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Love it or hate it, ‘Life of Pi’ home release shows 3D is here to stay

Eric Pfeiffer
The Lookout

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"Life of Pi" wowed audiences with its use of 3D. (20th Century Fox)

The 2012 hit film “Life of Pi” is out on Blu-ray today. While most people who purchase the film will watch it in traditional 2D, high-definition 3D sales of the film are making a strong debut. And it’s no coincidence, because the Ang Lee film–which won the 2013 Academy Award for best director–is arguably one of the biggest accomplishments for 3D on the big screen.

So, is 3D getting another shot on the home market? The industry buzz has been focused on the new Ultra-HD TVs, but most analysts predict that the steep entry price for these new sets will keep their sales low for years to come.

But the cost of 3D TVs has come down dramatically, with big screen options available for less than $1,000. So, while the number of people watching 3D programming through cable remains quite small, there appears to be a growing market for 3D home video sales.

And "Life of Pi" is the perfect example of that newly emerging dynamic. Much like 2009’s blockbuster "Avatar," "Life of Pi" is a movie that was truly meant to be seen in 3D. Unlike other films that tried to jump on to the 3D bandwagon a few years ago, "Life of Pi" was crafted in such a way that its 3D elements truly help push the film’s story forward, rather than simply serve as a visual gimmick.

But does that effective use of technology translate to sales? Or is 3D a fading fad as many have predicted? The numbers suggest that 3D still has a long way to go and may never become a dominant medium, but it’s far from a lost cause.

On Amazon, the number one-selling movie is the forthcoming 3D Blu-ray release of “The Hobbit.” And "Life of Pi" is not far behind, at number eight. Both movies are also currently in the top two positions of all 3D Blu-ray sales.

And the number one movie in the U.S. this weekend was “Oz The Great and Powerful,” which was also filmed in 3D by director Sam Raimi.

Beyond that, other franchise films like "Star Trek" are releasing their next series entries in 3D for the first time. And classic films like Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” are getting the 3D treatment in theatrical releases and eventual sales on 3D Blu-ray.

In other words, it would seem that 3D is here to stay. While the technology has been in place for a number of years, it’s taken the market awhile to catch up in an economy where consumers must carefully weigh their big-ticket purchases.

As entrepreneur Leslie Bradshaw told Yahoo News, “On average, people purchase new TVs every five to seven years. When you factor in the added synergy between smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, there is likely to be a strong boost in next-generation TV sales over the next two years.”

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