3D movies drive box office sales

2010 marked the tipping point for 3D movies - in terms of public interest and acceptance. According to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, at a time when overall worldwide ticket sales are decreasing, 3D sales are helping to increase the industry's revenue - in fact, 3D ticket sales are currently accounting for some 50%-70% of industry revenue.

This high percentage of sales is partly accounted for by the premium that can be charged on tickets for 3D features, and partly on the higher percentage of tickets sold for 3D. For example, over opening weekends, movies such as "Step Up" have been earning 84% of their revenue from 3D, when compared to earlier movies such as "Avatar" at 80% and "Final Destination: Death Trip" at 73%.

Increased UK takings

In the UK, box office takings last year increased by 8% to a total of £1.076 billion on the back of the success of 3D releases such as "Toy Story 3" and "Alice in Wonderland". The UK's 725 cinemas have some 3,650 screens, of which around 700 have digital projection systems, most of which can show 3D films.

Asia outstrips even the US

If you want to see the most dramatic growth from the 3D movie phenomenon, you need to look east. In Hong Kong, the first half of 2010 saw box office receipts increase by 20%, while ticket sales were actually down by 2%. In South Korea, the story was similar, with a 15% increase in revenue on 4% fewer admissions.

The biggest growth of all, of course, was in China. Box office takings doubled year-on-year, with "Avatar" alone accounting for 60% of the increase. Premium priced tickets for "Alice in Wonderland" and "Clash of the Titans" also made significant contributions. In Japan, box office revenues increased by 7.7% on an admissions rise of just 0.6%.

'True 3D' or 2D to 3D conversion?

The worldwide success of "Avatar" has appeared to whet the appetite of audiences for movies that have been conceived as a 3D experience, rather than made as a 3D version of what was originally conceived as a 2D movie.

There are reports that filmgoers have been put off going to 3D movies which have been converted in post-production, but are they taking account of the care of conversion? A rushed conversion will give audiences a poor experience as there are many technical factors to keep in balance when creating the 3D effect. Pushing your footage through an automatic conversion will not make a perfect 3D version of the director's vision.

Conceiving the film as a 3D project and shooting with stereo equipment gives the best experience for the audience. However, for movies which have been shot in 2D a careful, manual conversion using post-production tools with skill can give audiences a good 3D movie even when starting from 2D footage.

Steve Owen is Director of Marketing at Quantel. The company develops innovative, world-leading content creation systems for broadcast, post-production and Digital Intermediate. Quantel products deliver at SD, HD, 2K, 4K and Stereoscopic 3D.

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