Follow TV Tropes


Platform / 3-D Movie

Go To
The wave of the future! Color? Pfft. It Will Never Catch On.

Don Hertzfeldt, host of The Animation Show, after trying on 3D glasses for the first time

3D film is way Older Than They Think. Stereoscopy itself (the art of tricking our brains to create an illusion of depths) was invented back in 1838, and attempts at applying this technology to films were made as early as the 1890s. However, 3D films were little more than novelty, and failed to catch much interest.

3D movies first became a fad for a few short years in the 1950s; they were expensive to show and required special equipment that was often not used correctly. A second 3D movie fad began in the early 1980s with the low budget Western Comin' At Ya!; this was when film franchises started releasing their third movies in 3D, and television station would even occasionally show 1950s 3D movies using red/blue glasses.

After trickling out around 1984 or so, 3D movies came around again in the 2000s, creating the third 3D movie fad. Advances in computer technology made it much easier to create 3D movies in general, and especially in computer animation. This is also after IMAX had spread. People have noted modern 3D has worked best with animation with animated feature films being the most highly praised 3D productions to date such as How to Train Your Dragon (98% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Toy Story 3 (99%). However, the increased costs to produce 3D movies, coupled with the recent decline in attendence of 3D movies, has caused some speculators to express concern over the longevity of the format. The failure to get 3D television sets into homes also does not bode well for the format. However, with major 3D productions still being released and scheduled a decade after the beginning of the latest fad, even if limited mainly to IMAX and other high-end chains, others are seeing this as 3D getting its foot in the door, and that the technology will have peaks and troughs in popularity until some film comes along and does for it what The Wizard of Oz did for color.

3D Movies have their own variation of Shoot the Money where things will jut out towards the audience a lot more frequently than would occur in a 2D movie. See Paddleball Shot for examples.

Thanks to the proliferation of 3D movies, studios naturally have jumped at the chance to get more money out of their audiences by converting movies into 3D which were shot "flat" (with only one camera). However, this often turns out imperfectly, due to having to squeeze a lot of intricate post-production work (imagine having to cut out a piece of an image in Photoshop, then adjust it to move twenty-four times a second—now imagine doing it for multiple layers of an image, for the entire length of a feature film) into the short period before a fast approaching release date. Critics such as Roger Ebert, already pretty biased against 3D, are even more venomous towards fake 3D, with some contemptuously defining it as "2.5D" (not to be confused with the video game trope).

It has been noted by several of these critics that, like the other big periods of 3D movies in the 1950s and 1980s, the recent boom of 3D releases comes when Hollywood's profit margins are significantly under threat by an outside force (television in the first case, home recording and VHS in the second, downloading and DVD today) with the consequence that studios are desperately looking for any old gimmick that will get people into movie seats. There has also been some recent concern about 3D movies wreaking havoc with the focus and convergence of people's vision. Another issue has been a few theaters being too lazy to change out the 3D lens of their projectors when they put on a 2D movie instead, leaving those patrons stuck with a very dim image on the screen to watch. 3D movies' popularity began to noticeably wane towards the end of the New 10s as audiences began tiring of the effect and began deriding 3D as a gimmick to gouge audience wallets and many theater chains simply stopped showing 3D versions of movies and exclusively screened 2D versions instead.

See Three-Dimensional Episode for non-3D series with episodes in 3D. (Which can overlap with 3D movies if it's a series of movies.) For movies that are made with 3DCG animation, see All-CGI Cartoon.

See also 3D Comic Book, the print version of this.


Movies filmed in 3D (incomplete)

Movies filmed in 2D and converted to 3D (incomplete)

References to 3D movies in media:

Fan Fiction

  • Pretty Cure Heavy Metal has Sakura Cobain become a member of the 3D Movie Appreciation Club at her school halfway through the first season.

Film - Live Action

  • In The A-Team, the team is planning to break out Murdock out of a psych ward, so they send one of his friends a 3-D movie "The Greater Escape", and in the beginning a Humvee drives towards the camera, which then a REAL Humvee drives through the wall.
    Murdock: You can see these bullets in 3D! It's like we're actually being shot at!
    B.A. Baracus: We are getting shot at, you crazy-ass fool!
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan: Scooter works at a theater showing a 3D movie. Advertising for the 2011 film would later make a point of the fact that the film was not in 3D!
  • Back to the Future
    • The Fifties fad of 3D movies is referenced in the first movie. One member of Biff's gang goes around wearing 3D glasses. He's named "3D" in the credits.
    • In Back to the Future Part II, "Jaws 19" (appropriately enough) is a movie in 2015, with a holographic shark advertisement that "eats" Marty in the street. Given that the theater it's playing in is called the Holomax, one can safely assume the movie itself makes use of this technology.
  • A key scene in the 1987 TV movie Frog takes place at a 3-D movie screening.

Live-Action TV


  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's second album, 1984's "In 3-D", ends with the song "Nature Trail to Hell", promoting a family horror romp about a homicidal maniac on a Cub Scout hiking trip. The movie's in 3-D, which is played up quite a bit ("see severed heads that almost fall right in your lap/see that bloody hatchet coming right at you").
  • The Gucci Mane/Kreayshawn album Gucci Mane vs. V. Nasty Batyl's cover features Kreayshawn wearing a pair of REAL-D glasses with the lenses cut out (an aversion to most appearances of 3-D glasses being of the red/blue kind).

Newspaper Comics

  • This Garfield comic from the mid eighties.
    John: Why did we waste our evening at that movie? And why was the photography so bad?
    Garfield: And why did they hand me three pairs of 3-D glasses?


  • The Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball is set in a drive-in theater playing the movie, which is boldly advertised as IN 3D! The game itself features a holographic Gill Man in the table that periodically appears and waves to the player.


  • Nerds: A Musical Software Satire has the cast singing about how the final battle is 'even cooler when it's in 3D'. This despite the fact that it's a live stage performance.

Video Games
Some games include support for stereo rendering of the graphics. Granted, it could just be the developers showing off considering that the theoretical basis for it is pretty simple.

  • A number of DOS games supported VR headsets.
    • The BUILD editor, used by Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior (2013) supports red/blue anaglyph rendering in its 3D editing mode, although the quality is debatable.
    • Magic Carpet has this as an option. Another options uses a moving random dot stereogram to display 3D, presumably for people who like getting headaches.
    • ''Descent, likewise.
  • TrackMania Nations Forever includes an option for anaglyph rendering.
  • The original release of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter supported anaglyph rendering with at least two different colour filter pairings. May not be in the Updated Re-release.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves has the option to play certain missions in red/blue 3D; the characters even sport matching glasses during those sequences.
  • The Windows Vista/7 drivers for Nvidia's newer graphics cards include support for rendering DirectX-based 3D games in stereo for several different output devices, including red/cyan anaglyph glasses. Some older games don't work properly (Unreal and Unreal Tournament come to mind), and the anaglyph mode is useless for games which rely on colour distinctions as part of the gameplay, especially if the game also employs Real Is Brown.
  • Minecraft has an option for red/cyan anaglyph. You can also download fan-made addons that allow for differently colored glasses, stereoscopy and other 3D options.
  • While not technically a game, the DOS fractal calculation program Fractint does support red/blue anaglyph calculations of certain fractals.
  • The Nintendo 3DS has 3D effect accomplished without glasses.
    • The Nintendo Virtual Boy from 1995 was the failed first attempt at such a system. It was worn like a helmet, but very heavy and unwieldy.
  • The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner and Rad Racer, two NES games by Squaresoft, included an option for anaglyphic 3D. The Japanese disk versions of these two games were among the few games to support the field sequential Famicom 3D System, along with the Konami shooter Falsion.
  • The Sega Master System also used the field-sequential process for its SegaScope 3-D games, of which eight were produced: Blade Eagle 3-D, Line of Fire, Maze Hunter 3-D, Missile Defense 3-D, OutRun 3-D, Poseidon Wars 3-D, Space Harrier 3-D and Zaxxon 3-D.
  • Starship Titanic came with anaglyph glasses for a certain puzzle involving a starfield.
  • Sega's SubRoc-3D in 1982 was the first 3D Arcade Game, with shutter glasses attached to the cabinet. (It was ported to the Colecovision, which had no 3D system, as SubRoc.) Relatively few 3D arcade games have been made since, until the 3D-fad revival in the late-2000s. Recent examples include Sega's Let's Go Island 3D and Namco's Maximum Heat racing game.
  • In a DLC mission of L.A. Noire, one of your partners brings up the new 3D movie fad. Cole claims it won't last. For the record, Cole was correct, to an extent anyway.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • An episode of the Dennis the Menace cartoon had a movie called The Future in 3-D.
  • Family Guy: In "Friends Without Benefits", Meg goes to see Adrian Brody Doing Sit-ups, which consists of a Gag Nose reaching out toward the audience.
  • Futurama:
    • Fry and Leela attend a 3D movie in the episode "Fear of a Bot Planet". The glasses don't work on the one-eyed Leela, however.
    • "Law and Oracle" has Leela and Bender deliver to Pandora, a 3D (i.e. anaglyph) planet parodying Avatar. As another cyclops gag, Leela can't navigate anything, which pisses Bender off. After Bender throws a sandwich at the screen, a message shows up telling the viewers to put on their 3D glasses one minute ago.
  • One of Brad's friends on Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil wears anaglyphic glasses. He works at a movie theater, which uses the same glasses for their 3-D movies.
  • On The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy is seen wearing 3-D polarized glasses, claiming that he is seeing everything in 3-D from now on.
    Daffy: It's like I can almost touch you!
    Bugs: Please don't.
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • In "Popcorn Pandemonium", Rocko and Heffer end up watching a 3D movie. Heffer notes how real the glasses make everything, but Rocko, who isn't wearing the 3D glasses, notices the "special effect" is actually the theater catching on fire.
    • The 2018 reboot special features a scene where Rocko and company, who are discovering modern life in the 21st century, see a Darker and Edgier Really Really Big Man movie in 3D. Rocko actually gets hurt by RRBM's punches.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Monkey Suit", the family watches an IMAX 3D movie about nunchuks, which shows an ancient Chinese vase. Homer claims he can touch the vase, but he's really touching the bald man sitting in front of him.
    • The ending to "Adventures in Baby-Getting" has the Simpsons going to the drive-in to see a 3D re-release of The Itchy & Scratchy Movie ("Same as before, except it costs more.")
  • An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures involved a defective pair of 3D glasses; "defective" meaning that instead of making images simply appear to reach out towards the viewer, they actually drew things in towards the viewer, like a magnet. And then Furball somehow gets them glued to his face.
  • Count Floyd (from The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley) showed a 3D film titled "The Oozing Killer Slime Monster" that consists nothing more than characters moving objects toward and away from the viewer. Floyd also comments on how the 3D effect is lost to the TV audience.

Alternative Title(s): Three D Movie