Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Year Of 3D: A Massive Paradigm Shift Is Happening

Jim here. 2009 was always going to be "The Year Of 3D". Even a financial crisis around the world cannot hold it back and that is saying something. Despite credit drying up and trying economic times, people are flocking to the theater - and in particular 3D theaters.

The real numbers are spectacular. Take the current monster box office hit ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS - It will hit $152 million in domestic take this weekend.

Variety has a great piece about this - here is an excerpt (emphasis is mine):
"Overseas auds are proving every bit as willing as moviegoers in the U.S. to pay a premium for 3-D films. Of the 11,652 screens that "Dawn of the Dinosaurs" opened on, only 2,126 were 3-D screens, or 18%. Yet the 3-D playdates generated $51 million in ticket sales, or 34% of the total opening gross.

The dazzling overall results underscore the revenue potential of 3-D titles, as well as the value of a family franchises like Ice Age, of which "Dawn of the Dinosaurs" is the third installment.

"Dawn of the Dinosaurs" should ultimately gross more than any summer tentpole besides "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." It's already passing Sony's "Angels and Demons" ($334 million to date) and should soon overtake Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ($365.1 million to date).

Theater owners also say the return on the investment they made to install 3-D screens has been quicker than expected."

So ICE AGE is doing exceedingly well. Theater owners are finally seeing the polarized light and making more money. What about the other 3D movies?

Here are the leading 3D movies of the year so far:

- ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS - $152m Domestic / $362m Foreign / $514m World (Still Playing - 19 Days)
- MONSTERS VS. ALIENS - $198m Domestic / 176m Foreign / $374m World (112 Days)
- Pixar's UP - $279m Domestic / $48m Foreign / $327m World (Still Playing - 52 Days)
- CORALINE - $75m Domestic / $39m Foreign / $114m World (147 Days)
- MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D - $52m Domestic / $24m Foreign / $76m World (56 Days)

The biggest issue this year has been the lack of 3D screens and having to cut short successful 3D runs for the next release - a prime example was CORALINE being cut short by The Jonas Brothers concert movie which ultimately proved NOT to be another Hannah Montana windfall.

Now with theater owners realizing just how fast the return on investment will be for 3D screens, we are seeing more and more conversions - just in time for the fall and winter seasons.

We all know what happens when AVATAR hits on December 18 - and it will be the icing on the cake for The Year Of 3D. And will it ever taste sweet. The past few years have been full of debunking your standard movie journalist and blogger fodder of '3D is a gimmick or a fad' and finally - FINALLY - most are catching on that 3D is here to stay and is a welcomed improvement to how we view movies.

AVATAR is not the only big 3D movie coming out in the next several months - we also have G-FORCE, THE FINAL DESTINATION, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, TOY STORY 1 & 2 and A CHRISTMAS CAROL. All of which will find success.

But when James Cameron's epic 3D adventure AVATAR hits us, it is game over. PARADIGM SHIFT. We will see things that will leave us spellbound - think STAR WARS, THE MATRIX and JURASSIC PARK all wound up into an even greater story and universe. Then add the best stereographic 3D immersion possible from the master himself.

I can't think of a better way to cap off The Year Of 3D than by seeing records fall through AVATAR. Think TRANSFORMERS 2 made some money? Think again - AVATAR will have much better special effects (photo real!), better acting, better directing (Bay is still against shooting in 3D!) and a better story. Did I mention that it will have a better story? I don't think TF2 had a story really, other than Shia swapping out his "no, no, no, no, no" in favor of "go, go, go, go, go". But AVATAR has been in development for over a decade by one of the world's greatest storytellers.

It will be a very good year when all is said and done. The beauty of it is that we are just at the cusp of something truly wonderful. Spielberg and Jackson are coming. So is Ridley and Bruckheimer. So are many, MANY more. It is going to be a heckuva ride and I am ecstatic I have been in it since day one! And like I said, when AVATAR hits us... Shift Happens.

Stats courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.

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