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Is 3-D Cinema Failing Again?

The’s Ben Fritz reports “3-D Starting to Look Flat at the Box Office“.

The ratio of grosses in theaters with 3-D screens to those that are 2-D only has declined significantly and fairly consistently since “My Bloody Valentine,” the first film this year to play on a mix of both, suggesting audience interest in the new format is waning.

He notes…

The more theaters with 3-D screens there are in a given region, the more they may split audiences interested in the technology and thus lower their average gross.

It’s also possible that as 3-D releases increase in frequency — “Up” came out four and a half weeks before “Ice Age,” “G-Force” follows just three weeks later — audiences become a little less enchanted by what they get for their extra money.

3-D at the cinema has come and gone before.  I think this time it will stick.  Some studios and exhibitors have been pushing for it as a way to combat piracy.

Have you gone to see the latest 3-D releases?  What were your thoughts?  Did you see a 2-D screening of the same film?  Do you think it is worth an extra cost?

16 thoughts on “Is 3-D Cinema Failing Again?”

  1. I haven’t been to a 3-D movie recently, outside of a Disney World trip several years ago. Most 3-D technologies have given me a headache after watching for a short time, so I’m a bit afraid of committing 1 1/2 or more hours to the experiment. A 3-D “ride” at WDW (ala “It’s Tough to be A Bug”) is usually not a problem at only 8-minutes.

    I can’t be the only one who has a problem with eye strain and 3-D technology.

    1. Douglas, modern 3D films are shown with circular polarizing technology, as opposed to the linear polarizing technology that is used in most 3D theme park “rides” that I’ve seen. With circular polarizing, the 3D effect isn’t dependent on the angle of your head, which makes it vastly more comfortable for me. With linear polarizing, a slight movement of your head can throw off the 3D effect, requiring your eyes to refocus and just getting frustrating.

      How the technology is used to further the art is another story, but the technology itself has really come a long ways, even beyond what you might think of as modern examples like It’s Tough to Be a Bug.

  2. That LATimes guy is so very ignorant. He discredits his own information before proceeding to base his entire column on it.

    I am surprised you are giving it traction. Its a joke.

    I have absolutely NO eyestrain from modern 3D. Old school 3D? Those red and blue glasses? Flush em in the toilet. There is no comparison with modern 3D.

  3. “Meet the Robinsons” was visually fantastic in 3-D (despite the fact that the film was pretty weak). “Coraline” was an excellent film made better by the 3-D. I think the problem is the cost. Where I am, it’s double the cost of a 2-D film and a 45 minute drive to the 3-D theater. We elected to see “up” in 2-D and go out for ice cream afterward instead!
    3-D is a gimmick – a great gimmick, but still… without a good story, it won’t be enough to draw crowds.

  4. This isn’t surprising, at least it shouldn’t be. Hollywood needs to study its own history. I predicted the 3-D fad was going to fail as it had during the 1950s when Hollywood used it as a device to combat against television and SURPRISE SURPRISE it is coming true.

  5. 3D is an enhancement that works well in a dedicated venue where the film is made to take advantage of the effect. It’s best in a 4D theatre that incorporates additional effects. That makes it well suited to a theme park experience. As an enhancement to conventional movie making, it’s mostly a gimmick. It doesn’t improve the story telling, and often distracts from it. So a film made to be enjoyed in 2D doesn’t usually become an “experience” worth paying extra for in 3D. As such, it is a fad that will die at the neighborhood cineplex, just as it did in the 1950s. But 3D — and 4D — at the theme park will live on.

  6. We saw ‘Monsters & Aliens’ in 3D. It was such a poor story that I was disappointed even more that I paid so much more for the 3D showing. The picture quality was great, but I had a noisy talker behind me…. Then we saw ‘Up’ at the drive-in with ‘Witch Mountain’, 2D of course. ‘Up’ was so great that I could have cared less if it was shown on a sheet in my back yard! So, long story short, it’s the quality of the film, not the presentation that’s important. Does anyone really want to pay extra money to see the Toy Storys or Beauty & the Beast in 3D? I’m more than happy to watch them over and over again on television at home.

  7. I myself get a bit of mild motionsickness from 3D films and I think that maybe from my astigmatism and 1 eye more in focus than the other.
    The one issue I haven’t seen talked about is the DVD sales. I mean do you have to have glasses at home forever to enjoy the film(“Coraline” comes with 5 pairs I think). Does anyone think this will affect rentals especially from “Netflix”. You have to wonder how much thought they gave to the long term life(sales) of films nowadays especially after theaters.

  8. I personally don’t think the 3-D is worth the extra price. My theatre charges a $6.00 premium on to of the normal overly expensive ticket price ($8.00 during matinee). For 4 of us to see Up in 3D it cost me almost $60.00!! More then enough to buy it on blu-ray twice! I then took my nephew to see it in 2D and the movie was just as good. To be honost I couldn’t even remember any of the 3D effects. From now on unless it’s something special (Toy Story double feature) I’ll be opting for 2D and using the saved money for a nice dinner or a blu-ray.

  9. My husband insists that 3D will make him nauseous or give him a headache, so we haven’t seen anything in 3D in the theater. But even if that weren’t the case, I think we would still seek out the theaters that aren’t showing 3D, because 3D is a very expensive addition and doesn’t really add anything to the experience as far as I’m concerned. It seems like a distraction from the actual movie, like a neat trick they’re shoving in our faces.

  10. I saw Up in 3D and then a second time in regular 2D. I really like 3D, I think it adds dimension to whatever’s on screen and, in my opinion, enhances a film when it’s used correctly (like in Up, used to make visuals more believable and reflect emotions, not pop stuff out into your face).

    But in 2D, Up was definitely still an amazing movie, and I’m glad it didn’t rely on 3D. I’ll add, however, that the reason I didn’t see it again in 3D was because of the price.

  11. personally, i’ve really enjoyed the three films i’ve seen using the current 3D technology–Bolt, Coraline, and Up. i felt like the 3D really added to the experience with these movies… it was used tastefully to enhance the film, not distract from it, giving it a real feeling of depth and substance.

    i don’t get any eyestrain or headache from watching 3D films, and i don’t mind paying a bit more for it, since i don’t go to the movies incredibly often anyways. i must say, the opportunity to experience these films in 3D was definitely part of the reason i decided to see them instead of something not in 3D that i could easily download and watch on my computer later.

  12. The economy is down.
    Many people are trying to watch what they spend.

    Our 12 yr. old is every bit as happy seeing a movie, such as the one we saw today, “Ice Age”, NOT in 3-D.
    And by us going to see the movies when the reduced price cinimas are, usually early Sat. Or Sun. mornings, we can take a family of three to see a good movie for $18.
    We see NO reason to pay extra for 3-D when in our opinion, it oesn’t make the movie any better.

    There are SO many movies coming out now that we want to see, that by doing the less expensive kind we can see a lot more of them.

    I think that there are a LOT more families in our situation than anyone realizes.


    I think they should continue to make more 3D films and must have good story line or at least feel like we’re on a thrill ride. But I hate it when sometimes they release it in a relatively small size screens which I would have to sit extra close to get a good effect and/or having to drive an extra 25 miles to a theater that has it. I if see it on a big screen, then I get my money’s worth.

  14. I saw ‘Bolt” in 3D and was blown away… I think they have refined the technology to a point that audiences can appreciate it as more than just a gimmick.

    That being said, 3D doesn’t fix the problems with movies. Sales aren’t dropping due to piracy, they’re dropping because the theater-going experience is no longer worth what is being charged. Why pay $30 for tickets and snacks to sit in a crowded theater with people kicking your seat, talking on cellphones, or trying to shush crying babies? With big screen TVs and unlimited DVD plans from netflix, more and more people would rather wait a few months and watch a movie from the comfort of their own home. Trying to charge MORE to see it in 3D will not convince people to return to the theater; it’s going to take a lot more than that to get us off our couches…

  15. I loved seeing Bolt, Up, Ice Age in 3D. I think it does add to the movie. Honestly, I don’t see any point in going to the theatre unless it is in 3D or is a particularly visual movie (like Star Wars.) But I do resent paying so much for it.

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