Theatre Chains Jacking Up the Prices on 3-D Movies

Brownie, yer doin' a heckuva job:

Beginning today, the Wall Street Journal reports that many major movie chains, including Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Holdings Inc. and AMC Entertainment Inc., are raising prices for 3-D movie tickets. It reflects the steepest price increase in a decade. 3-D ticket prices are rising by as much as 26% in some areas, though the average increase will be closer to 8%. The average increase for IMAX screens is 10%. Some theaters in metropolitan areas will be charging nearly $20 for IMAX admissions.

It's almost like Hollywood is daring us to download their movies for free. Remember when the music industry charged $20 for a Compact Disc?

At this moment in history, you couldn't pay me to be a Hollywood executive. Once enough kids figure out they can download Transformers 2 in a matter of minutes, instead of paying $15 at the multiplex....


Eishagishi said...

And these theaters are also raising the price of 2D showings as well, so that the "spread" between 2D and 3D prices won't look so large. Arg!

I suspect there'll be a rollback soon on this whole 3D thing. The last several times 3D has been brought out, it was received as a gimmick, and a pain-in-the-eyes one at that, for both the customers and the theater owners.

People still just don't like having to wear glasses to watch a movie, no matter how "fashionable" the current glasses are touted to be. And it doesn't help that most 3D films are entirely forgettable once the 3D novelty wears off (we'll see if the re-tweaked Avatar has any legs when it gets re-released this summer).

One thing that 3D may have going for it this time around is the technology of digital presentation. Once a theater converts to D-Cinema, things like 3D are very easy to implement compared to 35mm film. The promises of many more future 3D titles from the studios are being used as a selling point to get theaters to pay for replacing film with D-Cinema presentation.

D-Cinema is slowly growing, but so far it is still rather expensive per screen for theaters to implement this, while the cost benefits of D-Cinema largely go to the studios and distributors. Also theaters will then be saddled with much shorter equipment lifetimes, with endless hardware and software upgrades and future compatibility issues compared to film. There are still many upgraded 80-year-old 35mm film projectors out there cranking away for happy audiences.

And (I know I sound like an obsolete unemployable old guy saying this) film still looks better... when properly presented (big caveat there). Picture resolution and contrast and color gamut on film still surpass D-Cinema. Properly presented, a print with 1000 runs on it can look just as good as it did on opening day. Too bad most theaters can't (or refuse to) achieve that standard. It only takes one handling mistake or equipment failure to permanently damage and thereafter compromise the image and sound quality of a film print.

D-Cinema has the advantage of consistent, if slightly lower, picture quality - the 1000th playback will look as good as the first... as long as there are no system crashes or glitches. There are still too many stories of BSODs and cancelled shows being heard, even at this point in the evolution of D-Cinema.

D-Cinema also has the advantage of lossless uncompressed sound on more channels compared to the most commonly heard Dolby Digital tracks (with or without EX encoding) on film. New-to-D-Cinema theaters will eventually upgrade their sound and add surround channels to take advantage of this.

Back to 3D. Many in the industry quietly figure this wave of 3D enthusiasm will be just that - a wave, another fad, that will crest then ebb just like the previous 3D waves. We'll see then how this will affect the rate of the continuing expansion of D-Cinema.

Ja ne,


Sean L. said...

Today, I went to see "How to Train Your Dragon" in 3-D and my ticket cost $17.50. Seventeen dollars and fifty freaking cents. It's just getting crazy. I mean, the movie was great, but what if it hadn't been? What a waste, right? This is why I can't afford to see movies very much. But I refuse to pirate them, for various reasons (such as, it's piracy). I am worried for the art and industry of film, though. Fewer people are going to see movies, especially with these discouraging prices. And the 3-D trend makes movies too much about the spectacle over the story. Anyway, this is kind of a pointless comment, but I wanted to contribute something because I continue to enjoy your blog, Daniel. Keep it up!

Stephanie said...

It was $20 for two tickets for us to see HTTYD in 3-D($15 in 2-D). It's neat but what bothers me is that they charge you more and give you the glasses each time- why can't you just re-use them? I know they have "recycling" bins for them.. what are they doing? Melting them down or just repackaging them? Either way it's a waste of money and resources. I saw the movie in 2-D as well and it was just as enjoyable.
I hope you'll consider blogging about HTTYD. According to the artbook, they took a little inspiration from Miyazaki as far as the inorganic being combined with the organic (the dragon with the fabricated fin, etc.) And Sanders has alluded to Ghibli before in Lilo and Stitch. I think this is just as- if not MORE- worthy of blogging than pixar stuff. Especially since that jerk, Lasseter, fired Sanders from Disney. I'm hoping this film is a slap in the face to him.. hoping he will realize how much talent he lost by giving Sanders the boot.

Eishagishi said...

At theaters, plastic or glass 3D eyewear is "recycled" for health reasons. One of the additional costs of 3D is the extra labor and machines (similar to restaurant-grade dish washing machines) needed to distribute, collect, clean, and repackage 3D glasses before they can be used again.

Cardboard 3D glasses don't have this issue as they are treated as throwaways. The only added expense is purchasing and stocking them, like blank ticket stock or snack bar supplies.

As for Lasseter and Sanders, it's true that Disney closed the Florida 2D shop after Lilo & Stitch, but I thought that happened long before Lasseter came aboard as anything other than a Disney board member.


Stephanie said...

Lasseter fired Sanders from the BOLT production because, from what I gather, his ideas for bolt were too out there and he refused to back down. So now Bolt is your run-of-the-mill generic crappy looking disney characters (some are downright hideous- like the cat and hamster) with the shell of Sander's original premise, but lots of useless, empty crap and stupid jokes for filler.

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