While the 3D brand has been tarnished recently with duds such as Drive Angry (which is going straight to DVD in Australia), Sanctum and Mars Needs Moms, European filmmakers are embracing the format with gusto.
Nearly every major European market is making films in the third dimension spanning a wide range of genres from animation and documentaries to horror and film noir.
Sweden, Denmark and Holland are among the countries that have recently embarked on their first 3D productions.
In January, PricewaterhouseCoopers said the production of 3D films will increase in Europe, China, India and Japan as cinema operators increasingly upgrade to digital presentation and it forecast 15 per cent of movies will have a 3D version by 2015.
The first Swedish 3D film is Ella Lemhagen's The Crown Jewels, the saga of a young girl accused of being linked to a murder who tells the police what's described as “fantastic, unbelievable and yet totally true story.” It's also being shot as a 3x60min TV series for SVT.
Holland's maiden 3D production is Nova Zembla, which recounts a failed attempt by Dutch cartographer and Captain William Barents (played by Derek de Lint) to find a northern passage from Norway to China and the Indies in 1596. It will be directed by Reinout Oerlemans, chief executive of production and distribution company Eyeworks.
Denmark's entry is Jørgen Lerdam's The Olsen Gang Gets Polished (pictured), the first feature-length animated movie after a string of live action films about a trio of small-time crooks who plan to steal Hans Christian Andersen's original quill from the Danish Export Museum.
German director Wim Wenders' Pina is billed as the first 3D art feature produced in Europe. It's dedicated to Pina Bausch, the German dancer-choreographer who died in June 30, 2009, just days before filming began.
An admirer and friend of Bausch, Wenders had long wanted to make a film about her but waited until 3D technology enabled him to capture the movement and emotional expressiveness of the choreographer's Tanztheatre (“dance theatre”) by placing cameras in between the dancers.
“We finally felt ready to make this film with 3D, as it allowed my cameras to overcome that wall that stood between me and the dancers, and it opened a new realm close to their own physicality, which cameras could never capture before,” Wenders told the blog Lost in the multiplex. The doco opens here in July.
British director Gareth Maxwell Roberts' The Mortician 3D is among the first films to apply the format to film noir, the tale of a man who's emotionally numbed by the decay and corruption of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Method Man plays The Mortician, with Edward Furlong as his boss, Dash Mihok as a gangster and Cruz Santiago as a scared kid.
Polish/Chinese co-production The Flying Machine combines 3D live action and stop motion animation to tell the story of a family that takes to the skies in an amazing flying machine. It's inspired by the music of Chopin which will be performed by Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who also stars along with Heather Graham.