IMAX Cutting 3D Showings Indicates the Medium is Dying

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

In the medium war between resolution, higher dynamic range and 3D, 3D is losing. Badly. Mostly because people are realizing that paying extra for 3D and getting lousy conversions simply isn’t worth the money. Add in ultra high definition Dolby Vision presentations being superior, and it’s no wonder why IMAX is doing fewer and fewer 3D presentations.

“We’re looking forward to playing fewer 3-D versions of films and more 2-D versions,” said IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster to The Wrap

Citing plummeting ticket sales for 3D showings, IMAX CEO Greg Foster stated recently that the company will be showcasing fewer and fewer 3D presentations in favor of conventional 2D IMAX. The drop in 3D ticket sales was a part of a lack luster 2nd quarter earnings report, which also cited stronger performance in 2D showings versus 3D. The drop in 3D mirrors a similar report by the MPAA,which showed an 8 percent drop in attendance industry wide.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which was shot in IMAX, will have no 3D showings at all. And it seems to be paying off. With no 3D options being had, Nolan’s World War II epic enjoyed a $50 million domestic opening weekend, not bad for a period piece. “It’s worth noting ‘Dunkirk’ was showing exclusively in 2-D,” Foster added, “which consumers have shown a strong preference for.”

Next up on the IMAX agenda is , and Warner Brothers Blade Runner 2049. The sci-fi epic, which marks the return of Harrison Ford to the franchise, will be shown in 2D exclusively starting in October.

Image credit – Bryan Moscoso, YouTube

The other reason IMAX may be dropping 3D is to focus resources on their new joint venture … virtual reality centers. IMAX is calling them VR Arcades and audiences will be able to deep dive into entertainment properties with virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive. With it’s first VR location having opened in Los Angeles three months ago, the immersive experience has been a huge hit. For around $7-10 a ticket, viewers have been enjoying immersive experiences like the John Wick Chronicles, and viewers are engaging more with the characters, rather than leaning back and enjoying the ride.

“Our LA facility, which has been opened for roughly 3 months now, has seen over 20,000 unique visitors,” said IMAX’s Richard Lewis Gelfond. “From a revenue standpoint, the center is pacing at roughly $15,000 a week over the last month or so, including our highest grossing week to date, this past week, and continues to exceed expectations.”

Now IMAX is working towards opening additional centers in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, China and Manchester, UK, and thanks to the success of it’s LA location, they are adding a new location in Tokyo, Japan, where VR is an extremely popular genre. “[IMAX] will continue to use these sites as pilots to ultimately determine the longer-term opportunity at hand, but we’re definitely encouraged by the initial results from our LA facility,” said Gelfond.

So at the end of the day, while it’s run was longer than I expected, 3D is definitely on its way out. TV has already abandoned the medium in favor of high dynamic range and 4K, and now, with IMAX, it looks like movie theaters will follow suit. But will VR last as long? I’m still not convinced. Frankly, I’d rather have the gorgeous color pallet of dynamic range, than a gimmick that uses half the resolution. I felt that way about 3D and it looks like I was proven right.

Hat Tip – The Wrap, Mashable

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