Perspective, presentations, the movie business and Up 3D

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Image by ZakVTA via Flickr

I never thought I’d spend $40 for admission on my family of 3 for a movie and feel like I got a good deal, but that’s exactly what happened this past weekend when we saw Disney/Pixar’s latest, Up, at my local theater in 3D.   It wasn’t because of the 3D effects, although were impressive and vividly clear in the digital theater my familiy went to, but because of the very moving story.

If you just look at the trailer, this looks like it’ll be a movie about a cranky old man who ties balloons to his house.  Once you understand his perspective and realize why he became so cranky, the story takes on a surprising depth and validates why you should take the time to understand why someone is behaving the way they are in any of your relationships whether they be business or personal.  Experiencing this movie also slammed home the point about how important it is to get your audience interested at the beginning of any presentation and made me ponder on the business model movies seem to be inching towards.

As a starting point, here’s the trailer for Up:

Cranky old man ties balloons to his house and floats away with a stow-away he didn’t count on. If I didn’t live with a 7 year old, this was not enough to get me to go to the theater despite Pixar’s excellent track record with quality story telling.  You can predict the stow-away annoying the man in a variety of situations as they figure out how to get unstuck from one another.

At least, that’s what I thought.

The first 10 minutes of the film gives you the cranky old man’s backstory, giving a brief history of his life that explains how he got the the point seen in the trailer.  I won’t spoil it here and I admit to becoming more sentimental with age, I was brought to tears by this introduction to this character’s life (as was my wife).  Once I understood why he was the way he was, I understood his actions a lot better.  Challenging yourself to do the same with people you aren’t getting along with at work reaps similar benefits of understanding.

So, 10 minutes in and I was completely invested in this story I previously had no interest in.  Using good presentation techniques along the lines of “What is this and why is it important?”, the movie presented a path for me to change my context and care about what I was seeing.  It very much reminded me of Walt Disney’s EPCOT presentation in that way, although utilizing emotion instead of financial benefit as the “hook”.

Finally, I came away from watching this movie thinking about how that business model is changing.  I saw Up in digital 3D at a theater with stadium seating, which was quite a bit different from seeing Star Wars at the Imperial Valley Drive-In with a single speaker  hung on the car window during the summer of 1977.  Movie theaters have a much higher bar to get over than they used to given the competition of home theaters with their surround sound and online access to Netflix streaming.

Unlike Bolt 3D, Up seemed to be produced with a 3D presentation in mind (hence the movie poster logo) that was gracefully degraded for 2D viewing.   I also saw, for the first time for me, trailiers in 3D.  At first I thought this was cool, but then I realized that I’m probaly not going to be willing to pay that same premium for a 3D presentation of a guinea pig spy film, but that’s just me.

Will special effects films for the sake of special effects, but with unengaging story (hello, Star Wars prequels) keep people coming back for $13 seats and $5 popcorn?  That seems to be the multi-billion dollar question for the movie industry.

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