Sure, you’ll happily go and watch 3D movies in theaters now, but would you be as eager to do so if you had to pay for the special stereoscopic glasses each time you went? That’s now a possibility, following news that Sony will stop paying for the glasses, necessary to view their 3D releases, starting in May 2012.
Currently, studios pay somewhere between $1.5 million and $10 million per movie for 3D glasses, depending on the scale of the release, passing some of that cost on to the moviegoer via increased ticket prices. Sony’s refusal to continue to pay for the glasses after May 1, 2012 effectively forces theater owners to foot the bill for the specs from that point on (for Sony releases, at least), which could mean owners passing the cost on to customers.
Sony worldwide president of distribution Rory Bruer told The Hollywood Reporter that “this is an issue that has to be resolved between us and our exhibition partners,” adding that Sony is “trying to give them a very lengthy lead time in regards to the change in policy.” Sony isn’t the first studio to try moving away from paying for the glasses; Fox made an attempt some time ago, but abandoned plans based on exhibitor resistance to the idea.
Sony has two major 3D movies already scheduled for next year: The Amazing Spider-Man and Men in Black 3. Audiences may want to brace to see those movies in 2D, just in case.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.