In 2010, the number of 3D screens in Blighty more than doubled, as the U.K.’s top three exhibs — Odeon, Cineworld and Vue Entertainment — bulked up.

According to figures from analyst IHS Screen Digest, there were 1,065 digital 3D screens in the U.K. at year’s end compared to 449 screens in 2009.

Investment in digital and 3D technology is continuing at a rapid pace in 2011, with an average of 72 new screens being converted to 3D each month. There were 1,280 digital 3D screens in Blighty at the start of April, equivalent to more than a third of the territory’s total.

Screen Digest senior analyst Charlotte Jones forecasts that 3D penetration will continue to increase up to 45% in Blighty in 2011.

Exhibitors have also shown some interest in alternative 3D content, including performances of “Carmen” and “Madam Butterfly” from the Royal Opera House and key sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in 2010. Sony, in partnership with Arqiva, will screen the 2011 Wimbledon tennis finals on 3D screens.

“Only a small but growing proportion of the U.K.’s 3D cinemas are equipped with the necessary capabilities to meet all requirements for live 3D,” says Jones.

“But this is likely to be the next growth area for premium content that has already proven popular in live 2D.”