Hollywood has clearly benefitted from the impact of higher ticket prices 3D movies can generate at the megaplex. Now studios and electronics makers are ready to boost their bottom lines with sales of those same films for 3D TVs at home.
In fact, “Nov. 16 has become Blu-ray 3D day for the industry,” Kris Brown, Warner Home Video’s VP of worldwide high-def market expansion, told attendees of the Digital Entertainment Group’s annual Blu-Con symposium on Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton.
On that date, at least 10 movies will bow on the new Blu-ray 3D format, including “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” “Clash of the Titans,” “The Polar Express,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Open Season” and three Imax titles, including “Deep Sea 3D” and “Space Station 3D.” The first porn title, “Erotek Dimensions 3D,” also hits the market at that time.
Of the new titles that will hit the market in two weeks, six will come from Warner Bros. alone.
The move gives the biz 10 days to promote Blu-ray 3D before Black Friday, one of the busiest days of the year to buy electronics and the content to play on them.
By the end of the year, 36 films will be available. While some will be bundled with new TV sets, 24 will be sold individually on Blu-ray 3D.
That won’t include “Avatar,” whose 3D disc will be bundled with Panasonic hardware, nor Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which Sony Electronics has locked down to sell its TV sets. The 3D version of “Avatar” won’t be released until next year, although the “Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray bows Nov. 16.
Entertainment biz, especially hardware companies, have had to deal with a chicken-or-the-egg scenario when it comes to rolling out 3D for the home. Sales of TV sets this summer were slower than expected, primarily because program-ming wasn’t yet available.
But that could start to change as the first 3D TV channels, and now lineup of 3D Blu-ray discs, start to roll out.
“You have to make the content available to drive hardware sales,” Brown said.
The size of the market is considerable, execs says, with 25 million people considering buying a new HDTV in the coming months.
But 3D’s biggest cheerleaders still face a challenge in educating consumers on how the format will play at home. The move to get them to embrace 3D comes as households are still making the transition from DVD to Blu-ray. Introducing a new version of a format they’re just now getting familiar with could lead to confusion.
To help make the transition easier, hardware makers stress that they still need to do a better job at spreading the message that 3D TVs are backward compatible and can play traditional 2D movies and other programming.
There’s also the need to make 3D glasses more attractive. Most consumers who are holding off on investing in 3D say it’s because of the need to wear glasses while viewing programming.