June 05, 2011

3D failing at the US box office

Good news if, like me, you don't like 3D movies at the cinema: two of the summer's 3D blockbusters have proven far less successful at the US box office than expected - could the awful sunglass experience be on the way out? According to Entertainment Weekly:
The last two weeks will not go down as 3-D’s greatest moment. First there was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which earned just 46 percent of its $90.2 million opening from 3-D showings. That was the second-worst 3-D debut — on a percentage-of-gross basis — since November 2008. And then Kung Fu Panda 2‘s three-dimensional screenings could muster only 45 percent of its $60.9 million opening. For both films, nearly two-thirds of moviegoers opted for the 2-D version. Depending on who you ask, that’s either an indication that audiences are starting to reject 3-D cinema, or simply a blip in 3-D’s otherwise promising future. But Wall Street investors aren’t liking what they’re seeing, causing shares of the leading 3-D technology company RealD to tumble 26 percent the last two weeks.
Of course there may well be other factors influencing audiences (both films are sequels, albeit with reviews that promised "a bit better than the last one") but it would be great to see cinemas in the UK at least giving us the option of 2D showings for some of the better films foisted upon us as over-priced 3D.

10 comments:

jonathan said...

The simple fact of the matter is that unless you get a great 3d film like avatar wher the director really uses it properly, you end up with films that have 3d added later, this in the main e.g toy story 3 , kung fu panda 2, is rubbish, the film is the same just costs more to view

Moroboshi said...

Great news. Until 3D is free of those ridiculous darkened glasses it will never take over. Amazing that this is the 3rd time Hollywood has attempted 3D, and it still isn't ready. See you in another 20-30 years!

Erich said...

The success of 3D has been nothing short of astonishing, and it's only natural to expect that it will peak at some stage, and then settle into its natural level.

Rest assured, 3D isn't going away, and what the article fails to do anything other than hint at is the fact that the sheer number of 3D releases means that fewer 3D screens are available for each movie, and that this obviously has an effect on how big a percentage of the profits can come from 3D at all.

Jay said...

The reason there are fewer 3D screens for each movie is because people have had enough of this 3D fad, which comes around every 10 years! 3D is only good for purpose 3D films that last 10-15 minutes of people sticking things towards your eyes! a 2 hour movie in 3D gives bad eyestrain and alot of people simply take the glasses off after a while, and the next time they visit the cinema its straight to the 2D version because it adds nothing to the storyline, infact it takes away from the story because you are constantly waiting for the next bit of 3D to come out....sure it won't go away now as its the still the biggest stride in 3D since the 70's but it will be an added extra on the blu-ray disc in the future, not a big selling point for many.

Richard said...

my personal view is why do we need 3D?
just like a good book, the story is what we go and enjoy.
Yes we ocasionally love weak plot action movies with great special effects, but when you are immersed in a great story, you don't need 3D.

In fact the 3D element is too false in movies! what do I mean? we use lots of clues to gauge size, distance etc. Anything over about 10meters we don't see as 3D.
Our brain uses a bunch of other clues to perceive size, depth etc. all of which 2D movies use.

Image that great scene in an epic where you look over the landscape... in real world we see it as 2D in a 2D movie it feels natural and 3D adds NOTHING to the shot. In some cases it might make the shot look worse.

So I admit I am bias and I've never been a fan of 3D. Again my personal view is sound and picture quality should come first. I would rather see more 4K films than 3D films and a move to 8k (4K is an image standard akin to moving from SD TV to HD TV)

Erich said...

Jay says...
The reason there are fewer 3D screens for each movie is because people have had enough of this 3D fad

So your assertion is that theatres are actually dismantling their expensive 3D upgrades now?

... it adds nothing to the storyline
Neither does surround, color, higher resolution, etc.

As I've already said, regardless of anyone's personal bias and preference, 3D has been an incredible success, and the fact that people are willing to put up with these supposed headaches and horrible glasses obviously says a lot about how eager they are to experience movies in 3D. Imagine if you told movie-goers they would have to wear special glasses to enjoy the full resolution of a movie, or that uncomfortable headphones were required to hear more than standard stereo. It wouldn't work, but people will do it for 3D, and pay a considerable premium for the previlige. Can you imagine how popular 3D is going to be when the glasses are no longer required? The 3D future looks bright. Just not for the glasses manufacturers.

Richard said...

@enric...
You raise an interesting debate about whether 3D is good or bad for movies... (ok Nailli started it)
First lets close one point.
re the projectors in cinemas. Most cinemas have been investing in digital projectors for a while now. I was at the launch of the Sony 4K cinema system for Spiderman 3. The quality was awesome compared to previous movies. With this new generation of projectors, all that is required to enable these to do 3D is a change of the lens. The cinemas won’t be dismantling the projectors because they are essentially hi-def projectors; They are most likely just be choosing not to swap the lens over for a 3D movie.

I am 100% behind your comment about surround sound and high resolution, these absolutely make a difference to the experience. I believe more movies need to be hi-def. Go see an iMax move in waterloo on the big screen and you will see how the image quality makes such a difference.
Don’t agree with you on colour – lol OK I do but... B&W is fantastic for the right movie, think about Schindler’s List – a movie in the modern colour era that was made in b&w and won Oscars. The story and direction are important and the use of colour or lack of, was about setting a mood.

I agree that the success of 3D has been astonishing. All the movies I've seen recently in 3D have had great gimmicks in them. I loved the closing titles to Despicable Me!!! BUT I feel you forget something... (and this is just a fun debate)
Surround sound is transparent to you in a movie... you don’t notice the fact you have surround sound. No-one ever goes ‘wow the sound in that movie was great but the story was c**p’. Sound is just part of the movie.
Currently 3D is make to try and be different and WOW the audience. I have often heard people say ‘great 3D effects, shame about the movie’. Until directors make 3D transparent to the story and stop treating it as a gimmick, where the effect is used to shout ‘look at me... I’m in 3D’, 3D will just stop wowing the audiences after a while and they will drop back to 2D (as has happened).

One day I do think movies will all be shot in 3D and won’t try to be about the gimmiks, but until then...

Erich said...

Richard sayz...
With this new generation of projectors, all that is required to enable these to do 3D is a change of the lens.

Some of the latest generation projectors are already 3D ready, of course, but when the 3D revolution started a couple of years ago, most of those theatres who already had digital projectors needed to invest in new models with more powerful lamps to compensate for the loss of light inherit to 3D, as well as high gain screens. There are various other costs associated with 3D as well, and there's no question it has been a significant investment for theatres. There's simply no evidence that they're starting to scale back on 3D. The drop in percentages really is to a large extent due to the availability of screens compared to 3D movies in release. As I said earlier, 3D may have hit its ceiling and will now drop to its natural "comfort level", but all this nonsense about people being sick of it, and that it won't be back for another 20 years is just that... nonsense.

Don’t agree with you on colour – lol OK I do
I accept your surrender. ;)

I agree that the success of 3D has been astonishing. All the movies I've seen recently in 3D have had great gimmicks in them. I loved the closing titles to Despicable Me!!! BUT I feel you forget something... (and this is just a fun debate)
Surround sound is transparent to you in a movie... you don’t notice the fact you have surround sound.

Not anymore, no, but I remember the first time I watched a movie in surround, and it was pretty mind-blowing stuff, and it can still be used to great WOW effect, but it's obviously not nearly as big a deal as 3D.

I agree that all movies will eventually be made in 3D, particularly as 3D production and ticket prices start to come down. At the moment, 3D has to earn the premium people pay for tickets, and to make the inconvenience of the glasses worth it, so it will be used almost exclusively for blockbusters. Documentary nature movies and the sort have embraced 3D for some time, though, and they've been able to use the technology with much more subtlety than your average Hollywood blockbuster. The necessity for glasses means it's still not entirely transparent, but we're getting there. I think the first generation of glasses-free sets are meant to hit the 3D pubs over the coming months.

Jon said...

Brigntness, and price both need to converge with 2D if 3D is to have a long term future.

We have all enjoyed the gimmick, but the novelty is wearing thin and if the PQ (principally brightness) is not as good and it costs more the % choosing it will drop.

ledsam said...

just a thought!!
i've been to a 3D movie and guess what? i didn't see any 3D.
its all because not all people can see 3D from a 2D source as your eyes do not work in 20/20 vision.
that extra £2.50 was a waist off monies