WHEN: 1:00pm EST, May 1, 2013 (give or take some trailers)
WHERE: A completely empty theater at the Cinemagic Grand in South Portland, Maine
FORMAT: 3D digital projection.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Somewhat glad to be done with all this.
ONE LAST TIME:
It was an odd experience sitting in the empty theater on the next to last day of Jurassic Park‘s 3D run. It has been great having the opportunity to see a film I love so much up on the big screen, even if there is a distracting extra dimension in the mix. But it’s over now. The film, though briefly brought back from cinematic extinction, is now returning to the realm of home video. I have now seen Jurassic Park in theaters more times than any other movie. The charm of having it encompass nearly my entire field of vision has not yet worn off, though paying $10 or more each week for it has.
But, judging by the completely empty theater, the appeal to people who don’t have to watch the movie every week has faded completely. Even the man responsible for collecting the 3D glasses seemed to have forgotten about this showing. I had to seek him out, behind the concession counter, after the movie. He took them with a scowl, and I was not thanked for visiting his cinema. The meteor had hit, the sun had been blocked out. All that was left was for JP3D to curl up and die. By attending this showing, I felt as though I was only prolonging the inevitable.
Like this Triceratops, Jurassic Park was brought back from the dead, but didn’t stay healthy for long.
After over a month watching this film in theaters, I occasionally catch myself asking: was it worth re-releasing Jurassic Park in theaters? The following are some thoughts, which may or may not be relevant.
Over the course of my five viewings in theaters, only once did Jurassic Park gather a large enthusiastic audience. Even on opening day, there were only nine people (myself included) in attendance. The Sunday after its release, when I attended an IMAX showing, there was what could legitimately be called a crowd. But after that, the attendees numbered only eight, four, and finally one. With the exception of the IMAX crowd, all of these audiences were very subdued, mostly consisting of couples. On the whole, sparse at best.
Imagine this audience in a full-sized theater. Sad.
The size and enthusiasm of an audience can have a huge impact on the enjoyment you get out of a film. I saw The Hunger Games with a mass of excited fans, and while I didn’t think the movie was that great, their enjoyment of the film enhanced my own. The same thing happened when watching JP3D with the IMAX crowd. It was a blast. Unfortunately, for the majority of its four week run, the re-release seemed to have small quiet audiences, diminishing the experience significantly.
From a financial perspective, JP3D has done very nicely for itself. The 3D conversion cost Universal $10 million, and it’s raked in over $40 million in ticket sales so far. (Hey, I account for over 1/1,000,000 of that!) During its opening weekend, it took in a nice $18 million, the third best opening for a 3D re-release, after The Lion King and The Phantom Menace.
“Meesa beat out da dinosaurs!”
Yet, numbers can be deceiving. Lest we think that the world was all abuzz over Jurassic Park, we must remember that on its opening weekend, JP3D was beaten out by the Evil Dead remake, the G.I. Joe sequel and The Croods. I’m sure this says something significant about society, but damned if I know what.
THEY COULD, THEY DID, BUT SHOULD THEY HAVE?:
So in the end, was converting Jurassic Park into 3D and re-releasing it a good idea?
Well, we got the chance to go see it in theaters for the first time in 20 years, and the studio made several bags of money, so…
Yes. Yes it was.
Just not the 3D.