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Hollywood Fears 3-D Movies Losing Steam at the Box Office

by on May 31, 2011

The New York Times reports that Hollywood studios and analysts are taking note of poor performance of several recent high-profile film releases in 3-D, triggering fears that the audience is beginning to reject the technology (and its box-office boosting ticket surcharges) on the eve of a summer filled with 3-D releases. Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides and DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 opened to weaker box office results than their predecessors, but also sold far fewer tickets to 3-D screenings. While 3-D ticket sales typically account for 60% of a movie’s box office take, 3-D tickets represented only 47% of the Pirates sequel’s ticket sales and an estimated 45% of Kung Fu Panda 2’s box office.

The article also notes consumer rebellion over high 3-D ticket prices in a weak economy, the novelty wearing off on domestic audiences, high demand for 3-D overseas (where it is still a newer phenomenon), and the opinion that 3-D can help a top performer like James Cameron’s Avatar or Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but can undercut a middling movie attempting to milk the format for a box office boost. The article also notes that the animated features released so far this year have not been performing as well as hoped.

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