Open Forum Friday: Are Audiences Losing Interest in 3-D Already?

I don’t think there is a movie-related topic that has been subject to more debate over the last year than 3-D. Avatar hyped the technology and then legitimized it, and we’ve been feeling the consequences ever since. Movies like Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans both made heaps of money at the box office thanks to the higher ticket prices, and many respectable directors have said that they truly think 3-D is the future of cinema. Still, some moviegoers remain skeptical, and an interesting chart popped up over on The Wrap this week that would seem to indicate that mainstream audiences are slowly cooling off on the idea of 3-D. Could the novelty be wearing off already?

The statistics in the chart show the percentage of opening weekend box office dollars that come from 3-D screenings, and curiously, the percentages seem to be dropping, which is certainly not something that I would expect. However, it is lacking a few of the year’s 3-D releases; Clash of the Titans in particular is missing, although 3-D supposedly accounted for only 52% of its opening weekend. Statistics can always be twisted around, but I do wonder if people are getting bored with the format since nothing as stunning as Avatar has come along this year. Perhaps Tron: Legacy will win people over again, but until then, the rest of the year’s 3-D films could continue to suffer. What do you think, are these stats completely bogus or is interest in 3-D actually fading? Are audiences rejecting it or are people just learning to pick and choose which movies they see in 3-D? Could 3-D die out before filmmakers tap into the full potential of this new technology? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

  • Sami

    I have lost interest in 3D myself! They aren’t really renovating the whole element of 3D and after a few minutes into the movie, you lose the fact that your actually watching 3D! I hope movies lost interest in 3D as well!

  • “Are Audiences Losing Interest in 3-D Already?”


  • The issue is paying over 12 dollars to see nothing or very little in the way of 3D effects other than adding depth to the movie most of the time (Avatar included) the actual 3D special effects are very few and far between. My family and I are waiting for reviews to start including wither or not the 3D is worth it or skip in and see the 2D version

  • Ok one more thing I had not seen the chart comparing the 3D opening numbers for those that have not see it see Dispicable Me in 3D it has much more to offer than Shrek, Airbender, or Toy Story.

  • David

    I haven’t lost interest in 3-D, so much as the theater owners have made it financially impractical. They got too greedy too quickly.

    3D for me initially was an extra incentive to catch it in the theater, instead of waiting for DVD. They mistook that reason to bring people back into the theater for an excuse to gouge us once we came back.

    I’ve got two kids, so with $5.00 sodas, $9.00 popcorn and prices for the tickets soaring, I have no choice but to go 2D, or not at all.

    And for me, if I’m going to see it in 2D I might as well wait for it to hit Netflix.

  • Death Rose

    Not necessarily. There are more 3d movies out right now than there were when Clash came out as a result 3d screens are more split between movies. A better comparison would be to compare the % gross from 3d screens to the % share of 3d screen and total gross of the movies.

  • Ovenball

    I agree with Death Rose that this statistic is skewed heavily by the number of 3D films in the marketplace and the competition for what is still a relatively limited amount of 3D equiped auditoriums.

    The theatre I manage played Clash of the Titans in 35mm 2D and we definately lost revenue to locations playing this show in Digital 3D over 50 miles away. It’s difficult to quantify the anecdotal evidence of disgusted looks from customers and endless phonecalls, but my gut tells me we didn’t gain anything by having a 2D print. This was a little suprising to me especially given the poor quality 3D in Clash of the Titans.

    Honestly, while the informed movie goer is likely changing their mind about 3D ticket prices and 3D movies, I think the revenue generators (the families with kids) don’t really care and parents will pay any price and travel a great distance just to get their kids to stop shouting their chorus of “Shrek 3D! Shrek 3D! Shrek 3D!”

  • Ben

    Dear gawd I hope so. 3D sucks.

  • Hugo

    Avatar, worked in 3D. Because it was filmed in 3D. Now it’s just greed. Adding 3D to movies after they are filmed. It’s like having a crappy car. Then you repaint it. Sure it may look ok for a little while. But, it’s still the same car.

    The good news is. That Thor has the chance to put the nail in the coffin. You can tell already. It’s going to be the sequel to Flash Gordon.

  • Big Hungry

    I am not a 3D hater when it is done right and so far very few have done it right and that is the issue. This might even kill the 3D tv. It is all about the quality of the content and making the 3D worth the extra cash.

    This has me thinking of brand new video game systems… I once had a 3DO and at the time It could pull off some of the best graphics at the time. However – just because the graphics are great this does not mean the game play will match up. There was maybe one game at launch with the system that was good with both gameplay and graphics. Most of the other games at system launch were crap with gameplay.

    So now that this system is old and tech has passed it a long time ago. You have a lot of horrible games for that old system that not only suck at gameplay but also now with old graphics… they look like crap now.

    To relate this back to movies>>> Star Wars (I-II-III) now has bad CG that is now passed up with new CG effects, and if the story was better we would have good movie today. Now all the 3D Movie Posers (retro fit a crappy story or hey lets make a 3D movie and worry about the story later) this is the issue. The studios rely more on the 3D for the sell rather than the story and 2D effects.

    I will pay more for a good 3D movie! Just not a crappy movie!

  • Brendan

    @Big Hungry: I had a 3DO too. That probably makes us about 50% of the 3DO market.
    That graph of the falling 3d stats is definitely misleading, like Sean stated it could be. The lack of Alice and Clash are pretty big omissions.
    First, look at the dates on each point of the graph. Casually glancing at it makes you think there’s supposed to be a relatively equal amount of time between the films, but it’s actually smaller and smaller increments from left to right:
    – Avatar to How To Train: 14 weeks
    – How To Train to Shrek: 8 weeks
    – Shrek to Toy Story: 4 weeks
    – Toy Story to Airbender: 2 weeks
    – Airbender to Despicable: 1 week
    Next, the actual drop in percentage is 26% from the oldest (Avatar) to current (Despicable), but the graph is chopped so that 46% is so close to the bottom that it looks like a bigger drop. The baseline for the graph is actually 40%, with the top being 80%, and those hash marks on the left are 10% increments.
    Lastly, the graph is only taking the percentages of revenue on OPENING WEEKEND from 3D screens, not for the entire run of the film. So we don’t know what percentage of each film’s total revenue was from 3D, only their first weekend.

  • Toy Story 3 made me interested in 3D again. But won’t make me see a movie more than I already wanted to.

  • Maopheus

    The problem is that the movies that have been released since Avatar are not movies that have been filmed or (in the case of the animated ones) conceived to be 3-D from the beginning. So it is no wonder that 3-D ticket sales have steadily declined because the movies since Avatar have not provided anything worth seeing in 3-D. It was not a necessary part to the enjoyment of the movie. Until another movie comes out that was filmed using Avatar’s 3-D technology or a similar format I think 3-D will continue to be a gimmick, just as it has always been. And like I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as long as 3-D is an illusory manipulation of a 2-D image, 3-D will not be true 3-D.

  • MikeInSacramento

    3D is just unnecessary, even when done right. In Avatar, sure it was cool how it added depth, but did it really add to the overall experience? Did I need that extra depth in order to enjoy or not enjoy the movie? Did it make any difference at all?

    Also, the price point is a major sticking point. I am not seeing a different movie then people seeing it in 2D, so why am I paying up to $4 more per ticket?

  • MikeInSacramento

    It’s kind of ironic because I find the best 3D to be the 3D that is used merely as a gimmick in horror movies such as Final Destination and oh I forgot the other one, but it was a remake.

    Those movies tend to use 3D as a fun gimmick, they make no bones about it and are just merely trying to use it as a vehicle of entertainment.

  • Doug Henning’s Bastard Son


    Everyone knows magic is better anyway, right Greg ?

  • Has anyone at all mentioned the tighter 3-D release window? “Avatar” had every 3-D location to itself for about 3 months, and both “Alice” and “Titans” had a pretty decent chunk of time to themselves (no mention of “Dragon” anywhere?), but now we’re seeing several 3-D features released within very short windows of one another, like even just a week or 2. I guarantee you that they’re having to share screens on opening weekend with 3-D movies that are already there, which takes a bite out of the percentage. I made a similar comment under the podcast article where I elaborate a little more.

  • Toy Story 3 is only surviving because the public, after hearing about The Last Airbender’s short conversion time, chose to see Airbender in 2D.

  • Xidor

    I don’t like 3D as much because I am really lazy and with the 3D, you have to look all over the screen and it is exhausting. I saw “Dial M For Murder” by Hitchcock in 3D and that was fine because most of the movie took place in an Apartment, so you didn’t have to burn precious calories thinking that you were flying like a Dragon or Blue Alien.