3D Novelty On The Wane For Film-Goers

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Anyone who is forced to shell out £40-50 to go to the movies with their children will find UK box offices figures for the first half of 2011 no surprise. While stats from Rentrak EDI show that overall box office revenues rose 5.6% year-on-year to £545 million (the movies are still a lot of fun after all), 3D revenues were down by a massive 21%.

While the headline figure has been boosted by titles like The King’s Speech and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the 3D slump suggests that the novelty of the new format is wearing off. With 3D versions often adding little or nothing to the 2D version, consumers are baulking at paying the extra £2-3 that major movie chains put on 3D tickets.

To some extent, the fact that 3D revenues are down from £152.1m to £120m can be explained away by 2010’s extraordinary success of Avatar and Alice In Wonderland. But evidence of waning interest is the fact that Pirates only took 60% of its revenue in 3D (compared to 76% for Alice). Lacklustre 3D performances from Rio and Kung Fu Panda 2 confirm the impression that consumers are getting more selective (a trend inevitably reinforced by the downturn).

3D is likely to see something of a fight back in H2 2011 because of the final installment of Harry Potter. But analysts will be looking closely at that film’s numbers to see if there is any further indication that 3D is losing its aura.

The UK box office numbers are the second piece of discouraging news for the 3D lobby in recent weeks. In June, research from Informa Telecoms & Media suggested the 3DTV would struggle to take off. "3D TV has the backing of the major UK broadcasters like Sky and Virgin, and most recently the BBC," explained Adam Thomas, senior analyst at IT&M. "But public reaction has been mixed, due to both a lack of content and a simple failure of the public to engage."