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This Week in LA History: Movies Became More Dimensional

Warner Bros. Pictures premieres the first major 3-D feature-length film on April 10, 1953.

Touted as the first three-dimensional color film released by a major American studio, House of Wax helped spark the 3-D film craze of the 1950s. The film was a hit at the time, bringing in approximately $5.5 million at the North American box office. Since its release, the film has reached a domestic total gross sum of $23.7 million. It currently ranks 47th among the top horror films according to the popular Web site rottentomatoes.com.

House of Wax helped spur the era of 3-D film; close to 50 other three-dimensional titles were released within just a few years. By 1955, public interest in the gimmick had declined and films were no longer made in the stereoscopic format. It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that IMAX revitalized the old format with its film We Are Born of Stars. 3-D film remained a subculture to mainstream cinema until its resurgence in 2009, which was marked by the most expensive film of all time, Avatar, and its stunning computer generated graphics. Since the Oscar-winning film’s release, the number of 3-D digital screens worldwide has exploded to 43,000 from 9,000, and the number of films released with an added dimension has nearly doubled since 2009. Unlike the era of House of Wax and the red and blue polarized glasses of the ‘50s, it now seems 3-D is here to stay.