Is 3D faltering?
Richard Greenfield of the Wall Street company BTIG has been an open sceptic of 3D in the film industry, and now he's spoken out and said that it is now beginning to hurt the industry, and he has some figures to back up his claim.
The most important figure is the percentage of box office takings from non-IMAX 3D screens, and comparing the recent release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with the same screen takings for Shrek Forever After and How to Train Your Dragon, and the drop is obvious.
It's well documented I'm not a fan of 3D, I've always thought it was a gimmick that had its place in some films but not all, and didn't deserve the recycled comparison that it was just like colour was in the past.
One of the reasons I've not taken to 3D, and I'm not counting the reason that I wear glasses and the shades are cumbersome, nor that most of the post production 3D is incredibly poor and is faking a 2D image into 3D, but it's something I've recently discovered, my astigmatism means I can't process 3D images correctly.
So that could be a reason why they don't always work with me, and that could account for thirty to forty percent of the population too, the amount of astigmatism sufferers out there, people who if 3D continues on the studio drive it's being pushed on, won't be able to see 2D films anymore even if they can't process 3D properly.
Perhaps that does make me a little bias, but it does scream that they need to retain 2D for those who can't properly process 3D as I'm sure it's not just astigmatisms that mean people can't interpret the images.
However the figures from analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG do go some way to suggest people are getting tired of 3D. His report is behind paid doors, but Deadline reveal a few interesting facts. The following figures are the percentage of box office takings for the opening weekends in non IMAX 3D cinemas - that means the normal 3D screens in your local cinema:
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - 38%
Shrek Forever After - 54%
How to Train Your Dragon - 57%
His report also states that pricing is the biggest problem, something I think we all knew already as the audience. In America the figures he quotes for Pirates are:
$14.85 - IMAX 3D
$10.85 - non-IMAX 3D
$7.60 - 2D
Now in the UK it's a little difficult to find a report of the average ticket cost, and the Cinema Exhibitor's Association claim as of February 21st of this year that the average cost of a ticket is "just over £5.40", that's not the case in Edinburgh. Here are current costs for our cinemas - note there's an IMAX in Glasgow and I'm taking prices for the two biggest cinemas in Edinburgh:
£9.95 - IMAX 3D
£10.40/£9.60 - non-IMAX 3D
£8.30/£7.20 - 2D
It does look like we're rather better off in the UK for the cost of the IMAX tickets, but there's still quite a cost for the 3D tickets, in fact in some cinemas here it's cheaper to go to the IMAX screening.
Greenfield also points out that in the US the kids behave much like my nephews do as he says that young children did not want to wear glasses - indeed watching How to Train Your Dragon (Filmstalker review) my youngest nephew had his glasses off for the entire film.
Finally he hits us with the most sensible statement that makes you realise he has nothing to do with the studios, since they are the ones telling us that we want 3D:
"Focus on making consumer-desirable films rather than worrying about the technology"
Brilliant. I've been saying that for a very long time, now there are some figures to back that up. Quality films first, not some standard half-arsed rubbish that's faked into 3D by an overseas technology company after the fact.
Is 3D on the decline? Well the figures certainly suggest so.