Ang Lee Rejects 3D Now Because It’s ‘So Bad’ and the Whole Film Industry Is ‘Not Made’ for It: ‘The Filmmakers Are Bad. The Theaters Are Bad’

Ang Lee is moving on from 3D filmmaking after a trio of hit or miss releases: “Life of Pi” (2012), “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” (2016) and “Gemini Man” (2019). The former title was an acclaimed blockbuster that won Lee the Oscar for best director, while the latter two releases, also distributing in high-frame rate at 120 frames per second, were mostly critical misfires and big financial disappointments. Lee hasn’t made a movie since “Gemini Man.”

“I tried higher frame rate and I tried 3D,” Lee recently told IndieWire. “I tried new ways of making movies. Those pictures are really sharp. That’s a lot of pressure. Everything is difficult, so that is always a great pressure. I cannot get into detail on how to make those movies. People have not tried even one minute of that scale. I did two feature films. That’s great pressure. Of course, that brought in economic pressure, studio pressures, doing something nobody really knows. That’s a lot of pressure. It’s quite complicated [in ways] that audiences don’t see.”

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“In general, not only my two movies, 3D in general … [is] so bad,” he continued. “The filmmakers are bad. The theaters are bad. The whole ecosystem is bad. It’s not made for [3D]. I refuse to complain, to blame it on the medium … it’s the audience, and the industry, [who] were not prepared.”

Lee cited movie theaters’ inability to properly project 3D filmmaking as one reason he’s retreating from it for his next movie, which he hopes is a Bruce Lee biopic.

“The theaters are stingy. It’s really dim, you can’t really see it. It’s flickering, and the 3D,” Lee said. “People do a poor job, [it] gives you a headache, it’s purely bad. You can’t blame the audience for not liking it because it’s bad. And they’re asked to pay more money. When it gets good, people like it. It’s simple. 3D is different than 2D. Your mind works differently. You cannot compare the two. One is sophisticated and the other is like a baby. That’s why I developed new projectors. It’s four times brighter. It’s a new language a filmmaker has to pick up, audience has to get used to it, it just takes time.”

He continued, “There are bad filmmakers, it’s that simple. Audiences only see what they see. It’s dark, and they get a headache. Filmmakers don’t know what they’re doing with the images. It’s just the beginning. [But] the 3D is just too hard. I’ll go back to the regular way, the old way of making movies.”

In an interview with Variety, Lee teased the upcoming Bruce Lee biopic. The project is going to star the director’s son, Mason Lee, as the martial arts and movie icon.

“Neither of us are getting any younger. So I hope I get to make this movie soon,” the filmmaker said.

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