Despicable Me 2 Marks a New Low for 3D Ticket Sales

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We’ve been seeing news stories about the decline of 3D ticket sales for a couple of years now, but studios are continuing to push forward with 3D releases for most of their major blockbusters. To be fair, they don’t really have a choice; theatre owners have spent millions of dollars upgrading their systems to be 3D capable and they expect plenty of content to support it. Unfortunately, there just aren’t many movies being released where 3D is an essential part of the experience. Audiences are continuing to speak with their wallets by avoiding 3D screenings in droves, and this past weekend has seen one of the lowest 3D turnouts on record. Despicable Me 2 recorded just 27% of its opening weekend gross from 3D screenings, while most other summer movies haven’t fared much better. Could this really be the beginning of the end for 3D?

According to EW, Despicable Me 2’s opening weekend is being called “the lowest 3-D share in modern box office history.” 3D ticket sales for animated movies in general have been slow, which is ironic because they are arguably the most flexible and easiest to convert. However, it makes sense because the 3D ticket prices really add up when a whole family is attending a movie.

Even some of the summer’s biggest movies like Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness took less than 50% of their box office from 3D screenings. The Great Gatsby, which was marketed as a 3D extravaganza, was at just 33%. When you compare those numbers to movies from a few years ago like Avatar (71%) and Tron Legacy (82%), it’s clear that the novelty of 3D has worn off. At this point, it’s going to be up to James Cameron to wow us with Avatar 2 and 3, otherwise I think the writing is on the wall. Do you think 3D is dying or is this just a temporary lull? What was the last movie that was worth seeing in 3D?

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  • Tum Tum Tyranus

    Great fucking news. Thanks Sean.

    And no movie is worth seeing in 3D. Fuck the darkness.

  • Gerry

    The novelty of 3d has not worn off, in my opinion, it’s those greedy bastards in the film industry that have killed 3d.

    It’ was just the same with home 3d. Instead of pushing passive 3d tv’s which can be used with cheap glasses, active 3d tv’s were sold with no glasses or only one pair, forcing people to buy 3 or more extra pairs for $50 – 60 per pair. Plus 3d blu rays cost an absolute fortune.

    It’s as if movie executives have no awareness that there’s a global recession. If 3d was seen as a way to prolong cinema attendance generally, and had identical prices to 2d, rather than being seen as a cash cow, I think 3d would be flourishing.

    Now that 3d is failing what is the next percieved cash cow? A premium cinema going experience in cinemas and 4k in the home cinema.

    I hope those greedy movie executives don’t kill cinema but I fear long term that they will. Sigh.

  • CrumbThumber

    I believe the word you are looking for is “gimmick.” Not novelty. Haha.

  • Indianamcclain

    Yay!

  • Maybe I’ve never experienced great 3D, but I for one always choose the 2D, and I get free tickets so its not a price thing. It really irks me when my theatre offers a movie in only 3D, or puts the 3D show on with no 2D until later in the day, trying to squeeze the money out of families. Sometimes a 2D will go in a smaller theatre, with hopes it will sell out and spill over into a 3D showing.

  • TJ

    3D’s cool when it’s viewed in true IMAX; no problems with dark screen then, at least in my experience. It’s the best way to watch all the summer blockbusters. Hell, it even made Transformers 3 enjoyable. Standard 3D is not worth the extra cost, IMO.

  • Chuck

    Just saw Pacific Rim in IMAX 3D and it was awesome, but The Great gatsby was just stunning in 3D because Luhrmann knew how to compose for 3D. All the bad conversions are what’s killing the process. If the movie isn’t shot in native 3D, then don’t try to make it something it isn’t. 3D movies should be events, not just something tacked on after the fact to make a few extra bucks.

  • ProCynic

    Are they going to blame this also on Piracy?

  • Alicia

    James Cameron doesn’t do what James Cameron does for James Cameron.
    James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Cameron is
    James Cameron.

    Every time 3D interest is fading, he will be there… with another Avatar film. 3 more according to him. If he ever gets started on the second I’ll start to believe it.