After Closing Makeshift 3-D Theaters, the Cuban Government Sets Up its Own

Lead Photo: Courtesy of IMAX
Courtesy of IMAX
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Bespectacled Cubans can now understand the experience of their glasses wearing glasses. After the government banned private 3-D theaters two years ago, Cuba is finally on board with the format. This time around, the theaters will be run by the government. The Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC) opened two 3-D theaters in Havana on August 20, according to CiberCuba. In the first week, Kung Fu Panda, Rio 2, Beowulf, and Hugo will be shown. It was just two years ago that entrepreneurs set up their own 3-D theaters, but did it without authorization. They set up makeshift theaters by buying big-screen 3-D TVs and charging for admission, Reuters reported.

Business owners needed more than just TVs, though. Jardiel González, for example, rented an abandoned, 100-seat theater from the government. On top of installing a 200-inch wide screen, he also had to make the space usable by repairing the roof and bathrooms. He found success, until the government called for the closing of unauthorized businesses on November 2, 2013. It was such a blow that he couldn’t even leave his house after that. “Packing up here was a little depressing, because it took a tremendous sacrifice to open,” he said at the time.

Photo: Franklin Reyes / AP file
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The frustrating experience was probably made more confusing by headlines that said the Cuban government was rethinking their ban on the 3-D businesses. Just a few weeks after the forced closures, it was reported by The Associated Press that the restrictions could be lifted. Nothing ever came out of that, as the ban remained in effect.

With the makeshift theaters still closed, Francis Ford Coppola visited Cuba and explained why he was a non-believer of 3-D. “Five years ago, when Avatar was released, everyone was delighted and said that 3-D was the future of cinema and that soon all movies would be done that way,” he said, according to Progreso Weekly. “I don’t believe that the future of cinema is 3-D, which of course is not a 21st-century invention. It has been around since the 1950s in films such as House of Wax. Hitchcock also did a movie with that technique.” Tell that to the youth who readily accepted the format.