If you only listened to the press about 3D, you’d think it was about to go the way of the dodo bird — for at least the second time. But exhibitors say media coverage of 3D doesn’t begin to tell the real story. Since exhibs see what’s happening in theaters firsthand,Variety asked some to name the biggest media myths about 3D.
- “3D is dead or dying.”
Just because ticket sales for 3D movies are down from last year, that absolutely doesn’t spell the beginning of the end of 3D, says Greg Marcus, CEO of Marcus Theaters. “I don’t think 3D is going away any time soon. What we’re really seeing is that 3D is settling into what will be the normal level of ticket sales for that format when there’s a movie that the audience wants to see in 3D.”
- “Each time a big 3D movie fails, it’s just another nail in the coffin.”
When a 3D movie flops, it rarely has anything to do with 3D. It’s more likely that the movie was just plain awful, says Jeff Kaufman, senior VP of film and film marketing for Malco Theaters. “The audience isn’t stupid, and they know that a bad movie isn’t going to be made better by 3D,” he says. “When the movie is terrible, you could show it in 10 dimensions — never mind 3D — and people still wouldn’t go see it.”
- “Any problem today means bigger trouble to come.”
When 3D glasses don’t work perfectly every time, tons of ink is spilled reporting on the problem. Predictions of doom and gloom are fast to follow. But the reality of the situation is completely different from Marcus’ vantage point, and there’s almost no coverage when problems are solved. “You have to keep in mind that 3D is really about an evolution in exhibition — not a revolution,” Marcus says. “And this process means there will be bumps in the road as we retool things and try to figure out the best way to bring 3D to audiences.”
- “It’s all about 3D when you’re trying to lure audiences into theatERs.”
Early on the press crowned 3D the new king of exhibition. But 3D was never going to be the sole savior of exhibition, says John Ellison, COO of UltraStar Cinemas. You actually need a fantastic film to fill theater seats. “We all keep talking about ‘Avatar’ because it was the perfect combination of an event movie with a great story that had incredible 3D,” Ellison says. “It made the best use of the technology while never forgetting the one thing that you must do if you want people to see your movie — you must be entertaining.”
- “Upcharges will kill you.”
Journalists and moviegoers both gripe about upcharges. But everyone pays them when they think they’ll have a great time. Just take a look at the box office receipts for “Avatar” and you’ll know how quickly audiences will open their wallets for a premium experience. Ellison thinks reasonable upcharges are fine — if you earn them. The backlash will only burn you when the movie doesn’t deliver. “We’re showing movies in 3D with D-Box motion seat technology, so when someone comes to see a movie that way they’re paying two upcharges,” Ellison says. “People keep spending money with us because they think that the experience is worth the money.”
MONDAY Oct. 24
8:30 a.m. International Distribution and Marketing Presentations. Presentations from Paramount Pictures Intl., Sony Pictures Releasing Intl., Twentieth Century Fox Intl., Universal Pictures Intl., Warner Bros Pictures Intl.
1:45 p.m. Keynote: Monique Esclavissat, exec VP, Warner Bros. Pictures Intl., with International Day Awards Ceremony.
5:45 Opening Night Party
TUESDAY Oct. 25
8:30 a.m. Breakfast & Seminar: “How Facebook iss Helping to Drive Patrons to the Movies.” Speaker: Matt Jacobson, head of business development, Facebook.
10:00 a.m. Specialty Showcase. Presentations from Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Pantelion, Roadside Attractions and the Weinstein Co.
WEDNESDAY Oct. 26
1:00 Hall of Fame Luncheon
5:00 p.m. Screening: “The Adventures of Tintin”
9:00 Screening: “Man on a Ledge”
THURSDAY Oct. 27
10:30 a.m. Screening: “Carnage”
4:15 p.m. Screening: “The Descendants”
8:15 Banquet and Award Ceremony
Five 3D myths that will not die
Show “E” Award: Jim Amos | Al Shapiro Distinguished Service Award: John C. Hall | Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award: Kurt Hall | ShowEast Hall of Fame 2011