Surcharge to go over 25%, report says

Ticket prices for 3D pics are rising fast, as exhibitors nationwide are looking to get more bang for their buck.

Some circuits are hiking ticket prices by as much as 26% in anticipation of Paramount’s launch of 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon” on Friday, according to a survey released Wednesday by Wall Street media analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG.

Upcharge for 3D tickets has risen from an average extra $2-$3 to $3.50 or more in many cases, and even $5 in some theaters in such markets as Los Angeles and New York.

These numbers exclude Imax 3D ticket prices, which have always been significantly higher.

The hike in 3D prices will boost both returns to exhibs and distribs, with studios receiving 45% to 55% of total box office, depending on the film and how many weeks it has been playing.

Greenfield surveyed 10 theaters in different major U.S. markets, finding a 8.3% hike for 3D locations and an increase of 9.9% for 3D-equipped Imax screens. The cost for adult 3D tickets will increase to an average $14.73 from $13.60, whereas 3D Imax screens will cost adults an average of $16.63, up from $15.13.

At the AMC Loews Liberty Tree in Boston, the premium for Imax 3D screens is increasing from 38% to 66% more than 2D prices for adults, and 40% more for children.

“If consumers absorb the price increases without issue, we believe it bodes well for the pricing power of the movie exhibition industry,” said the report.

“It appears that each theater circuit has its own strategy related to price increases this weekend. Certain chains are raising prices across the board, some are focusing on the 3D ticket premium, and others are focusing only on raising adult ticket prices.”

On average, 3D ticket prices for the 10 theaters surveyed will see a $1.13 hike in adult 3D tickets and $1.50 for 3D-equipped Imax screens.

With the success of Disney’s 3D fantasy “Alice in Wonderland” (cuming $265.4 million as of Sunday) and 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar” (whose cume has topped $736 million domestically), it’s unclear how moviegoers will react to the increased prices.

Many AMC theaters across the country offered a special “Alice” upcharge of only $3.

Paramount will launch “Dragon” at 2,150 3D-equipped locations, with Imax committed to a six-week run at 185 domestic Imax locations and an additional 38 day-and-date location overseas. Domestically, location count for “Dragon” is approximately 4,000 runs.

Warner Bros. will roll out 3D offering “Clash of the Titans” on April 2.

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