3D boom drives digitization

Cinema Expo maintains focus on 3D explosion

AMSTERDAM — Delegates at this year’s Cinema Expo confab in Amsterdam talked at length about 3D evolution and some cited it as a means for digitizing cinemas around the world.

Speaking at a 3D seminar at the event, Maria Costeira, CEO of 3D group XpanD, suggested investment in 3D equipment would foot the bill for digital projectors in cinemas.

“We expect the 3D ticket premiums to pay for the digital installations,” she said. “3D has be digital so it’s not about trying to cover the cost of 3D, it’s about trying to cover the cost of digitization.”

She added that while premiums for 3D may begin to fade within the next five years, the rest of the ticket prices would rise accordingly to the level of 3D.

“It’s the commercial law of the market — prices do not go down,” Costeira said.

Gerard Buckle, vice prexy of business affairs at Odeon-UCI, told attendees that the exhib has seen a near three times uplift in overall business from 2D to 3D.

“It’s important in the future that we demand for 3D content to continue in a strong way,” he said. “We’re confident that we can sustain the 3D ticket price premium as well, but it’s something we’ll continue to look at on an annual basis.”

Costeira added that while the content has to be the “right 3D product,” she was confident that the rest of the box office prices will increase to match 3D ticket prices.

She added the format was here to stay, particularly due to the advent of the format in education and other areas of the entertainment industry.

“If you have your PlayStation in 3D, your TV in 3D, if your kids are going to learn in 3D at school, it’s going to be hard to convince the theatrical consumer to not watch movies in 3D.”

This year’s Expo found most delegates chinwagging about 3D’s rapid evolution. Boxes of 3D glasses sat at the entrance to the RAI Auditorium as studios offered attendees clips of upcoming films in their show reel presentations, a slew of which were in the 3D format.

Screen Digest said there was a 600% increase in 3D screens in Europe in 2009 and these big percentages, and big numbers were subject of many discussions at the event.

“Last year, we saw a near doubling of digital screens and the majority of that doubling was 3D screens,” said Michael Karagosian, prexy of MKPE consulting. “These numbers are quite stunning.”

And MCG Film & Media consultant Michael Gubbins added: “Everyone’s talking about big percentages and record-breaking numbers in 3D. It’s clear that 3D has moved from the theoretical to hardcore business reality incredibly quickly.”

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