Despite a Huge Box Office Year, 3D Sales Are Slipping & Hollywood Worries

by on July 12, 2012

in Entertainment

Iron Man RealD 3D GlassesTHR wrote that even though the domestic box office earnings are at an all-time high, Hollywood is not smiling. In the same headline they noted of the dramatic slide of attendance of the 3D movie.

This worries “Hollywood” because they chose to bank on the 3D movie ever since 83% of Avatar‘s & 56% Toy Story‘s domestic gross came from 3D screenings.

There was money to be had in this new gimmick because even though Avatar destroyed box office records, at THAT time, it was only the 26th most viewed movie. Today it’s the 5th most viewed movie of all time. Yet this year only 32% of Brave‘s & 38% of Madagasacar 3‘s monies came from 3D screenings.

Some studio execs believe people are getting more selective on what they spend money on at the movies while other studio execs seem more in tune with the issue saying movie ticket prices are too high.

Thor in 'The Avengers' in 3D packed the HouseWhat Hollywood is worried about is valid. Sure, this is a record-setting year, but that’s because of The Avengers and The Hunger Games. (Thor brought it to the enemy with Meow-meow!!!) Meanwhile, everything else is floundering… compared to their expectations.

Theater owners seem (IMHO) blind to the issue and don’t believe that ticket prices are the issue. I am not surprised they would say that, being that ticket prices are what they live by.

If you’re one of the regulars that follow my meanderings, you saw my praise of The Avengers box office record breaking run.

In the same breath I also pointed out that 3D movie tickets cost 54% more than 2D tickets and the large format (IMAX and IMAX-like) screenings cost 130% more than 2D.

The other trick I observed was that 67% of the screenings in my region were special format, aka non-2D.

In the case of The Avengers, I don’t think people minded at all. If you really love the concept or project, I don’t think you’ll mind dropping a few bucks to see something you KNOW you will love seeing. Right now, this movie has crested the $600M mark and it has yet to open in Japan, which it does in mid-August. The movie is bound to show a resurgence in the box office tally, considering that the average movie ticket price in Japan is $21.

But then there was the case of the Fright Night remake.

When it opened, it had very few 2D screening options and as the weeks went on Disney had the 2D screenings pulled. It’s my belief that most live-action movies are not worth ticket prices 54% more and you’ll see that opinion echoed by other online critics. Me, I patiently sat it out until it became a rental. I can play this game too Dis! I”m stubborn.

Therein lies part of the issue, in my mind. Studios and movie theaters are trying to make the bigger bucks off of 3D screenings. But when a family of four can spend either ~$70 or $50 to see a movie, you do the math. Some days you have the bucks, some days you don’t.

(Though I must confess, animated features are INCREDIBLE in 3D!)

'The Amazing Spider-Man' in 3DOn the bright side (for studios) our overseas brethren are eating up 3D movies so that saves them. China is making agreements with studios, with the understanding that more 3D theaters will be built for the people. But domestically, we’re getting stingy. We need to in this economy. It was also noted that fan-boys are more willing to drop $$ on 3D movies. And that makes sense when you look at the price difference for families going to the movies versus folks that gear up for these kinds of events.

And though I take a stand in general about saving your money at the box office, I have taken the dip into the realm of 3D movies… my first 3D adventure was Tron: Legacy, then Kung Fu Panda 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Prometheus in 3D. The movies with a ton of CGI are fun in 3D, animation is fun in 3D. And sure, it added a certain sense of being there when I watched Prometheus, but had I seen it in 2D, it would have been just fine without.

I’m not against 3D. I’m against the huge push to shove down the consumer’s throat. I’m against the cost of the effect being passed on with much higher ticket prices. I’m aghast at the shove in the home entertainment market trying to sell 3D in that venue.

Other than that, I must say, 3D has come a long way and does look good. I’ll give it that.

In the meantime, I will continue to be very selective in what I catch in 3D. I have to be completely smitten with a movie to consider seeing it in 3D because I too have to watch my wallet. I recently caught The Amazing Spider-Man in 2D and that was absolutely perfect for me. Nothing was lost in translation, visuals or story content. And I saved a chunk of money enjoying it.

The tolerance of the consumer or the prices being set by the studios will be what makes or breaks this gimmick. Someone will buckle sooner or later.

[ hollywoodreporter ]

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Simmons July 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

LOL… it’s OK Paul. Some folks leave comments after only seeing the title and not bothering to read the words! (You see some of the bright comments left on my casting call pieces.)

Paul Forcey July 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I almost think Hollywood must be a different planet from us.

“only 32% of people watching Brave paid for 3D”

DUHH.. I love my daughter with all my heart, but going to the movies is expensive enough without paying for 3D for the whole family.

My brother in law has 4 kids each, so that is 6 people..Say it is a choice between $8 a head or $11 a head (not sure of exact prices but I bet that isn’t far off)..
That means $48 vs $66..

Plus the popcorn etc..

Doing kids films in 3D is just proof that they really do not know anything about their customers…

I was so annoyed I wrote this then read the rest of your post Bruce, sorry I can see you covered it..See you got my goat up!

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