Whether you like them or not, 3-D movies are here to stay. The next big thing in Hollywood is proving to be just that with audience and is crediting for helping Hollywood achieve a record breaking summer, according to Variety.
But now some within the Hollywood community are beginning to criticize the new format, saying that the limited number of digital 3-D ready theaters in limiting the exposure for their work and creating shorter windows for 3-D movies to make money. Translation: a glut of 3-D releases is leaving money on the table at the box-office.
At this week’s 3D Entertainment Summit at the Universal Hilton, distributors expressed concerns that the growing slate of 3-D offerings is not allowing films to stay in theaters long enough and earn their full revenue potential.
During “The Business Case for 3D” panel, Screen Digest senior analyst Charlotte Jones said 3D remains a strong revenue driver for features, especially for this summer’s pics. “Without 3D premium pricing, the summer would not have registered as positive,” she said.
Moreover, she said, “Where 3D has permeated a genre, titles not available in 3D are at a significant disadvantage.”
The major crucial factor behind the decline is 3D screen capacity, Jones said, and “3D movie revenues are being squeezed because we’re seeing more 3D releases in the same time frame.”
Time in 3D theaters per title is down, too, she said, from 8.7 weeks in 2008 to just 3.1 weeks this year. The 2010 schedule, with some 30 3D features slated, could drive the time down to as little as 1.8 weeks.
This crush undermines some of the advantages of 3D, she said, “including a stronger run over the duration of a title.”
Attendees at the Hilton heard complaints about the lack of 3D screens starting with the morning keynote, from Henry Selick, writer-director of the hit animated feature “Coraline.”
“I feel positively about designing the film for 3D and disappointed about how few people got to see it in the ideal way,” said Selick.
Opening on Feb. 6, “Coraline” found itself wedged behind “My Bloody Valentine” but managed to book approximately two-thirds of the 900 available 3D screens for three weeks. Then Disney’s “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience” knocked it out of 3D theaters, though some rebooked “Coraline” when the Jonas Brothers failed to live up to expectations.
“In a very small window, we did almost 85% of our business on those screens vs. 2D,” Selick said. But he also said he thought the final $75 million total would have been much higher if the pic had had all the 3D screens available at the time.
“Coraline” was a recurring topic as executives and analysts discussed the need for more screens. Tim League, founder of the small Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, said that when his complex played the pic, “The 3D theater was a smaller venue, but the 3D numbers were 40% higher.”