The latest round of “call the top of the 3D bubble” is in full swing, fuelled by this chart from Hollywood site The Wrap, depicting the percentage of opening-weekend revenue major releases are getting from 3D screenings:
Almost everyone wanted to see Avatar in 3D, but more than half of the opening weekend crowd opted for the 2D version of Despicable Me. What does this mean?
It means that now that people have had a chance to experience 3D in theatres, they’re opting to spend $10 on a 2D screening rather than $15 on a 3D screening when given the option.
It’s not great news for Hollywood studios that have sunk boatloads of money into 3D cameras and tech, but it’s much, much worse news for consumer electronics companies such as Sony and Panasonic who are betting the farm on people wanting to upgrade two-year-old HDTVs to 3D HDTVs. But if Hollywood finds that making 3D movies isn’t as profitable as they thought, they’ll stop doing it. And without that content, no one will have any reason to buy a 3D TV.
Adam hopes and expects that 3D will die, but with all do respect, this chart doesn’t mean any of that.
Leaving aside the fact that the data is cherry-picked (Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans are suspiciously absent), this chart reflects the glut of 3D movies, the dearth of 3D theatres, and the decisions made by movie studios.
Digital projector manufacturers are currently cranking out 3D-enabled devices as fast as they possibly can, but most screens are still incapable of showing 3D movies. The many 3D movies coming out are competing for space on a limited number of screens. The percentage of revenue a movie takes in from 3D isn’t an organic product of consumer choice — it is largely predetermined by where a movie studio shows it.
Taking that into account, the trend looks very different. Clash of the Titans, for instance, took in 52% of its opening weekend revenue from the 28% of the screens showing the film in 3D, despite the fact that it was shoddily converted to 3D at the last minute.
3D might be a fad; it always has been in the past. But at least for now, 3D movies are still killing it.