3D Screens About To Be Stretched Thin

Posted February 16th, 2010 at 11:34 am

With all the discussion about how 3D is taking off and studios jumping on the bandwagon its easy to overlook that theaters still have not converted enough screens to handle demand for more than one new film at a time. The most recent count was approximately 3400 3D screens nationwide out of nearly 40,000 total screens.

The cost of converting, being upwards of $100K per screen, has caused hesitation in the past with uncertainty that it would be worth the investment. However leading up to the release of Avatar (and now especially after its success) theater owners have been making a more concerted effort to meet the oncoming demand. About 250 screens are being added each month.

Beginning in March the strain on theaters will be evident. Alice in Wonderland opens up on on the 5th and is expected to do big business. The problem there is that Avatar is still going strong and will be up for Best Picture at the Oscars that very weekend. If it wins there will be yet another boost behind it for the week or two after. So Avatar will remain in a decent number of 3D theaters in preparation for that.

When Clash of the Titans was announced as converting to 3D, head of Dreamworks Jeffrey Katzenberg was furious and lashed out against the decision. His How to Train Your Dragon opens up on March 26th and was expected to have clear sailing.

Now just a couple months out from release WB dropped the bomb that Titans would be in 3D as well and open just a week after Dragon. That will severely cut into the potential that it has with Titans siphoning away screens after only a week. As of April 2nd there will be four 3D movies out, and though Avatar and Alice will be fading they will still command some presence.

There are currently 20 more 3D movies expected to release through the rest of 2010 with additional ones likely to be announced at a later date. As the year goes on more screens will be converted as theaters attempt to catch up to demand. Despite this it will still be interesting to see how well they can handle November when three huge movies in Megamind, Tangled, and Harry Potter all release in 3D.

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