July 30, 2013

hollywood boulevard

Roger Corman’s career would be impossible today. There is no more infrastructure for low-budget genre experimentation, as filmmakers must increasingly rely on crowd-funding to get their modest projects off the ground (even Spike Lee took that route last week), with little hope of distribution. The only outfit as prolific as Corman’s New World Pictures is The Asylum, the mock-busters behind Sharknado, except their model doesn’t encourage the young but re-animates the old for a quick buck. Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix shares Corman’s huckster spirit and eye for talent, but only has the funds to make 2-3 films a year (New World could crank out 10). And while there is plenty of creativity on display in direct-to-video action movies (like Jesse V. Johnson and Isaac Florentine), they are totally isolated from Hollywood at-large, never graduating to larger productions like Corman alumni Martin Scorsese and Joe Dante. What we are robbed of from this lack is gonzo oddities like Dante and Allan Arkush’s Hollywood Boulevard (1976), a no-budget satire of an exploitation film production. Streaming on Netflix (cropped from 1.85 to 1.33, sadly), it’s a loving take-down of Corman’s shoestring flicks “shamelessly loaded with sex and violence”, per the tagline.


“This doesn’t have a lot of the conventional virtues of a movie.” -Joe Dante on Hollywood Boulevard

Joe Dante and Allan Arkush were trailer editors for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures in the early 70s, and eager to direct. Together with friend and producer Jon Davison, they approached Corman about helming their first feature. Davison bet Corman that they could make the cheapest film in New World history. Corman gave them 10 days and $60,000 ($246,225 in today’s dollars) to shoot Hollywood Boulevard. Another catch was that Corman still needed them to cut the trailers, so Dante recalled that they agreed to “make the movie in the daytime, if we did the trailers at night.” Realizing they did not have the cash for the kind of action scenes a Corman feature required, they came up with the idea to make it about a B-movie Studio, and re-purpose footage from old New World titles. As trailer cutters, they were familiar with every last crash and fireball in the studio’s archive. Dante and Davison were already veteran re-purposers, having edited together the monstrous 7-hour collage The Movie Orgy (1968) out of scarps of B-movies, commercial outtakes, and public access TV (I wrote about this masterpiece here). To cut down on shooting time Dante and Arkush would prepare separate set-ups simultaneously. When Dante shouted “cut” on one scene, Arkush would yell “action!” on another. It’s one of the rare films in which the feature acts as a documentary of its own production, as the characters in the film deal with the same budget deficits  as it’s creators. Dante referred to it as a “home movie”.


The only film set Dante had been on was Death Race 2000 (1975), so he hired the two actors he met there, Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel. They play bitchy  actress Mary McQueen and delusional director Erich Von Leppe, respectively, the star employees of Miracle Studios (slogan: “If it’s a good picture, it’s a miracle!”). Woronov is all legs and bile, while Bartel deploys his plummy baritone to absurdities like his thematic breakdown of Atomic War Brides: “What we’re trying to do here is combine the legend of Romeo and Juliet with high speed car action and a sincere plea for international atomic controls in our time.”


McQueen’s female co-stars have been dying off, which opens the door for Candy Wednesday (Candice Rialson), just off the bus and ready for work – any work. She is aided by huckster agent Walter Paisley, played with sleazy screwball brio by future Dante-axiom Dick Miller. She is quickly promoted from stunt woman to actress, landing a part in the Machete Maidens of Mora Tau, a Polynesian naked women-with-guns farrago that’s a take-off on The Big Doll House (1971). When Candy watches her debut at the local drive-in with Walter and her screenwriter boyfriend, she has to sit through New World features The Terror (1963, also with Dick Miller) and Battle Beyond the Sun (1962), which are skewered with Mystery Science Theater relish. In the most terrifying moment in the movie, Candy is so enraged by the film, and the inclusion of a rape scene, that she storms into the projection booth, demanding the film be stopped. Then the projectionist attacks her, implying that the audience’s thirst for sex and violence is not so innocent.


The entire film is a blunt attack on Hollywood heartlessness, especially about its abuses of women, from the cattle call of actresses for a nude scene to the total indifference Von Leppe displays towards deaths on his productions. There’s always another girl to replace them, as Candy shortly learns. Narrative is incidental to Hollywood Boulevard, but it eventually shifts from backstage black comedy into satiric slasher flick, with plot details borrowed from the Bela Lugosi vehicle The Death Kiss (1932). Miracle Pictures makes bad movies, but their lives become one, as the body count mounts due to a robed killer straight out of their prop room. In the delirious finale, the murdereress is disrobed and crushed by the Hollywood sign, a blunt metaphor (and weapon) for the town’s attitude towards women.

With the demise of double-bills and the death of drive-ins, the market for cheap programmers has dried up, whether inspired like Hollywood Boulevard or rote like the films it burlesques. But without this cheap testing ground filmmakers don’t have the luxury of making mistakes like their predecessors – not when it’s impossible for the most successful of directors to make more than one film every couple of years. Perhaps the growth of VOD will create more demand for product that someone like Fessenden can exploit, but it doesn’t seem likely.  Even Dante is finding it hard to make features these days. If his next film ends up on Kickstarter, don’t be surprised, but at least donate.


November 8, 2011

rebel highway

In one of the stranger experiments in cable television history, Showtime’s 1994 Rebel Highway series commissioned ten filmmakers to remake a 1950s exploitation movie. It was the brainchild of Lou Arkoff (the son of American International Pictures founder Samuel Z. Arkoff) and Debra Hill (producer of Halloween). They gave directors $ 1.3 million and a 12 day shooting schedule, to roughly approximate the original shooting conditions (modified for inflation). Unlike the ’50s cheapies, though, they were given final cut, and could choose their own screenwriter, editor and director of photography. This proved irresistible to the (mostly) impressive list of talents who signed on: Robert Rodriguez (Machete), John McNaughton (Wild Things), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary), Allan Arkush (Rock ‘N’ Roll High School), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Jonathan Kaplan (The Accused), John Milius (Conan the Barbarian), William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat) and Uli Edel (The Baader Meinhof Complex).

All of the filmmakers, except for Rodriguez, were old enough to have lived through the era of the film they remade, engaging the aesthetics and politics of the originals in strikingly different ways, alternating between affection and parody often in the same film. Since its original airing, the series has completely disappeared from cultural memory, but Netflix Watch Instantly, that haphazard repository of moving image detritus, is now streaming every entry, and it’s well worth sampling the project’s eccentric film-historical time travel. Below, some thoughts on my favorites.

Joe Dante’s Runaway Daughters, an adaptation of Edward L. Cahn’s 1956 AIP production, is one of the few entries to completely stand on its own as a feature. It is a companion piece to Matinee, Dante’s loving evocation of a 1950s movie-huckster, modeled on William Castle, that he made the previous year. Both films were written by Charlie Haas, and share a tone of gentle satire, about the paranoia brought on by the threat of nuclear war and the space race, respectively. Runaway Daughters follows three high school girlfriends who chase down the no-good boy who loved and left.  Working class Holly (Mary Nicholson) thinks she’s pregnant, and is convinced by rich girl Angie (Julie Bowen from Modern Family) and middle-class Laura (Jenny Lewis, who later formed indie-rock band Rilo Kiley) to track the dog down. So they steal a car and hit the road, intercepting the cad before he signs up for the Navy.

Dante opens the film with an irony-drenched  found footage montage set to “Let the Good Times Roll”, from a jubilant Eisenhower and Nixon, to the NAACP hung in effigy, and closing with the repressed sexual longings of I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), the title character getting hairy while watching a stretching gymnast. The longing on-screen enters the narrative, as the trio of not-so-repressed girls is watching Werewolf at a drive-in, necking with impunity and ignoring the metaphors on screen. One of the neckees is Paul Rudd in one of his earliest roles, playing Angie’s bad boy squeeze, Jimmy Rusoff (named after the original screenwriter, Lou Rusoff). Dante gifts Rudd with the catch phrase from Speed Crazy (1959, a major part of Dante’s mash-up Movie Orgy (’68)), “Don’t crowd me!”, which Rudd dishes with appropriate petulance to his greasy gearhead Dad (played against type by Fabian, a late ’50s teen idol).

From this opening scene, it’s clear the girls are more mature than the films representing them, although the Red Menace makes them shaky just like everyone else. Bob (Chris Young) gets in Holly’s pants by waxing poetic over Sputnik, which has just launched into space. For the rest of the movie, though, the phalluses fail. On their journey, the girls run into drunk cops and a gang of flaccid anti-commies, the only sympathetic voice brought by an uncredited cameo from Cathy Moriarty. The lone competent male is played by Dante-axiom Dick Miller, a crusty private detective with a reflexive disdain of the young and their newfangled perversions. He asks the girls’ parents if they ask their kids “about the strange night world of twisted kicks, of weird rituals and equipment? Of whips and chains and rubber balls and dildos and handcuffs?” In this world, it is clear the ladies have to take the world into their own hands, and so they do.


Robert Rodriguez’s Roadracers (adapted from the immortal Arthur Swerdloff version of 1959) lacks any of the historical identifiers of Runaway Daughters, taking place completely in Hollywoodland. The most stylized entry in the series, Rodriguez has no interest in interrogating the period, only in refining his style, which at this point was still potently kinetic, coming right after El Mariachi. It stars David Arquette as cynical greaser Dude (in an appropriately mannered performance), who cruises around town with his girl Donna (Salma Hayek) and his fidgety buddy Nixer (John Hawkes). The overriding mood is provided by Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which is playing at the local cinema, and which Nixer returns to ritualistically. Dude doesn’t have to see it to know his town has been co-opted by evil. He’s chased by a sadistic cop (William Sadler) and his moderately sadistic son (Jason Wiles). Rodriguez institutes a rhythmic editing style, set up in the opening when he intercuts a rockabilly band and a car chasematching the downbeat with screeching turns. This tempo is maintained throughout, accessorized by swaggering slow-motion and low-angle anti-hero close-ups. As Dude grows more certain of the town’s rot, the images get more delirious and the action more violent, ending in a farrago of gleeful self-annihilation.


The most jaw-dropping part of the series is provided by the pen of Sam Fuller, who with his wife Christa provided the script for Girls in Prison, which was directed by John McNaughton (adapted from the 1956 Edward L. Cahn film). An overheated women-in-chains movie, it is graced by an opening of transcendent pulp paranoia. It  sets up the back-stories of the eponymous girls, in three bloody tales: a red-baiting newscaster gets bludgeoned to death with a hammer; a budding screenwriter (Ione Skye) mounts an Off-Broadway play, “The Witch Hunt”, that drives her father insane and leads her to savage a bigot with a broken bottle; and a budding country star (Missy Crider) is framed for the brutal stabbing of a abusive producer. Filmed with canted angles and looming shadows, it’s a wild and terrifying hallucination of a society spiked with a insatiable need for vengeance. It is impossible for the rest of the film to live up to this fever dream, but it goes through the rest of dramatic motions with enough pep and smarminess (including a deliciously vampy turn from Anne Heche) to make it a worthwhile sit.


Shake, Rattle and Rock is a joyful and reflective evocation of 50s rock musicals, this one a remake of the ’56 Edward L. Cahn movie about a town that tries to ban Rock ‘n’ Roll (for more on Cahn, check out Dave Kehr’s profile in a forthcoming Film Comment).  Directed by Allan Arkush in bright pastels and a wall-to-wall soundtrack of pop hits (from Fats Domino to Eddie Cochran), it is the most culturally precise movie in the series, along with Runaway Daughters. Renee Zellweger takes the lead as the rock aficionado whose parents just don’t understand. She first appears as a bouncing blur, singing along to Little Richard’s “The Girl Can’t Help It” (also used in the great Frank Tashlin film of the same name) in her bedroom, her addiction not outed to her parents until she appears dancing again on a local American Bandstand-type TV show, hosted by Danny Klay (Howie Mandel). Once Zellweger’s mom (Nora Dunn) sees this horrible gyrating, she gathers her sewing circle (including P.J. Soles from Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and a wonderfully bitchy Mary Woronov), to shut down the show and ban the music. There is also a subplot involving a black acapella group, “The Sirens”, who are trying to break through the town’s color barrier and hit it big, and who Zellweger teams up with to protect the town from her mom’s crew.

Arkush elicits effortlessly appealing performance from Zellweger, a perky ball of cashmere with a fierce sense of her personal rights. The director also has a light, and very funny, ironic touch in presenting the parents’ retrograde attitudes, but intimates that these comical buffoons are not a plot point to be overcome but the avatars of an entire culture. Instead of the expected ending of a bridged age-gap, it concludes on a note of muted despair, with freedom reluctantly deferred. It is unexpectedly the most political film of the series, robbing its characters of the young people’s bill-of-rights stated by Florine in Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme: “To be twenty years old, to be right, to keep hope, to be right when your government is wrong, to learn to see before learning to read.” For Zellweger, there is nothing to see and nothing to read, her only hope an escape to parts unknown.

For more information, please read Jonathan Rosenbaum’s review of the series, in which he compares it to the French one produced by Arte, Tous les garcons et les filles de leur age.


October 25, 2011

the movie orgy

For nine years running, MoMA’s To Save and Project international festival of film preservation has showcased the latest celluloid surgery jobs by archives the world over. It’s the one place where film stock is still a fetish, each new print ogled with the entitled leer of a sozzled Miss Universe judge. So I was sent to my oft-used fainting couch when it was announced that a digital restoration would open this year’s fest (which runs through Nov. 25th).   This prestigious pole-position was granted to Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy (1968), a delirious mash-up of pop culture detritus, from psychotic b-movies to baffling Bufferin commercials.

Dante and Jon Davison edited the entire feature by hand, splicing in new scenes when intriguing material passed their way. Eventually the project ballooned to 7 hours, but with its broad humor, broads, and critique of the military-industrial complex, it toured college campuses under a Schlitz beer sponsorship. By the end of its run the print had more stitches than Frankenstein’s monster, without the salve of Karloff’s soulful stare. It would be unlikely to survive another trip through a projector. So Dante shoved the benighted thing through a film-to-tape transfer, and after some screenings on the West coast has finally brought his beast to the East. Now at a svelte 4 1/2 hours, it’s a marvel of gonzo editing. It contains an actual narrative, collapsing the apocalypses  of a bunch of sci-fi/teen rebel/horror cheapies into one mega-Armageddon, while finding time for mini-comedies and grace(less)-notes in between.

For this main narrative, I spotted the following titles: Speed Crazy (1959), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), Teenagers From Outer Space (1959), College Confidential (1960), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956), and Beginning of the End (1957). There are many more I couldn’t identify, but these images of nuclear paranoia are spread throughout, until Dante and Davison edit them together in a blaze of melodramatic parallel editing that would make D.W.  Griffith a little nauseous.

W.C. Fields, George Burns and Groucho Marx act as a bemused chorus during the chaos, used in reaction shots in response to whatever absurd travail Dante places before them (maybe Peter Graves gunning down locusts or Andy Devine singing “Jesus Loves You” with a cat and a gerbil). It’s the Kuleshov effect used for juvenile laughs, which I fully endorse. Dante uses this gag in other forms, once in an Eisenstinian montage, cutting from a dog training short to one for the Marines, or equally bluntly, from kids setting up a projector to a striptease. Dante is in full control of the editing-as-joke mechanism, and he wrings some hilarious bits out of it. Another routine worked through multiple variations is condensing an entire feature into a descriptive one-shot. In a B-dog-movie called (something like) “Rusty Comes Home”, he shows one scene of a dog running to a boy. “You came back!”.  Cut to “The End” credit.

Then there are the insane commercials, including a mind-melting series from Bufferin, in which a military recruiter sends a kid to war and a landlord evicts an elderly couple. Both use the pill to ease their guilty consciences. In the latter a building implodes behind the landlord as he pops his aspirin. These play more like parody than ad copy. The true star of Dante’s opus though, is Brett Halsey, the star of Speed Crazy (1959). Under the sensitively absent direction of William Hole, Jr., Halsey furrows his brow and strangles out his motto, “Don’t crowd me!”, thousands of times. Whether he’s chatting up a gum-smacking dame (in which crowding would seem to be the point) or stabbing a square authority figure, he repeats the phrase incessantly, as if Halsey forgot the rest of his lines. But he had already appeared in 20 movies, the absurdity of his repetition a likely result of compressed shooting times and a thin script. By the end, the audience was erupting in scattered cheers whenever Halsey appeared on-screen, as I would like to do for this entire low-brow masterpiece. Because of its endless copyright infringement, The Movie Orgy will never appear on home video, so rush to see it if it ever plays near you.


The other highlight of the festival for me was Edward L. Cahn’s Afraid to Talk (1932), a brutally despairing corruption drama, based on the play Merry-Go-Round by Albert Maltz and George Sklar. Made during the depths of the Great Depression, it exhibits a totalizing distrust of authority, with Chicago city officials displayed as more comprehensively criminal than the gangsters they are ostensibly supposed to pursue. Jig Skelli (Edward Arnold) kills kingpin Jake Stranskey (Robert Warwick) to take over his racket. When he’s rousted for the crime, he simply flashes Stranskey’s records, which implicate every major  Chicago official as on the take, from the DA’s office to the Mayor’s. Needing a scapegoat, the cops pin the murder on bell boy Eddie Martin (Eric Linden), almost beating him to death to force a confession.

Cahn and DP Karl Freund (Metropolis) visualize the back-scratching corruption of the government through shifting group shots. At police chief Frank Hyers’ (Ian Maclaren) well-appointed pad, the top officials often gather around the table to pop champagne and talk jubilantly of their double dealings. Hyers is framed to his left by the Mayor (a red-faced Berton Churchill) and Assistant DA Wade (Louis Calhern). On the right District Attorney Anderson (Tully Marshall) and a rotating cast of underlings. They are framed in long shot, with a receding hallway behind them. Down that hallway comes an indistinguishable mass of Fedora’d newspapermen, walking in lockstep, resigned to regurgitate the party line.

This grouping of power is contrasted to configurations of weakness, specifically in the initial interrogation of Eddie, who is the point of a triangle between Wade and Anderson. Later in this sequence Eddie’s wife Peggy (Sidney Fox) is subjected to an intensely close two-shot, in which Wade leans over her prone body as she rests her head in her hands. These different figural arrangements reach a climax in Eddie’s second interrogation, when his confession needs to be forced. There the cops, after flicking the overhead lamp to tick-tock over their heads, converge to make an airtight boundary around him, the image just one hulking mass of black wool suit. In this shot all of Eddie’s subjectivity is erased, to be halfway restored in the still-pessimistic conclusion. The governmental pack is thinned out, but the structures that allowed for Eddie’s blotting out are still firmly in place, as the news ticker trumpets another mission accomplished.


October 19, 2010


Jackass 3D had a gigantic opening weekend, bringing in $50 million, almost twice as much as its predecessor. Two weeks previously I watched Joe Dante’s The Hole 3D at the New York Film Festival, which is still without a distributor. The bump in the Jackass money is not only attributable to the 3D premium pricing, it attracted more admissions than its first two entries as well, as Ben Fritz reported in the L.A. Times.  Regardless of the flak the technology receives from critics like Roger Ebert, it draws crowds, and thus will be a part of the cinematic landscape for some time to come. And while muddy-looking 3D conversions will surely mar theaters in the future, there are plenty of productions that are producing fascinating depth effects with the new technology.

Let’s start with Jackass 3D and The Hole. I enjoyed both films, although they approached the technology from vastly differing positions. Jackass, a non-narrative parade of scatalogical slapstick, is a return to early silent filmmaking and the “cinema of attractions” that Tom Gunning identified. Gunning:

Rather than early approximations of the later practices of the style of classical film narration, aspects of early cinema are best understood if a purpose other than storytelling is factored in. Cinema as an attraction is that other purpose. By its reference to the curiosity-arousing devices of the fairground, the term denoted early cinema’s fascination with novelty and its foregrounding of the act of display.

All of Jackass 3D is the act of display pushed to its perverse limit, vaudeville huckster versions of Marina Abramovic. Both work at exposing the limits of our bodies, Jackass through shots to the groin, Abramovic through exchanged slaps with her lover, among endless other examples. I tend to think her humor and the Jackass crew’s intelligence are both underrated. In another echo, Abromovich had a smashingly successful retrospective at MoMA this year, which is where Jackass 3D held its premiere. MoMA curator Josh Siegel says that Johnny Knoxville and company’s work is, “merely the climax — or the lowest depths, if you prefer — of a tradition that dates back to 1895, when the Lumière brothers drenched a poor sap with a garden hose and filmed it.” (from Dennis Lim’s primer in the NY Times). My favorite bits involved fun with a harrier jet’s exhaust and a delightfully revolting stunt involving a sweat cocktail.

3D is the shiniest new weapon in their toolbox, and so they gleefully push the technology to purely presentational ends. Gunning again, “The attraction directly addresses the spectator, acknowledging the viewer’s presence and seeking to quickly satisfy a curiosity.” 3D is another delivery system in satisfying this curiosity, of how a tooth could be pulled by a Lamborghini, or what a “poop cocktail supreme” could possibly entail. For most of the film, the technology is cheaply utilized. The crew used their normal prosumer cameras for their mixture of planned/improvised shenanigans. Then it was processed into 3D in post. For these sections, it is just a gimmick. However, in the beginning and closing minutes there are sequences filmed stereoscopically in super slow motion with Phantom HD Gold Cameras. As the men are knocked down by dildos and other implements, their skin ripples like plasticene waves, and the split-second fear before the blows are noticeable in these aging stunt-men’s eyes.

The Hole is another story, a family-oriented horror movie that was entirely filmed in stereoscopic 3D, using the Dolby process. Joe Dante is a student of the form, having watched almost every 3D film ever made during the previous boom in the 1950s and 60s (his lifetime of research can be watched at his fiendishly entertaining site Trailers From Hell). The film’s title implies physical depth, and Dante takes advantage of the narrative device at every turn. The top-lining photo gives an impression of his work here, with constant use of entrances and exits, with the kids grouped and choreographed so there is constant motion back and forth from background to foreground. The film is an eyeful. In the Q&A following the screening at the NYFF, Dante said he thought the Dolby process was too dark, preferring the RealD system which most big-budget releases use. But RealD needs a special silver screen to be projected on, and for a low-budget film in which theater space would at a minimum, the Dolby process was necessary, as it can be projected onto regular screens.

Dante also discussed 3D dos and dont’s including avoiding cuts on quick motion, because the level of eyestrain involved. The film flew along, a combination of classic Dantaen elements like a suffocating suburbia, coming-of-age subtexts, a Dick Miller sighting, and a rich intertextual conversation with film history. The major touchstone here seems to be German Expressionism, from the hat tip to Hands of Orlac in the cheekily named “Gloves of Orlac” factory, to the vertiginous, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari inspired set design in the finale.

It’s unbelievable that the film, about kids who discover a portal into their own subconscious in their basement, has no distributor. It’s wildly entertaining and reliably scary (a harlequin puppet had my wife gripping my arm), and contains some of the most imaginative uses of 3D that I’ve seen all year.

The other great 3D film this year, is, believe it or not, Resident Evil: Afterlife. I am an admirer of Paul W.S. Anderson’s genre chops (I did an overview of his career for IFC News), and I think it’s his best film. There is a superb use of depth effects throughout. From the start it was shot in 3D, with Anderson saying that, “I wrote things into this script that I knew would work well in 3D, like lots of sets with depth-like tunnels, elevator shafts, and big wide landscapes.” That alone gives him more awareness  of how to shoot in depth than the botched 3D conversions on Piranha 3D (which I enjoyed regardless) and Clash of the Titans (read this interview with James Cameron for some interesting notes about that conversion). Along with the simple, effective use of locations, there is a sense of choreography that utilized 3D to its fullest extent. In the opening sequence, clones of Milla Jovovich are fighting their way through an underground lab, making their way to the villain. As he barks orders in the foreground, in the extreme background the brawling Jovoviches tear their way through a lower floor, creeping their way higher. Anderson dispenses with parallel editing, marking her progress by cutting back and forth, and presents it in one economical and incredibly tense 3D image. It’s a marvel of narrative economy and speaks to the ingenuity possible with the technology.

Although to be honest, the finest 3D film I saw this year was still Raoul Walsh’s Gun Fury, from 1953. Nothing has effected me more than the simple use of dust kicking up in the foreground as Rock Hudson plots his revenge behind it. Maybe such simple pleasures would come back to the current 3D wave if The Hole found some success, and encouraged more mid-budgeted, modest 3D productions to get made. Here’s hoping.