According to Len Klady’s Sunday reporting, 66% of Pirates 4 screens were 3D screens and Disney told him that just 48% of the box office gross came from those screens.
Let’s consider what those numbers mean…
Figuring a very rough average ticket of $9 for non-3D and $12 for a 3D ticket, they sold 3.6 million 3D tickets and 5.2 million non-3D tickets. This flips how the distribution was set up regarding 3D… 59% of sales were non-3D and just 41% were 3D.
Not only is this a clear rejection of 3D on a major movie, but given how distribution is currently designed, it makes you wonder whether Disney cost themselves a lot of gross by putting their film on too high a percentage of 3D screens.
The principle is that on opening weekend of a mega-movie, you want potential ticket buyers to be able to get into the movie in that first weekend. So you may have a screening starting every 30 minutes in some megaplexes on those opening weekends.
So let’s say you went to a megaplex with 5 Pirates screens and had decided to go to the 2D version – for whatever reason – you only had one play time available every 2 hours or so while 3D ticket buyers had one an hour. If 2D showings were more available last weekend, would it have increased the gross substantially?
Could 3D as a tool to increase the average ticket price collapse under the weight of audiences unwilling to kick in an extra $3 a ticket when given a choice?
We have a lot more 3D product to look at as the summer progresses. I don’t believe in broad slaps against 3D, like comparing one non-3D movie’s opening to a 3D opening. That’s just a way to gloat. It doesn’t have any real weight. But if Cars 2 and Harry Potter find that there is a high percentage of ticket buyers seeking out 2D screens, we will find ourselves at a tipping point. Realistically, exhibitors will have to start backing away from 3D, as it will be apparent that it is costing them money, as they are the only part of the movie chain that really cares about the number of ticket buyers… as mass numbers of ticket buyers are the model to anticipate concession sales.
After that, there is a very serious conversation to be had about whether it is the quality of 3D or the higher price point driving the issue.
(CORRECTION FOR MATH, 11p)