It's no secret that James Cameron has thrown his considerable weight behind the 3-D format as the future of cinema, or that "Avatar" has been conceived, executed and applauded as our first glimpse at how high the technology can soar. Now, with more than a billion reasons why the third dimension is here to stay, ESPN is scrambling to launch its own network, home releases like "The Final Destination" are coming to TV and DVD with glasses, and Hollywood is lining up jump-off-the-screen films faster than Nic Cage stockpiles action-movie scripts.
Now that we've been to Pandora and beyond, where do we go from here? Below, a look at the 3-D films in various stages of Hollywood development; although we can only offer you two-dimensional articles at this time, feel free to hit "print" and receive a copy that will make it feel like our text is right there in the room with you!
Cartoons - Some folks in Hollywood still seem to think that the advanced technology of modern 3-D is most suited for ... young children? Still, it's hard to argue with recent successes like "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," "Up" and "Monsters vs. Aliens." So it makes sense that high-profile upcoming cartoons include March's mythical Viking comedy "How to Train Your Dragon," July's Scrooge-like "Despicable Me" and the November Disney princess flick "Rapunzel." Of course, don't forget our favorite franchises going three-dimensional: May's "Shrek Forever After" promises to put the ogre's big, fat, beautifully repugnant self in our laps, while June's "Toy Story 3" will do the same for Woody, Buzz and all the rest of the gang. Looking further down the road, expect some childhood favorites to return more visibly than ever before, as both Yogi Bear and the Smurfs are rumored to be embracing 3-D for their film debuts.
Fantasy - What better way to be immersed in a world unlike anything you've ever seen, than to see that world with your own eyes? After 145 years and countless adaptations, Tim Burton is promising to bring us closer to Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" than ever before in March, with help from constant conspirator Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. And, while it may not receive the same sort of advance hype, keep a close eye on "Guardians of Ga'Hoole." The mysterious next film from technology-trailblazing filmmaker Zack Snyder, it involves bloodthirsty owls, an epic tale and a promise to soar off the screen at us. If "Ga'Hoole" is indeed released in 3-D, it's hard to imagine any director who could make more interesting use of the technology. "Tron Legacy," the 3-D sequel to the 1982 film "Tron," will bring Jeff Bridges back as Kevin Flynn. Now that Bridges has some experience with the technology, the Coen brothers might want to start coming up with a trippy 3-D follow-up to "The Big Lebowski."
Genre Films - Whether Cameron, Zemeckis and friends want to admit it or not, 3-D has always gone hand-in-hand with exploitative genre flicks like "House of Wax," "Captain EO" and "The Waitresses." Now the outfit has been classed up considerably — but that doesn't mean that "Piranha 3-D" won't be throwing fish, flesh and famous people like Richard Dreyfuss and Elisabeth Shue at you this April. The medium will then kick up its heels with "Step Up 3-D" in August, and get filthy with "Jackass 3D," which will reportedly fling all sorts of unmentionable fluids in the audience's direction. Keeping true to the series' roots, the new "Friday the 13th" series is reportedly planning to stay one step ahead of the original by making a late 2010/ early 2011 sequel that brings Jason three-dimensionality.
Future Classics - All those aforementioned movies sound fine and good, but what's the next "Avatar"? Which upcoming 3-D film will advance the medium and further capture our imaginations? The smart money would seem to be on 2011's "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn," an eagerly anticipated project currently bringing Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson together to tell a generations-old story of the eponymous adventurer. Beyond that, perhaps it will be Cameron who eventually tops himself with his long-discussed "Battle Angel," or the cave-diving drama he's producing called "Sanctum." Last but not least, one thing we haven't seen in new-school 3-D yet is superheroes — an oversight that the visionaries at Marvel hope to correct in the next few years.
Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."
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