American audiences are divided almost 50/50 over whether or not they’ll spend the extra few dollars to see a new release in 3D. When polled, some explained that they didn’t like the requisite 3D glasses, others said the technology made them nauseous. Still others were unimpressed by the hasty, cheaply-done 3D conversions by studios looking to cash in on what they saw as the 3D craze. “It just set the whole thing back,” said analyst Eric Wold, speaking with The Wrap. “Last year we were still dealing with that backlash.”
The Wrap reports that between 40 and 60 percent of U.S. box office returns come from the 3D versions of new films (around half of all moviegoers choose to see the regular, non-3D version). Elsewhere, that figure is as high as 90 percent. Russian and Chinese audiences are flocking to 3D films at a rate much higher than their American counterparts, and while the trend seems to have “stabilized” in America (according to a movie stats whiz at The Numbers), it continues to thrive elsewhere.
“In a lot of these markets, if you want to see a new film, you can go out on the street corner and buy a cheap copy,” one 3D industry insider told The Wrap, referring to the easily accessible bootlegged copies of new releases available in China. “But 3D is impossible to replicate.” (At least for now.) Also, in the eyes of Chinese film fans, 3D has something that American audiences don’t see: a cool factor. “In places like China, the blush is still on the rose,” said a 3D conversion studio exec. “It’s considered trendy and very hip, and all these theaters are desperate for 3D product.”
Sure, Jurassic Park 3D did fairly well at the box office last weekend, but despite 3D’s ability to entice audiences to once again shell out to see a 20-year-old movie, the technology is sometimes seem as a gimmick rather than an advancement that furthered the art of filmmaking. Vince Pace, another 3D technology industry expert, disagrees. “These films have contributed to making important statements in the world of cinematography. When done correctly, 3D can offer more than a theme park ride. It can bring across more emotion, more character, more of a sense of experience,” said Pace. So while the number of 3D films being released in North America has gone down, people like Pace seem to feel that fewer 3D films might actually mean better 3D films. Just don’t try to sell that argument to Danny Boyle.