Theater Owners Scramble to Add More 3-D Screens For Holiday Films

Posted on October 30, 2009

Theater owners are working hard to ensure they have enough 3-D screens in time for the holiday movie fare, such as James Cameron's hotly anticipated SF film Avatar.
Theater owners are scrambling to make sure they have enough 3D screens to make it a happy holiday season. This past year, moviegoers have proved their willingness to pay extra coin for a 3D ticket -- particularly in foreign markets. So exhibs around the globe have been adding screens as fast as they can before the Nov. 6 release of Disney's "A Christmas Carol," starring Jim Carrey, and the Dec. 18 bow of James Cameron's "Avatar," from 20th Century Fox.

At the beginning of the year, there were 900 theaters in the U.S. equipped to play 3D titles. That count has more than doubled in the months since, with Robert Zemeckis' "Christmas Carol" expected to open in approximately 2,000 locations. Fox expects there to be 2,400-2,500 3D locations in the U.S. by the time "Avatar" unspools. (Domestically, exhibs tally the number of theater locations, while overseas distributors use screen counts.)

Internationally, the number of 3D screens should more than triple by the end of the year, from 1,000 at the end of 2008 to roughly 3,200. That makes a worldwide screen count of approximately 6,700.
The return of 3-D has been one bright spot in the movie business during the recession. The higher prices that theaters can charge for 3-D has made the screens very appealing. The 3D screen count for "Monsters vs. Aliens" was only 20% of the total, but those screens yielded 43% of the gross box office receipts.

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