After the success of presenting The Lion King in 3D, Disney has converted its beloved Beauty and the Beast to 3D and is opening it in theaters everywhere today. It's not the first time a studio has breathed new life into a catalog title and reaped the box-office benefits. At home, more and more people are buying 3D-capable HDTVs and connecting them to Blu-ray 3D players (if you have a Playstation 3, you already own a 3D-capable player and might not have even known). There are a variety of Blu-ray 3D titles now available from nature documentaries to violent R-rated horror movies like Saw 3D, but there is also a long list of animated 3D favorites available on disc as well as via streaming on cable On Demand. Beauty and the Beast, for example, has been available on Blu-ray 3D since October.
Not all 3D conversions are created equal because sometimes the original source material has more natural depth in one movie than another. That is why stop-motion favorites like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline pop more than others at home because real 3D models were used and posed during filming. Be careful when you are picking up the 3D version of Coraline—the movie was released previously on DVD and Blu-ray packaged with those headache-inducing anaglyph glasses. You'll know you're getting the correct version by looking for "Blu-ray 3D" printed at the top of the plastic case.
One of the most breathtaking and underrated animated titles available on Blu-ray 3D and cable VOD is Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole. The movie did not hoot a lot of loot in theaters, but the extreme details of the owls' feathers and features as they soar through the sky look phenomenal in three dimensions.
More popular and kid-friendly are the Disney and Pixar favorites on Blu-ray 3D, including all three Toy Story movies, The Lion King, Cars 2, Bolt, A Christmas Carol, Monsters vs. Aliens, Tangled, Gnomeo & Juliet, Meet the Robinsons, G-Force and Chicken Little. Expect the mega-hit Up to drop in on Blu-ray 3D soon, too, since it just debuted on the format in the UK.
Not content to let Disney have all the fun, other studios have tinkered with animation in three dimensions with wildly varying degrees of success. Sony produced the acclaimed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs as well as Monster House, Open Season and the panned The Smurfs, although the latter inserts animated characters into the real world. Universal has the little yellow minions of Despicable Me and Weinstein released Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil on Blu-ray 3D. Paramount distributes Megamind and DreamWorks' lauded How to Train Your Dragon and all four Shrek movies exclusively at Best Buy. Fox comes to the 3D party with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and the colorful birds of Rio. Warner Bros. rounds out the list with the stop-motion animated The Polar Express and Yogi Bear, which animated the two lead bears and had them act opposite real actors like Anna Faris.
Does 3D make a mediocre animated movie suddenly dazzling? Of course not—just look at The Smurfs and Yogi Bear, which stink in any dimension. However, if you have a 3D setup and are in line to see Beauty and the Beast this weekend in theaters, you might want to make it pop out of your screen at home along with some other Blu-ray 3D favorites.