The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - TIMEOUT - Myles Sin­na­mon

On May 28, 1953, the 3D movie craze ar­rived in Bris­bane with the screen­ing of Hol­ly­wood mo­tion pic­ture Bwana Devil at the St James theatre. Bris­bane crit­ics greeted this new gim­mick with mixed re­views. A re­porter from The Couri­er­Mail was thrilled by the screen­ing: “Yes­ter­day I was pawed at by li­ons, nearly em­braced by a screen siren and nar­rowly missed be­ing im­paled on a spear.” A film critic for the same news­pa­per was less en­am­oured: “For the first 10 min­utes this ef­fect is star tling, novel; but for the next 80 min­utes it is just sheer eye-strain.”

Some pre­dicted that 3D movies (af­fec­tion­ately re­ferred to as “Deepies” ) would re­place con­ven­tional films. This pre­sented a dilemma for theatre own­ers: would the costly equip­ment re­quired to screen the new films and re­fit­ting their cine­mas be a good in­vest­ment?

Dur­ing 1953 and 1954, sev­eral the­atres around Queens­land chose to em­brace the new tech­nol­ogy. In Septem­ber 1953, Rock­hamp­ton be­came the only pro­vin­cial theatre in Australia equipped to project 3D films, and the first to screen a 3D film out­side of a cap­i­tal city. The­atres in other cities fol­lowed suit, in­clud­ing the Civic in Townsville, the Palace in Cairns and the Rialto in Ip­swich. In April 1954, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Warner Bros said that 3D “seemed to have more ap­peal in Queens­land than in south­ern states”.

Only two months later, in June 1954, The Sun­day Mail re­ported: “Deepies are dead – Hol­ly­wood junks 3D at vast cost”. For the next few decades the third di­men­sion was ig­nored, bar a small resur­gence in the 1980s. It wasn’t un­til the 2000s that 3D made its way back into main­stream films.

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