If you look deeply into the plans of the folks in Hollywood who want to continue to attract viewers to the box office - yes, the theaters, 3D is the hook. With the advanced techniques now available to create a stunning, realistic environment - including IMAX, most entertainment seekers will be drawn to the malls and other "film" venues in large numbers. Recently, directors like Steven Spielberg and others have launched projects in 3D. Like James Cameron's Avatar, these mega box-office projects will continue to provide Hollywood with huge profits and success, especially with 3D.
Smartphones, Redbox, Hulu, Netflix can deliver entertainment content to your home or handset, but can't, yet, duplicate the experience of the theater. But they never could, even before 3D. And there are a number of goods reasons, most of which have been studied, documented, and even taught in Film School.
The biological brain is a curious study, as are those stimulae that affect it. Each of the types of media which technology provides accomplish different outcomes, believe it or not. And it is these outcomes and the extent to which we are attracted to them that explains the different successes of various forms of media. When we read our brains decode symbols - transform them from characters on a page into our language system. When we watch television, we view a two-dimensional, full color, edited, representation of reality, without the linguistic part (of course there's talk and action). YouTube gives us a similar, but miniature, snippit of a real-time event, much like the snapshot of old gave us in a photo that we picked-up after development (by Kodak) at the drugstore. However, when we go to a movie theater, a whole range of interesting conceptual and perceptual events occur, few of which are the same as the media we just described, or any live event itself, like a football game or a concert. Our senses and brains react differently to each of these in its own right. And each individual person's "system" (language, experience, sensory) reacts a little bit differently as well.
So what of the smartphone and computer?
Time will tell, because thus far we don't have 3D or a movie theater experience at all, although there are a few models of mobile devices with 3D graphics (whatever that means). What we do have is "dumbed down" content. A sports event, movie, TV show, newscast presented on a 4" screen with a tinny auditory system (unless you always wear earbuds). And its still not the "thing" itself, but only a representation which, to the brain, is still different.
Is that so bad? Of course not. Its where we are as a culture. But remember, back when we truly believed that reading was important and demanded that ALL children be taught to read in school, we had whole industries developed to dumb down reading with comic books, magazines, novellos and dime novels.
The beat goes on!