Justin Bieber is currently at a theatre near you.
In 3D, no less.
Soon, so will Thor, Captain America, and Darth Vader. Roger Rabbit, too.
And it goes way back beyond the future era of blue avatars and extends beyond sci-fi to a fantasy of a more skintastic nature.
In the 1890s, British film pioneer William Friese-Greene filed a patent for a 3D movie process and started the visual legacy that has since immersed us in worlds that shimmer and pop. Until the early 20th century, studios and filmmakers were using stereoscopic 3D technology. These films were broadcast on two separate screens, and through the stereoscope, our eyes would merge them into a 3D image.
The first commercial 3D film was The Power of Love, which premiered at the Ambassador Hotel theatre in Los Angeles on September 27, 1922. It was a silent rom-com that played with our sense of sight, making use of the iconic anaglyph glasses with the different coloured lenses.
The Golden Age of 3D film began in 1952 with the release of the first colour stereoscopic feature, Bwana Devil. Facing competition from the growing popularity of TV, studios and filmmakers vied to bring something new and interesting to the viewing public. On November 26, 1952, this low-budget independent feature film about man-eating lions opened to sold-out crowds waiting in lines that spanned several blocks.
Witnessing the success of Bwana Devil, Warner Bros. Pictures contracted the film's production team to work on its own House of Wax, which premiered nationwide on April 10, 1953. The movie not only became a cult classic in both the horror and 3D film categories, it also forever branded Vincent Price as a horror star.
Universal Pictures added to the repertoire of 3D monster flicks with its 1954 classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. It generated two sequels, Revenge of the Creature, also in 3D, and The Creature Walks Among Us, shot flat. The story follows a scientific expedition team that encounters an amphibious creature along the Amazon River.
After the 3D craze of the 1950s subsided, the 1969 soft-core skin flick, The Stewardesses, bucked the trend, eventually becoming the highest earning 3D film ever. That is, until 2009 when a certain blockbuster took over the spot by storm. The Stewardesses was produced on a budget of just over $100,000 and grossed over $27 million.
With a tagline that screamed, '3-D! It's Back! It's Bigger! It's Better! And it's... Comin' At Ya!,' the 1981 Western, Comin' at Ya!, revived the 3D movie boom in the early 1980s.
Steven Spielberg's 1983 beachside thriller spawned a 3D version in its second sequel, Jaws 3-D, joining the rest of the 1980s horror film offering, which included Friday the 13th Part III and Amityville 3-D.
In 1986, Disney Theme Parks and Universal Studios started showcasing 3D films in special venues, and in 1991, Jim Henson's Muppets opened at Disney's Hollywood studios. The show is sometimes called Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 4-D since it used a live full-bodied Muppet and other similar effects.
Hindsight can also be 3D. In 2003, the visionary Oscar winner and future Avatar director James Cameron started another wave of 3D film with his documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss. It delivered never-before-seen underwater visuals of the Titanic ship wreck.
Robert Zemeckis remade the popular children's book, The Polar Express, with 3D visuals in his 2004 motion capture computer-animated film. Taking its viewers on a magical train ride into a Christmas wonderland, the movie garnered a domestic box office gross of over $181 million.
James Cameron created another titanic blockbuster with Avatar. It is the highest grossing film of all time--grossing $2.78 billion worldwide--and one of the most expensive films with a budget of $237 million. Avatar 2, scheduled for a 2014 release, will take viewers to new depths. Cameron plans to shoot at the deepest location on earth in the Mariana Trench.
Tim Burton's star-studded Alice in Wonderland brought us fairy tale versions of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. The movie was released in March 2010, and grossed $1.02 billion worldwide.
The adored children's toys really came to life in Pixar's Toy Story 3. The swashbuckling adventure, released on June 18, 2010, brought in over $1 billion worldwide, making it the fifth highest grossing film to date.
2011 opened with a virtual kick in the face with the January release of The Green Hornet. The superhero duo has brought in nearly $140 million worldwide.
All those millions of the Beiber-fevered can nearly reach out and touch him on Friday. Justin Bieber's 3D bio flick, Never Say Never, premieres on February 11. Oh, baby, baby, baby.
Also on February 11, Touchstone Pictures debuts its mini-sized and much-publicized story of Gnomeo and Juliet.
Marvel will be bringing the Thor, the hero of Norse mythology, to the 3D silver screen on May 6, 2011. Fellow Marvel superhero, Captain America, will be coming to theatres a few months later on July 22, 2011.
George Lucas plans to re-release all six Star Wars movies in 3-D, from the 1977 original through 2005's Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith. The 1999 prequel, The Phantom Menace will be the first film in this 3-D sequence in 2012.
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