DreamWorks Animation Charging an Extra $5 to See 3D Movies!
Last week I attended a few presentations at the 3D Entertainment Summit, mainly in search of Avatar footage and a chance to chat with James Cameron. While I didn't catch every discussion, Variety did, and they bring some very alarming news from a keynote chat with DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg. Since Christopher Campbell already tackled the more broad discussion on 3D, I'm going to focus on one specific issue that Katzenberg addressed. Katzenberg claims that the format "offers a premium experience and has the consumer paying a premium price." That price - an extra $5 more to watch 3D movies. And starting with Monsters vs Aliens, that price change will be in effect around the country.
Whether this extra charge is a veiled publicity gimmick to account for the bad economy or an actual way of claiming that the value is higher, I'm not entirely sure. However, I do know that this is one of the worst decisions ever made in Hollywood and glorifies exactly what I hate about 3D - that it isn't a premium experience. As I've explained before in previous articles, 3D was only "discovered" as a viable format because a few years back, some studios and exhibitors tried it out, realized it drew more audiences than normal and made them copious amounts of money, and in turn proclaimed it was the "future of cinema." There are people, like James Cameron, who are trying to develop 3D as an actual filmmaking technique, and there are people, like Katzenberg, who are trying to develop it as a moneymaking technique.
Katzenberg proves right here that he doesn't believe in 3D as a filmmaking technique, but purely as a way to make money. And obviously it's such an excessive (and expensive) process for him at DreamWorks, that he's now forced to charge an extra $5 to see his movies in 3D. IMAX also charges a premium for their format, but unlike 3D, it actually is worth the higher price and is a premium experience. Cameron believes that in the future, 3D won't be a technique that filmmakers are consumed with when shooting, instead, it'll be another element like lighting and sound that they need to consider. Katzenberg is only worried about money and how he can use 3D, the new "hot commodity" in theatrical exhibition, to make more. "Just at the moment exhibition and distribution got together" on 3-D, Katzenberg said, "there's no money."
Unfortunately I believe uneducated moviegoers are simply going to literally buy into this gimmick. And I'm worried that if this extra charge proves viable and successful for DreamWorks, studios like Disney will cave into it as well. "Premium pricing is the heart of a new incremental revenue stream for movie theaters," Screen Digest analyst Charlotte Jones said in a presentation at the 3D Summit. I wonder if it really is the only way to go, though? Shouldn't we be focusing on so many other ways to improve the moviegoing experience? And shouldn't studios be focusing on making better movies that audiences will enjoy? Monsters vs Aliens will be the real judge of whether Katzenberg's price increase falls through or not.