How green is… Avatar (and other 3D movies)?

on in Entertainment

With Avatar breaking box office records, Global Cool asks: is there a downside to the 3D movie revolution?

While ten-foot tall, blue-skinned cat people on the forest planet of Pandora already seem to have got the recycling message, have you ever wondered about us earth-bound grunts?

If you’ve missed James Cameron’s epic 3D movie Avatar, you’re in a small minority. Nominated for nine Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards and already the highest-grossing movie of all time, it’s a sweeping space fantasy that pits wasteful humans against a race of noble and eco-conscious aliens on a distant planet.

Although critics have pointed out that the movie relies on the gimmickry of 3D to get its message across, it’s still stupendous: viewers are bobbing and weaving in their theatre seats with the realism of the movie. What they’re wearing has come under scrutiny: not their popcorn-bobbled sweaters, but the polarized specs that enable the full 3D experience.

A report for USA today calculated that in the first 46 days of screenings, over 42.1 million people donned their 3D goggles. Put end to end, they’d reach from London to Chicago.

So what happens when the lights come up and the dazed moviegoers stumble home, shedding flakes of popcorn over the carpet?

Well, according to sources in the companies that make them, the 3D glasses are greener than you think. Odeon and UCI, the largest players in the UK cinema scene, use RealD glasses after signing a deal back in 2007, and Vue cinemas followed them in 2009.

Real D’s environmental policy states that glasses are returned to head office, sent back by cinemas – or guilty, light-fingered 3D fans – and washed so they can be sent back out again for reuse. Each pair is so tough that they can be washed up to 500 times before deteriorating, and if they sustain damage they’re melted down and recycled.

So, banish those nightmares of landfill sites brimming with black plastic spectacles. It turns out that the 3D revolution isn’t as bad as all that. And if you get home from Pandora and realise you’re still packing a pair of polarized space goggles in your pocket – send them straight back to Real D’s European office. The Naavi would be proud…

RealD Europe Ltd.
Suite F, Ground Floor
Breakspear Park
Breakspear Way
Hemel Hempstead
HP2 4TZ
UK

Do you What do you think about 3D films like Avatar? Have your say in the comments below…

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