The 3-D movie trend is facing a litmus test right here, right now.
A cottage industry of sorts has grown up around the resurgence in 3-D films. It's all RealD (NYSE: RLD ) does; Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) have developed their own 3-D projection systems; and what would the larger-than-life IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX ) experience be in just two flat dimensions? So there's plenty of money riding on those 3-D-boosted ticket prices these days.
The trial by fire that will show us exactly how investable 3-D tech might be comes courtesy of DreamWorks Animation SKG (Nasdaq: DWA ) . Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots opens on Friday in a flurry of swashbuckling, milk-sipping 3-D action.
The film itself isn't particularly interesting to us investors. Disney's Cars 2 and DreamWorks' own Kung Fu Panda 2 were far more buzzworthy ahead of their releases, at least according to polls by Box Office Mojo. Neither film lived up to expectations. Only 4% of polled film buffs called Boots the most anticipated cartoon of 2011.
From that perspective, we shouldn't expect a huge opening week. The story doesn't have the legs to carry Boots to much of a follow-up week, either -- it's just another paint-by-numbers revenge yarn with all the desperate pop-culture reaches we've come to expect from DreamWorks. No big deal at all.
But if you go, make sure to catch this movie in 3-D. You see, the whole thing was planned and shot from that perspective, and would lose a great deal of its visual impact without it. In fact, it's less of a movie and more of an experiment in 3-D cinematography.
Puss in Boots hits you over the head with 3-D effects from Scene One and never lets up. If there's any breath left in this title by weeks two or three, it will be because word of the amazing 3-D work is spreading -- and because consumers see this as a good reason to buy a ticket. That might not be the case at all.
So keep an eye on this movie's lasting power if you're at all interested in RealD, IMAX, or any other player in the 3-D space. Add them to your Foolish watchlist -- it'll make things easier for you. Should it sink like a stone in the second week, you'll know that moviegoers just don't care about those fancy effects.
And even if 3-D turns out to be a fad, you can still make money by investing in silver-screen technology. Read a powerful report and see why our top analysts think that the stock could double or even triple your investment. Get your copy now -- it's free!