I've been wanting to take Nina to the cinema even as far back as when she was just a twinkle in my eye, but it's difficult to find films that are age appropriate for a 3½ year old, it takes so little to scare her, and so I'd neither wanted to take her to a film I didn't know, or have to sit through a load of dross several times over before finding something suitably innocuous. Plus I was a little worried about the experience (she's a bit afraid of the dark) so having something familiar was beneficial in numerous ways.
Given all this, my wife and I thought for a while that it might be better not for her first trip to the cinema to be for a 3D film. After all going from that to a 2D film might seem a bit of a comedown. And then it dawned on me - perhaps because of the success of Avatar - that most, if not all, of films she sees in theatres might be in 3D. After all, it was a long, long time until I saw a black and white film in a theatre. I find that a weird thought. I guess most film generation has such new technological innovations. First it was moving pictures, then talkies, then colour, now 3D.
It did however highlight a number of ways in which the way the new technology has yet to bed down. Since Toy Story was made long before 3D it's not so much a 3D film as a 2D film converted to 3D. The contrast between it and the trailer for the 3D Alice in Wonderland was striking. In just a couple of minutes the trailer felt the need to throw various objects at the audience, which did look pretty cool, but got dull pretty quickly. It suggests that the new technology is yet to fully find it's feet. Things coming out of the screen at you will appeal for a while, but people will tire of the gimmick. I suspect that as use of the technology matures we will see less flying out at the audience and more subtlety.
This was also highlighted by the way Toy Story 2 has similarly showy use of technology. Early in the film we are introduced to a real dog. The dog has little role in the plot, and so his inclusion comes across (with hindsight at least) as similarly showy. "Look what we can do with CGI now" etc.
The other thing that struck me is that theatres need to do a better job with the product. The cinema we went to only had one size of glasses, which were quite unsuitable for a 3½ year-old, and as a result Nina watched the second half of the film in blurry 2D (and didn't seem to mind). For me I found the middle of the screen OK, but that the edges were a little odd. These are basic and fairly easy problems to correct - particularly compared to the changes that were required for the introduction of talkies - so they need to be made soon. The pictures might look impressive, but people are going to be put off if the glasses are too small, or too heavy, or only fit average sized people. The 3D glasses industry must have made a huge profit last year. They need to reinvest, and theatre owners need to put the pressure on to ensure that they don't erode this new competitive advantage.