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3-D Is Alive and Well

By Tom Houseman

July 30, 2010

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So I’ve decided to go through Mr. Roane’s article and point out a number of specious, fallacious, and just plain biased evidence that he presents in favor of his argument…

"While premium pricing for 3-D movie tickets has lined studio pockets over the last few years, it hasn't translated into throngs of new moviegoers at the theater. Movie admissions have been in a tailspin for more than a decade, and despite a bump in 2009, new data shows the public is cooling to the offerings at their local theater yet again.”

Mr. Roane’s first argument that 3-D is “dying” is that the new technology has not single-handedly revitalized the film industry? That seems like a lot to ask, in addition to making no sense. Ticket sales have fallen steadily because there are other ways for people to spend there time, between TV, video games, and the Internet. why is he placing the blame on 3-D right now? Oh, right, because it fits his narrative.

“Hollywood.com's box-office survey shows attendance down by 2.2% through July 18th of this year when compared with 2009. Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the busiest four days of the year, drew the smallest audience in 17 years.”




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A number of movies have underperformed at the box-office so far this year, but almost none of them are the ones released in 3-D. Robin Hood, MacGruber, Knight and Day, and The A-Team were all in the range of disappointment to flop, while Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans vastly exceeded expectations. Was it because those were cinematic masterpieces? They both got critically slammed, actually, but they were big event movies that everyone saw, and most people saw them in 3-D. I’ll talk about the relationship between film quality and box-office in a second (Spoiler Alert: there is none).

I’d also like to point out that Mr. Roane mentions Memorial Day weekend as being particularly bad for the film industry. What films were released that weekend? Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Sex and the City 2, neither of which were released in 3-D.

"To see a $4 premium on 3-D pricing is a pretty gigantic move for pricing," says Richard Greenfield, BTIG's media analyst. "Despite the staggering success of some blockbuster films, attendance is down year to date. That is clearly not a good sign."

Every year theaters increase the price of tickets. Every year journalists write about how audiences are about to revolt Russian Proletariat style… and yet they never do. Studio execs are very smart. They wouldn’t charge so much for 3-D if they didn’t have significant amounts of proof that they could get away with it (see the box-office results for Journey to the Center of the Earth, My Bloody Valentine, Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans and others for said proof). Movies are still less expensive than most other forms of entertainment, except for, like, reading. And seriously, who reads anymore?

The Last Airbender, M. Night Shyamalan's epic flop at the box office, has become something of a poster child for all the expensive over-hyped promise of 3-D technology.


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