What is going on with 3D cinema ticket sales figures?
I’ve read multiple sources of information, trying to distill whether 3D is a rocketing success or a dismal failure. Some people’s views are at either end of the spectrum. I guess, like anything in life, there are “fanboys” and “haters”. Let’s see if we can sift the wheat from the chaff and work out what’s going on.
Firstly, there’s the interesting fact that 3D cinema ticket sales for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 On Stranger Tides in the USA have only captured 47% of total ticket sales compared to 61% for Shrek Forever After and 68% for How To Train Your Dragon (figures are for regular 3D and 3D Imax combined). The data, from analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research, prompted him to say that 3D was fading due to the higher ticket prices, 3D fatigue and the fact that kids don’t like to wear the 3D glasses.
To throw more data into the mix, Jeremy Playle, Sales Director at DCM told Techradar that in the UK, admissions to 3D screenings of “Pirates 4” were 34% higher than 2D screenings, despite the price difference.
OK, so what do we make of all this data?
Firstly, we need to consider that the USA and UK are different markets. It may be that in the USA the 3D cinema market is becoming saturated, but in the UK we may have a way to go before that point is reached. It’s interesting to note that in China 85% of takings for “Pirates 4” were from the 3D version, and for Russia is was 71% (source), so there is most definitely a strong geographical component to how well 3D is doing at movie theatres.
It seems to me, that comparing 3D ticket sales for “Pirates 4” to “Shrek” and “Dragon” is probably unfair as you’re comparing certificate PG films with a 12A which skews the comparison. Although, it is true that other 3D movies had higher percentages of people choosing to watch the 3D version such as Avatar (71 percent), Alice In Wonderland (70%), TRON:Legacy (82%), Thor (60%) and The Green Hornet (69%) (source). So why was Pirates at just 46%? Well, there are two strong possible reasons. Firstly, Disney didn’t choose to emphasise the fact that Pirates was a 3D movie shot in 3D, so cinema goers may have thought that the 3D was a low-grade conversion. Secondly, this is the fourth Pirates movie and all others have been in 2D only, so the audience would’ve been expecting a 2D movie. By way of comparison it’ll be interesting to see how the final Harry Potter film fares in 3D, seeing as all the previous films have been 2D.
The fact that 3D ticket sales are holding up for the international market seems to indicate that pricing isn’t an issue. I can’t see that the UK market being happy to pay much higher prices for the 3D version of the movie while in the USA people said no. I think it’s more likely to be the factors listed above.
When taken as a whole it seems that there may be an element of 3D movie fatigue in the USA, which isn’t showing up in the UK or other international markets. Movie studios may want to bear in mind that it’s important to emphasise that a movie was filmed in 3D and is worth seeing in 3D as well as not get greedy with the ticket prices, especially if they want to see the 3DTV market grow rapidly and sell many copies of their movies on BluRay 3D.
What do you think?