'3-D' in movies no longer just a gimmick

The term "3-D movie" used to carry certain connotations. There were thrills, sure, but also headaches, dizziness and a whiff of gimmicky desperation ("Amityville 3-D").

Nowadays, studios shoot their biggest-ticket items in 3-D, from DreamWorks Animation's "Monsters vs. Aliens," which comes out Friday, to "Titanic" director James Cameron's much-anticipated holiday 2009 sci-fi movie "Avatar."

"Monsters vs. Aliens," in which Reese Witherspoon voices the role of a Modesto woman transformed via meteorite into the 49-foot-tall-and-some-change Ginormica, seems a natural as the first film originated in 3-D from DreamWorks Animation ("Shrek").

The movie is "an homage to the old B-movies – the movies that started 3-D in the first place," said "Monsters vs. Aliens" co-director Conrad Vernon.

"Monsters vs. Aliens" will be released in a two-dimensional format as well, but it will likely draw more interest in 3-D theaters, just as the recent stop-motion animated film "Coraline," also a dual release, has done since coming out in early February.

"Home theaters have gotten so nice, with HD and surround sound, that when people go out to a movie theater they are looking for something they can't get in their home," said Doug Link, director of Sacramento's Esquire Imax Theatre, which opens "Monsters vs. Aliens" on Friday. "3-D lends itself to taking people to that place."

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