3D faces hurdles in Latin America

Price, service, fees and locations hamper wholesale adoption

A glut of 3D pics has exhibs racing to build more 3D screens in Latin America. Out of some 10,000 screens in the region, only about 600 are 3D-equipped. “Equipment suppliers are struggling to keep up with the demand,” says Universal Latin America’s distribution/marketing VP Mauricio Duran, who estimates that region-wide digital screen conversion will occur in three to five years.

Outlandish taxes and duties plus logistical issues involving service and parts make it an uphill battle for many exhibs. “It’s also a continuous struggle to get virtual print fees (VPFs) and digital rollout contracts,” says Mauricio Duran, prexy of Cinemark Intl., which runs 105 3D screens out of its 1,066 screens in the region.

Distribs are railing against VPFs, which average $700 per digital screen in contrast to a one-time fee of around $1,000 for a 35mm 2D print that can be relayed to various screens. Cost is also a problem.

“A 3D projector system costs 11 times more than a 35mm one,” says Claudio Sanchez, marketing director of Mexico City circuit Cinemex, which has installed 114 3D systems to date.

So it’s no wonder that the average ticket price for 3D can range from 35% to even 100% higher than normal.

— Anna Marie de la Fuente

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