Why 3D Movies Will Cost More in 2012

Author: Stephen Vanderpool
Published: September 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm
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Movie tickets were expensive even before James Cameron’s Avatar sparked a powerful resurgence of 3D movies. Now, moviegoers pay an average of about $3 more for a couple hours of slightly nauseating sensory overload. And pretty soon, the cost of a 3D movie ticket may take another bump.

You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses?

Sony Pictures Entertainment recently notified theater owners it will cease to cover the cost of its RealD glasses. In the current distribution model, studios provide glasses for the 3D flicks they produce, essentially donating them to theaters. Contrary to popular belief, the extra cost of 3D movie tickets does not go toward paying for your glasses. The theaters charge extra for two reasons: 1) to cover the cost of converting their screens to 3D and 2) because they can.

Providing “free” glasses can cost a studio anywhere from $5-10 million per feature or about $0.50 per ticket. By May 2012, Sony hopes to pass that expense along to theater owners and theatergoers. If successful, other studios will likely do the same. Fox previously attempted to cease handing out free glasses but backed off when its efforts were met with outrage. If the studios stop footing the bill for glasses, theaters will be forced to either take a hit or start charging more for 3D movies (gee, I wonder which they’ll choose).

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Despite recent reports of waning interest in 3D, The Lion King was rereleased in 3D and has been the #1 movie in the US for two weeks running. The Lion King is the first of a whole slew of old movies to be rereleased in 3D. Titanic will be out in April, Top Gun will be rereleased sometime in 2012, and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace will hit theaters again in February. Obviously, 3D rerelease is a low-risk way for rich Hollywood moguls to make a quick buck, and everyone knows it. But that knowledge won’t stop audiences from revisiting some of their old favorites on the big screen.

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