Unlike the most die-hard Star Wars fans, I have no strong opinion on whether Star Wars should be re-released in 3D, but when the conversion is finished and released in 2012, I think it will be a pivotal moment for 3D movies.
This is only partly because of Star Wars' ability to draw a crowd. Of course, Star Wars 3D will bring people to theaters - assuming 3D hasn't been dismissed as a cheap gimmick in two years, and that's not a given - but it will also prove, or disprove, that 2D-to-3D conversion can be done in a way that doesn't completely stink.
Obviously, Star Wars was not originally filmed in 3D. Doing so requires two cameras, positioned carefully in a way that can mimic the vantage point of each eye. The really good 3D movies, like Avatar, use two cameras. Cheap live-action movies, like Clash of the Titans and Piranha 3D, don't bother, because the process is too time-consuming and expensive, and it shows. Michael Bay and James Cameron have expressed scorn and skepticism for 2D-to-3D conversion. Dreamworks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg ripped cheap 3D as Hollywood's newest way to "make a bad movie worse."
Star Wars, we're told, will be different. John Knoll, a visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic, said in a statement that the 2012 release date is necessary for a quality 2D-to-3D conversion. "It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results," he said.
If time is really all it takes to craft believable 3D from a 2D movie, the implications are huge. A successful Star Wars 3D would surely spawn other re-releases - imagine The Matrix, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Road Warrior, Indiana Jones - thereby extending 3D to the classics. A failure would expose the pitfalls of 2D-to-3D conversion on a grand scale, jeopardizing any future efforts.
How fitting, then, that the first re-released Star Wars film will be Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. If Jar Jar Binks isn't the biggest cause of headaches when filmgoers don their glasses, 3D will be in big trouble.
This story, "Star Wars 3D Will Be a Moment of Truth" was originally published by Technologizer.