While China’s box office seems destined to go from one high-budget action blockbuster to another, apparently there is something that will get Chinese audiences rushing out of the theater — excessive 3D effects.
“Jason Bourne,” the zillionth edition in the internationally famous film franchise starring China-favorite Matt Damon looked prepared to make an absolute killing in China. On its opening day, on Tuesday, the movie raked in over 74 million RMB; however, reviews were a bit mixed.
Audiences complained that the film’s 3D effects left them feeling sick, dizzy and uncomfortable. It turns out that director Paul Greengrass’ signature shaky hand-held camera-shooting style doesn’t lend itself too well to an enjoyable 3D experience.
“There were a line of people throwing up in the restroom of the cinema I went to yesterday…I’m not exaggerating,” one Weibo user wrote, according to Quartz.
While the film still holds a strong 7.4 rating on Douban, many reviewers couldn’t help but subtract a star for the film’s sickening use of 3D.
To make matters worse, Chinese audiences were specially treated to this miserable cinematic experience. The rest of the world watched the movie in 2D, as it was originally shot. The film was only converted into 3D in post-production. On Weibo, Universal Pictures has since said that it will work with local distributors to get them to offer more 2D screenings.
And there lies the bigger problem. As of Thursday, only 8 of 149 movie theaters in Beijing were showing the 2D version of the film, according to The Beijing News. In Shanghai, that number was just 9 of 174. Theaters prefer to show 3D movies because audiences generally prefer them and because they can make more money that way. The average price of a 2D movie ticket in China is 30 yuan ($4.50), but a 3D movie ticket can cost twice as much.
At least some moviegoers are tired of this and protested at a Beijing theater on Thursday, holding up signs demanding the cinema “refund our tickets.” “The 3D version is a rip-off. It’s been happening many times in China and must be stopped,” Zhou Yuchen, the leader of the protest, told Global Times.
All this negative attention does seem to have hurt “Jason Bourne” at the box office, with the film dropping 36% on Wednesday, China Film Insider reports.
Perhaps this will make Hollywood studios more careful about exploiting China’s love for 3D. In the past, movies like “Iron Man 3” and “2012” have offered China-exclusive 3D versions of films. But it’s incredibly unlikely that there will be an overall dent in the number of 3D movies in China. Many theaters in China are new, meaning that over 80% of them are able to project movies in 3D. Wanda, the country’s largest cinema chain, announced earlier this month plans to build another 4,000 3D screens across the country by the end of the decade — though it was recently forced to temporarily shut down its 3D movie theme park.