As the number of 3D movies has ramped up over the past few years, have you ever had the feeling that you were getting away with something by only paying three or four dollars more for a 3D movie? Yeah, me either. Adding on about a third of the price of a regular ticket seems more than fair for just adding one more dimension, but the studios’ bottom line doesn’t agree. You see, it costs a movie studio an upwards of $10m to furnish theaters with the 3D glasses they need for a big tentpole 3D release, and with box office sales of 3D movies dropping like stones over the past several months, they’re starting to think that $10m isn’t worth it in the long run.
So what are they going to do about it? Stop making 3D movies because the cost of production isn’t meeting the demand for the product? No, stupid! They’re going to raise the price of a 3D ticket even further so that we can pay for our own glasses.
Or at least, this is the step that Sony Pictures is taking. In a letter sent out to exhibitors, the studio said they will no longer be covering the cost of the glasses for their upcoming 3D films like Men in Black III and The Amazing Spider-Man, and that theaters would have to take it upon themselves to sell glasses to the consumer. This will probably hash out to about another 50 cents a ticket, unless theater owners decide glasses sales are something they want to make a profit off of and jack up the price even more. They will have a few months to decide what course of action they’re going to take though, according to Sony worldwide president of distribution Rory Bruer, “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.”
Of course, I think that this policy is a bad idea. It’s pretty clear to me that the bloom is off the rose when it comes to 3D movies. Audiences, even casual audiences, have begun to realize that 3D movies are a price-gauging gimmick that usually look pretty lame. Only when the greatest care is taken to craft a truly 3D experience, all through the production of a film, does the extra three to four dollars feel like it’s worth it. And how many times have we seen that happen? Two, maybe three times over the course of dozens and dozens of 3D films? A lot of the time, a movie looks better in 2D anyway; the image is brighter, less blurry, and you don’t have to wear stupid plastic glasses through the whole thing.
I think that if people aren’t coming out in enough numbers to support studios being able to pay for the cost of the glasses, then passing even more cost onto the customer isn’t the right answer. That’s going to make even less people opt in for the 3D upgrade. The answer is to stop making 3D movies. Or maybe just make one a year, and make sure that every step is taken to assure that it’s a mind-blowing 3D experience, James Cameron style. But that’s just my opinion. Am I the only one who stopped going for the 3D option, whenever possible, a long time ago? [THR]