In 2009, “Avatar” blew past previous box office records with its special effects and widespread 3D release. After years as a novelty, James Cameron had everyone believing realistic 3D was the next form of immersive storytelling.
But Cameron’s world of 3D never became a reality; 3D movies and television are rapidly declining in popularity.
Meanwhile, a similar craze has taken over in the video game industry: virtual reality. Oculus VR, Sony’s Project Morpheus, Samsung’s Gear VR and Google Cardboard are already vying for dominance in the new medium.
But it’s still unclear if virtual reality will have any real staying power. Will it learn from its predecessor’s mistakes, or is it just another 3D fad?
The 3D problem
While some were hailing 3D as the next big thing in cinema, moviegoers think otherwise. According to Deadline, movies released in 3D are earning less and less each year from 3D showings, with 2014 expected to have the lowest percentage yet.
And 2014 also has the lowest number of 3D releases in recent years: 28, down from 34 in 2013 and a peak of 29 in 2011. Hollywood seems to recognize 3D films are failing and it’s adjusting accordingly.