With 3D movies becoming more and more prevalent, we suppose it was only a matter of time before the studios decided that they no longer wanted to pay for the glasses film fans pick up prior to every screening. Sony is the latest company to say they’re ready to stop footing the bill for the funky shades – and it’s a move that could very well spark a civil war between Hollywood and theater owners.
Sony recently sent out a letter to its exhibition partners stating that as of May 1st of 2012, it will no longer pay for 3D glasses – one of the most important components of the 3D viewing experience. Instead, the assumption is that it will fall to either theater owners to cough up the dough for the glasses, or in a more likely scenario, the consumer. Exhibitors are angry with the move because they feel they’ve already footed enough of the bill for the 3D movement – they spent millions converting theaters so that they could play these films in the first place. Film lovers, meanwhile, are unlikely to want to pay for the glasses – seeing as the average 3D film already has a $3 to $4 dollar surcharge built into the ticket price as it is.
Sony, for its part, insists that the price tag for the 3D glasses runs anywhere from $5 million to $10 million dollars for a tentpole release. Smaller films aren’t much cheaper, costing anywhere from $1.5 to $2 million dollars per title. That’s not a small amount of money, but with film budgets on major releases now running over $200 million dollars regularly, and several 3D films grossing over a billion dollars this summer, it’s hard to feel bad for the studios.
Naturally, Sony doesn’t really care who foots the bill for the spectacles, as long as it’s not them. They’ve suggested that perhaps its time for American audiences to purchase their own 3D glasses like film viewers in other countries do – but again, with audiences already being forced to pay significantly more to view a film in 3D and American audiences being accustomed to the glasses being free, this idea seems unlikely to gain traction.
The studios insist that while they did offer to pay for the glasses at the beginning of the 3D movement (to help convince theaters owners to upgrade for the format), they never intended to do it indefinitely. Sony isn’t the first studio to try to stop paying for the glasses – Fox attempted it and failed after encountering stiff opposition – but they may be the first to actually follow through with the threat. If that happens, we suspect it won’t be the theater chains who pay, but the consumer instead. There’s one more reason to hate 3D movies…
What say you, readers? Would you pay more (possibly 50 cents more per ticket) than you already do to watch a movie in 3D? Would you buy your own pair of glasses (or will you just keep the pair you were given after your next 3D screening)? We’ll admit that the idea of having our own pair of shades appeals to the germ-phobic part of us (donning used glasses always grossed us out), but if that’s the case, then a big chunk of that 3D ticket surcharge better disappear. Somehow, we doubt that will happen…