Has 3D Already Failed? http://tinyurl.com/6xag7oh
Now I’m a 3D skeptic: it can really enhance selected films, but it should not ever be the “norm” because the problems outweigh the benefits for most movies. Now this article comes along and reviews the economics: does the additional cost of 3D return a benefit at the box office? It turns out that it probably isn’t any more.
Despite the fact that 3D brought in higher grosses for the more successful films in that format last year, some experts are pointing to a decline in revenues over the year. In July of last year, Daniel Frankel published a widely cited chart called “The Rise & Fall of 3D” on The Wrap showing that since the release of Avatar the previous December, the proportion of the opening weekend box-office for major films coming from 3D screenings had declined:
There’s a revenue chart at that point showing declining benefit from 3D for a movie’s gross. Particularly telling is what happened with Toy Story III where there was no shortage of 3D screens to show it on (highest number ever for a release) but:
Not only that, but Engber points out that the 2D versions of Toy Story 3 actually outperformed the 3D ones:
Then we come to the weekend of June 18, 2010, when Toy Story 3 opened in more than 4,000 theaters around the country. It was a huge weekend for the Pixar film—one of the biggest of all time, in fact, with more than $110 million in total revenue, and $66 million from 3-D. Yet a close look at the numbers shows something else: On average, Toy Story 3 pulled in $27,000 for every theater showing the movie in 3-D, and $28,000 for every one that showed it flat. In other words, the net effect of showing Woody, Buzz, and friends in full stereo depth was negative 5 percent. The format was losing money.
We’ll see if 3D maintains its prominence as we move forward. I have two primary concerns, beyond the usual:
- Wearing the 3D glasses keeps reminding me that I’m outside the experience looking in, something that’s not obvious without the glasses; and
- Every time we change camera angles, in 3D I need to take a moment to work out where I am in space, taking me out of the movie for just a moment-at every cut!
3D is not like color where the benefit was immediately obvious and no special equipment – projector or viewer – was required. All upside, no downside. 3D is not so simple.
Walter Murch weighed in through an email to Roger Ebert: “Why 3D doesn’t work and never will. Case closed