3D is box-office poison

Despite a record 47 films released in 3D last year, including the final Harry Potter and the latest in the Transformers franchise, UK box-office receipts for the format fell £7 million (€8.3m) to £230 million, reducing its share of total ticket sales from 24 per cent to 20 per cent.

The average takings per 3D film slumped from £8.5 million in 2010, when there were just 28 in the genre, to £4.9 million, according to a report by research firm Enders Analysis. “A few years ago people went to 3D films just to see what it was like,” said the report’s author, Alice Enders. “That period of experimentation is over. The reality has set in and the momentum has gone. The recession is a factor and families are pushing back against 3D.”

With 3D tickets costing on average 30 per cent more than other films, and with the added cost of glasses, which small children and those who wear contact lenses and spectacles often find uncomfortable, the format is losing its lustre. The biggest-grossing film of 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, was released in both formats but took just 48 per cent of its box-office income from 3D screenings.

The 3D fad looks to be running out of steam, just as it did in the 1950s. This year, the number of 3D films released in the UK will fall to 33, some 14 fewer than in 2011. The outlook for cinema in 2012 is gloomy, with the Olympics expected to distract audiences.

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