More Bad News for 3D

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A pair of new studies paint a dreary picture for 3D, both in movie theaters and at home.

First up, a survey by research firm BTIG found that only 36 percent of moviegoers chose the 3D version of The Green Lantern, accounting for 45 percent of box office revenue.

That makes The Green Lantern the third major 3D release in a row to fall below the 50 percent revenue line, as Home Media Magazine points out. (The other two are Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides and Kung Fu Panda, with 37 percent and 45 percent of revenue in 3D, respectively.)

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The other bit of research looks to 3D’s future at home. According to Informa Telecoms & Media, 11 million homes will have 3D TVs by 2016, but less than half of those homes will regularly watch 3D content.

“We do not share the view that 3D represents the obvious next evolutionary step for TV, in the same way that colour followed black and white, or HD is following SD,” Informa concluded.

I don’t believe anyone can flawlessly predict what will happen with technology five years from now, but Informa’s theory seems plausible, especially considering what’s happening in theaters. 3D TV in the home is getting cheaper, which means more consumers will start tacking on 3D as an extra feature. But that doesn’t mean they’ll turn to 3D content on a consistent basis.

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As the cooling reception to theatrical 3D shows, people don’t always want to slip on a pair of heavy glasses and trick their eyes for a couple of hours. It takes a special kind of movie — say, Tron: Legacy, which generated 70 percent of its theater revenue from 3D — to get that kind of commitment. The same will be true at home as the amount of available 3D content grows.

I’m not convinced that 3D is uniformly bad, but there is a lot of bad to middling 3D content out there. Consumers are realizing that and adjusting their behavior accordingly.