With a full slate of 3-D releases coming out, the push is on to grow the 3-D theatre footprint. Small exhibitors, who have largely felt left out in the digital transition, have spotted the investment opportunity. With larger exhibitors largely sitting on the sidelines, 3-D allows small exhibitors to attract audience away from their larger brethren. Moving Image Technologies, a Barco dealer, has been holding 3-D sales seminars for small exhibitors, and reports a high percentage of attendees signing up.
Overseas, even the large exhibitors are jumping in. Cineworld, Odeon, and Vue in the UK together plan to install several hundred 3-D systems. It appears that NEC was behind these deals, in much the same way that NEC was behind the Digital Link II deals from Real D and Ballantyne in the US. In addition, of the original 240 screens financed by the UK Film Council, most are now 3-D. According to Phil Clapp, Chief Executive at the UK’s Cinema Exhibitor Association (CEA), there will soon be 550 3-D screens in the UK, over 10% of screens.
A big incentive for this push has been Dreamwork’s upcoming release of Monsters vs Aliens. Katzenberg is encouraging a $5 ticket premium for the movie, which, once established, could become the new norm for 3-D ticket pricing. This, combined with the slate of 3-D movies over the next two years, should pay off these systems. The challenge will then be to convert the rest to digital.