On Tuesday, Fox said that it wasn’t going to pay the $1-million-per-movie cost to supply theatres with 3-D glasses for the studio’s upcoming in-your-face films like this summer’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Instead, Fox wants the movie theatres to pay for them. Understandably, multiplex owners aren’t too happy about the extra cost, and many are considering revolting by only showing Ice Age 3 in 2-D, which could massively cut into the film’s box-office revenues.
Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest theatre chain, has reportedly already decided to only show Ice Age 3 in 2-D, sources close to the company tell Entertainment Weekly. Two sources also believe AMC theatres and Cinemark will oppose Fox’s demands, Entertainment Weekly reports:
Evidently, the glasses were part of a deal worked out long ago, when theatre chains started installing the silver screens and digital projectors needed to view 3-D digital cinema, so to go back now and renegotiate after the equipment has been put in place is a difficult proposition.
One anonymous exhibitor outlined the reasons for his ire to the mag:
“I’m already paying fees to RealD for the systems. I’m paying to put in the silver screens and I’m paying to train employees to run the product. To come in at this point and say they aren’t going to pay for the glasses, yet they want all the upside of the revenue, is ridiculous.”
Sadly, both the theatres and the studios are paying hefty sums to usher in this 3-D revolution, with the budget on Fox’s upcoming live-action 3-D pic Avatar already reported to be north of $200 million. So, it’s no surprise each side wants the other one to foot the bill. While we’re not surprised that cost-centric Fox, still recovering from a rough year at the box office in 2008, doesn’t want to put up the dough, if this is what it takes to get the additional revenues that 3-D movies provide, Fox may have to give in. After all, that Avatar budget won’t be easy to recoup.
For its part, Fox, via distribution president Bruce Snyder, denied that there was any problem. “No exhibitor has said they don’t want to play Ice Age in 3-D,” Snyder told EW. “All we are doing is working out the issues.”
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