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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Have filmgoers seen through the 3D hype? Movie fans fed up with inflated cinema prices opt for traditional 2D screenings

It was hailed as the next big thing in cinema but it seems Britain’s 3D boom may be over before it really even began.

Film fans fed up with inflated prices and disillusioned by the lack of added value from watching many movies in the format, opted to stick with traditional 2D showings instead.

Little over a fifth of box office sales were for 3D films in 2011, compared to 27.5 per cent in 2010, according to new figures from global industry analysts Rentrak EDI.

It had been expected the 3D trend would soar after the success of James Cameron’ s epic Avatar, which made £615 million worldwide, with 90 per cent of the audience watching in HD, and the huge popularity of Toy Story 3.

But after an initial burst of interest it appears British cinema-goers don’t feel it represents value for money for every film.

The major cinema groups charge customers of 3D films up to 41 per cent more than those seeing standard films and many charge an additional £1 for the special glasses.

This means families of four face paying nearly £11 more to watch a film in 3D.

‘It is too early to say but it seems that people are being more discerning and making decisions on individual films, rather than simply watching everything in 3D,’ a spokesman for the BFI said.

Avatar and Toy Story 3 were huge hits in the format in the UK in 2010, grossing 67million and 73.8 million respectively.

By contrast the only standout 3D hit last year was the final film in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which was the final film in the franchise and grossed 73 million.
The rest of the 3D top five for 2011, which included Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, grossed under £30 million.

The research also showed that cinema firms, including Odeon and Cineworld, charge up to £1 per person on top of the ticket price to pay for 3D glasses.

A recent YouGov poll found that almost half of Britons thought the format was 'over-hyped and just a phase.'
Another reason for the slump in interest, is that 2011 saw a rise in the popularity of character-led films in Britain such as The Kings Speech, which made £45.7 million, and Bridesmaids, which made £23 million, and these do not need the special technology.

Daily Mail film critic Chris Tookey said that consumers have also wised up to the fact that sum of the '3D films' are simply a rip off.

He has said: ‘Hollywood has jumped on the 3D bandwagon and is driving it hell-for-leather.

The irony is that many of the 3D movies that cinema-goers are paying over the odds for aren’t really in 3D at all.’

He pointed to Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never Again, which actually on featured just 30 minutes of his concert in that format.

An additional problem is that some people feel unwell when watching in this format.

Around 10 per cent of the UK population has poor binocular vision, which means it is difficult for them to see 3D effects in movies and video games.

Instead, they see a blurry image, and will suffer headaches, eye strain and even nausea as a result.
Experts do not recommend allowing children under eight to regularly use 3D glasses because their eye muscles are still developing.

There are also question marks over whether 3D television will really take off, with some industry figures insisting that until a 'glasses-free, affordable' option is available it is unlikey to.

Some electronics manufacturers have issued disclaimers to protect themselves from legal claims warning that viewing 3D TV may cause ‘motion sickness’, ‘disorientation’ and ‘eye strain’.

Last year, Sir David Attenborough warned 3D television would not take off in Britain.

The veteran, whose documentary for Sky - Flying Monsters - was made in the format, insisted it would not become the norm for viewers because it was ‘too isolating’.

Instead Sir David said consumers would opt to watch ‘big events’ in 3D such as World Cup football matches, the forthcoming Royal Wedding, or ground-breaking new nature or history shows.


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