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IMAX to migrate away from 3D in favor of 2D showings

In 2009 a movie called AVATAR busted the box office thanks to its mind-blowing use of 3D, effectively kicking-starting a revolution with the format. Every studio was working hard to put everything from superhero blockbusters to camp horror movies in 3D, and even though the gimmick wore thin quickly, the trend marches on. But one company – IMAX Entertainment– has decided to get with the times, and has recently announced they plan to migrate away from plastic glasses.

The announcement came yesterday (via The Wrap) when the theater company released disappointing second-quarter earnings, with IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster saying how they will begin to shift away from 3D in hope of reinvigorating the business. One example Foster mentioned was the recent success of Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK, a movie that showed across IMAX screens in bright, reliable 2D:

It’s worth noting ‘Dunkirk’ was showing exclusively in 2-D, which consumers have shown a strong preference for. We’re looking forward to playing fewer 3-D versions of films and more 2-D versions.

Indeed, DUNKIRK opened to $50 million over the weekend, and almost 25 percent of that amount came from IMAX screens. The movie was shot in IMAX and Nolan himself encouraged people to watch the movie in the format it was intended to be seen in. The upcoming sci-fi film, BLADE RUNNER 2049, will also be exclusively shown in 2D on IMAX screens.

The drop in 3D appreciation does not only affect the IMAX business. The MPAA recently put out a report citing an 8 percent drop in 3D film attendance, even with mega hits from Disney all coming in the 3D format. This report is more shocking taking into account that 2016 saw a record of 68 films being released in 3D – notables including JUNGLE BOOK, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and ROGUE ONE. One of the biggest movies of last year – DEADPOOL – was not in 3D, and grossed an impressive $783 million globally. A similar non-3D blockbuster this year was LOGAN, which made $616 million.

In time, I believe this will prove a terrific move by IMAX, a strategy that is actually quite admirable. They want to give people the experience they want, and not one the studios want to shove down their throat. I know from personal experience that 3D generates little interest in moviegoers. Putting aside my own preference for 2D, having worked at a movie theater I got to analyze the pattern of moviegoers, and the findings are quite simple: people hate 3D. If a showing in 2D was sold out, but plenty of nearby 3D showings were still open, people would rather wait until more 2D times were open. The added surcharge, uncomfortable glasses and darker visuals make for an experience that simply isn’t worth it.

Very few movies belong in 3D and yet the onslaught of three-dimensional films is unrelenting. This is because the cost of 3D conversion is minimal on studios, and the extra ticket prices mean more money even with the slightest 3D attendance. Studios know you’ll pay the price because what are you gonna do, not see the movie in theaters like some chump? If people like 3D, fine, but it should be treated as a side offering and not in equal amounts as 2D. I say this not because I enjoy 2D movies more, but because I can't imagine the aliens look kindly upon people when they see us in those glasses.

DUNKIRK is in theaters now, in glorious 2D.

Source: The Wrap

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