The 3D craze that swept the planet in the wake of James Cameron’s Avatar seems to have waned as of late. While 80% of people watched Avatar in 3D, fewer dollars have been spent on subsequent 3D film tickets. Is the economy to blame? Is it the 3-5 extra dollars one has to pay to watch a 3D film? Or is it the 3D itself?
Now, in somewhat hilarious news, Sony has sent a letter to theater owners across the nation informing them that, as of May 3rd, 2012, they will no longer be paying for those awkward 3D glasses you have to wear to watch blurry things come out of the screen at you. And who does Sony want to foot the bill? You.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Worldwide President of Distribution said of the letter:
“This is an issue that has to be resolved between us and our exhibition partners. We are trying to give them a very lengthy lead time in regards to the change in policy.”
Basically, Sony is fed up with having to pay from $5 million to $10 million on 3D glasses for tentpole projects – and since The Amazing Spider-Man and Men in Black III are both coming out next summer, they want to make the switch before they have to incur any additional losses. Fair enough! Except, what’s the extra $$ we’re paying for already, if not the 3D glasses?
Exhibitors are expected to respond negatively to Sony’s letter, especially if there's any chance they're going to have to pay for the glasses themselves. After all, weren’t they pressured in the first place to upgrade their projectors, et al, to make way for the future of 3D?
Which is why Sony supports an ownership model where the glasses would be a new means of revenue for theaters, and theatergoers would pay for their own glasses. Would this be a one time fee? Would you keep your glasses and only pay for new ones when you misplace your first pair? It's unclear at this point.
Furthermore, who wants to be the guy to say to theatergoers, “Sir or madam, in addition to the $4-5 you’re already paying on top of a typical $13 ticket, we’d like you to pay an additional fee for the really annoying glasses you have to wear to fully experience that $17-18 3D experience”?
Of course, there’s always the argument that no one has to purchase what they don’t want to purchase. But isn’t that the point? People are not going to go for this. Perhaps audiences would’ve been more open to the idea back when 3D was initially implemented – in this economy, it’s doubtful – but if Netflix has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t keep worsening a deal when there are better, cheaper deals out there. And the best, cheapest deal in the world of cinema tends to be the 2D experience.
It should go without saying that not all 3D films are bad. Some, indeed, are very good. But rarest of all is the 3D film that is superior to its 2D counterpart. Is the extra cost worth that rare example?
What about you, Screen Ranters? Are you willing to pay an additional charge on top of the already additional charge you pay for 3D films? Let us know in the comments.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.
Men in Black III hits theaters May 25, 2012. The Amazing Spider-Man hits theaters July 3rd, 2012. Sony’s new policy, again, goes into effect May 3rd, 2012.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter