Yesterday we covered a story about James Cameron’s remarks at the TagDF conference in Mexico City in which he claimed, “I do not think Hollywood is using the 3-D properly.” As the numbers come in from this weekend’s box office, it is becoming clear that audiences are also not responding well to recent 3-D formats.
Though Despicable Me 2 earned over $143 million over the long 4th of July weekend, Universal is reporting that only 27 percent of its gross came from 3-D tickets. This is the lowest 3-D share in modern box office history. Despicable broke the record low held by Monsters University just two weeks earlier, which opened at only a 31 percent share.
Typically, 3-D tickets for the last two years make up about 40% of blockbuster films’ box office. According to BoxOfficeMojo, in 2011 and 2012, 3-D ticket sales stabilized at $1.8 billion. But this is nothing compared to the format in 2009 and and 2010. In its heyday, 3D tickets accounted for 71 percent share of Avatar, 70 percent for Alice in Wonderland, and an astonishing 82 percent for Tron Legacy. This accounts for the unprecedented 36 3-D wide releases in 2012.
But this year’s numbers so far indicate that the audience are loosing interest in post-production 3D conversion. Another from this summer is World War Z, which only made 34 percent of its gross from ticket sales. And it appears that overindulgence of studios to convert films in order to make a profit is affecting even steroscoptic film shot in 3-D. The whole point of redoing the Great Gatsby was the 3-D presentation, according to Baz Lurman. But 3-D tickets accounted for only 33% of its sales.
Even the 3-D technology in the home entertainment market is flailing. 3-D ready TV sales are dropping, and The San Francisco Chronicle reports that BBC is terminating is 3-D broadcasting after a two year experiment. As James Cameron is warning us, the studios are turning 3-D into a novelty; and that novelty is wearing off. With Cameron currently in pre-production for the Avatar sequels, it will be fascinating to watch the industry change before their planned releases in 2015.