This summer saw US cinema attendance figures hit their lowest point in 5 years. Hollywood.com estimates that 552 million people hit theatres across the States, compared to the previous lowest point of 563.2 million back in 2005. What’s thought to be to blame? 3D movies.
“But I thought 3D movies were saving the cinema industry, right?” I hear you say. Well that appears to be only half true. Certainly, it’s far more difficult to illegally record a 3D-only movie, and 3D flicks like Avatar have seen box office receipts sky-rocket.
But the extra financial gain made from 3D films seems to fall largely on their inflated ticket prices. The average 3D cinema ticket has a 5% premium slapped on top in the US, with ticket prices on average now 25 cents higher across the board at $7.88 than they were back in 2009. This means that while box office takings can go up, attendance levels do not necessarily have to follow suit.
Add in the often-separate charge for 3D specs, and it seems some cinema goes are simply being priced out of a seat.
Of course, the actual quality of the films themselves this year have also been called into question. Apart from Inception and Toy Story 3, many critics feel it’s hardly been a sterling year for the silver screen.
“Audiences were underwhelmed, and they voted with their absence”, said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “If you asked most people what they thought of the quality of the movies, it’s kind of a so-so summer”.