were cool, but you don't care for any of the characters, so the action was meaningless.

Three of the four adults declared they will not spend the extra money again to see a 3-D movie in IMAX as we walked out of the theater. This is not a good thing for our industry.

I know Alice is making a lot of money, but you can blame Johnny Depp, a really cool looking Red Queen and great marketing for the large cash haul. The movie itself does not deserve to make that kind of moola.

On the other hand, How to Train Your Dragon was created and exported in 3-D. It represents a true stereoscopic vision. You can see the difference in the first 30 seconds. As the movie started the entire audience went "Whoa…." The 3-D is spectacular and comfortable. At the screening I saw last week, the audience applauded at the end (which is better than the groans I heard at the Alice screening).

Plus, the movie and characters are a lot better than I expected. Unlike many movies, it's actually better than the trailers. Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois did a great job directing, especially considering they had only a year to revise and redo the movie.

And the animation? DreamWorks has hit a new level of quality with animating hair. I found myself amazed at the incredible beards. Then I noticed the light glistening off of the arm hair of some of the characters. Amazing!

Plus, now I believe that dragons can fly. The weight and motion are totally believable. The only thing that kept me from noticing more about how well it was animated was the story. The story had me hooked.

With so many 3-D movies being released, theater owners don't have enough 3-D screens for all of them. This will be an issue as Dragon will not only be competing with Alice but also Clash of the Titans (another 3-D post conversion), which opens this weekend.

Theater owners, when you are deciding which movies to fill your 3-D screens, think ahead. Please give preference to movies actually shot in 3-D (like Dragon and other CG-animated ones). You may be getting people into Alice in 3-D, but some are leaving with a bad impression and walking out with a headache.

Giving preference to good 3-D will thus keep customers coming back for more and they will continue paying $3-5 more per ticket.

My wife has sworn she won't pay for IMAX 3D again unless it's a movie comparable to Avatar. I may be able to get her into the IMAX 3D of Dragon, but Alice really soured her on spending the extra cash.

Avatar's success made every studio think they will make more money by releasing their movies in 3-D. In the short term it's probably true. However, too many movies with bad 3-D conversions and terrible stories will grind the stereoscopic money-making machine to a halt.

I judge movies by which ones I want to add to my collection. Alice in Wonderland obviously won't be making it into my DVD case. But, How to Train Your Dragon will definitely be an early purchase. Plus, I'll buy it again when I finally invest in one of those cool 3-D monitors.

Mark Simon is an award-winning animation director/producer. His animation is online at He is also the co-founder of Listen to his free webinar on the Top 5 TV Pitch Tips. Go to