Movie Theaters Upset, Won't Approve Sony's New 3D Glasses Policy
We promised to keep you updated, so here is the latest. Following news this week that Sony announced it wouldn't be paying for 3D glasses starting next summer, as expected, movie theaters are now up in arms. The National Association of Theater Owners (aka NATO) released a statement, via Deadline, saying that "Sony's suggestion is insensitive to our patrons, particularly in the midst of continuing economic distress" and acknowledges that providing 3D glasses on the cost of the studios was, at least for the US, "established as part of the 3D experience." It doesn't look too good for the studios, but we expected this kind of response.
In the few days since Sony announced it would be the first to step away from paying for 3D glasses, there's been quite a rabble in the exhibition world. The short story is that at the moment, nothing is set until they can discuss things further at ShowEast, an industry convention, later this month. NATO's statement says: "Since the onset of the digital 3D revolution in 2005 it has been understood that exhibitors would bear the weight of technological and facility modification costs related to 3D, while distribution took on the cost of 3D glasses. Any changes to that understanding must be undertaken through the mutual agreement of both sides of the business." In turn, Sony has said, here's our chance, let's talk it out and find a shared solution.
We can only hope that both sides are smart enough not to put the costs back on the consumer. While other moviegoers around the world have to pay $1 or more for 3D glasses upon going in, here in the US its been part of the system all along that we receive glasses for free with the ticket when we go into a 3D movie. It would disrupt what consumers have come to expect if they have to pay more and only hurt movie-going - but may help Hollywood shift its focus back to 2D (and away from so much 3D) and other options like IMAX or better framerates. Of course, with a studio behind the decision not to pay, they must have a plan for this, or they wouldn't be releasing two huge 3D movies next summer (Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black III).
"With theaters united and studios split, we see little chance of a studio victory," one analyst tells Deadline, adding that it's also unlikely moviegoers will be made to pay for 3D glasses, but it's still early on. "Sony's actions raise serious concerns for our members who believe that provision of 3D glasses to patrons is well established as part of the 3D experience," NATO says. But apparently Sony really wants to work this out and figure out a mutual agreement, where the cost is split, or covered in other creative ways. After releasing the NATO statement, Sony put out another one of their own, firing back with their response. In full here:
There are constructive ways to deal with the cost of 3D glasses that will not adversely impact consumers, and can also help the environment.
NATO's statement that it has been "understood" that distributors would always bear the cost of 3D glasses is incorrect, because there never has been any such agreement. In fact, we have been speaking with people in the industry for a long time about the need to move to a new model, so this certainly comes as a surprise to no one in the business.
We invite theater owners to engage in a collegial dialogue with us about this issue, including at ShowEast next month. By working together on a business-to-business basis, we are confident a reasonable solution can be reached that brings benefits to consumers, the entertainment industry and the environment.
They're fighting press release to press release out in the public now, at the least to setup the discussion at ShowEast, which is rather interesting to see, but it sounds like Sony is adamant on no longer paying for 3D glasses. They really don't want to have to pay anymore, so the question becomes: who will instead? If the theaters don't want to, is it the moviegoers? Can the studios seriously be thinking of pushing the costs elsewhere, or do they want the theaters to oblige? The LA Times talked with the president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, who said he "applauded" Sony's decision, adding that "I am revisiting this issue as well." Looks like there's a studios vs. theaters war abrewing if things don't get patched up soon.
I fully expected NATO and the movie theaters to respond in this way, I was just waiting for it to happen. But truthfully, it's a tough debate, neither side wants to pay fully or agree to a solution, so what else can they do but bicker back and forth until someone comes up with something. I just hope that they keep the consumer in mind. While I recognize that other parts of the world pay for 3D glasses, and spending $1 to pick up a pair wouldn't hurt, it's going to cause even more people to complain about going to the movies. If only they'd take off that extra premium price for 3D tickets to begin with, that might make spending a little more money for glasses seem reasonable, but it's not going to work many other ways. Only time will tell what happens.
Who will back down first: the movie studios or movie theaters? You can read full statements from both sides on Deadline. There hasn't been any other official response from either party yet, or other studios, since the news first hit, but we'll continue to keep you updated. Will they be able to find a reasonable solution?
Reader Feedback - 25 Comments
For respect to the real NATO, can you kill the acronym use. That is such a joke. As for the story, meh. I have 3 pair so whatevs. I even made a pair out of some older cheap sunglasses so now I have stylish 3d glasses. lol
Nate Carroll on Oct 1, 2011
If they aren't providing glasses tickets better be cheaper.
Imthinking Tyler on Oct 1, 2011
Moviegoers should have their own 3D glasses and bring it with them.
Jedibilly on Oct 1, 2011
$36 for Final Destination - CRAP MOVIE...go ahead and pass it on to the consumer, i'd like to see that one.
Infojdl2 on Oct 1, 2011
Um... I don't know how it is for you guys across the nation but here in the bay area, they've already been sticking us with the bill for 3D movies/glasses. I was reading this article like, "wtf? I've already been paying a few dollars over the price to see these kind of movies." And THAT'S why I bring my own and pay for some other movie to stick it to the man. My girl's even got two pairs in her purse at ALL times... Man, I love that woman....
That 1 Guy.... on Oct 1, 2011
The added price of 3-D isn't to cover the cost of glasses but for the equipment and extra personnel needed for 3-D movies. More and more theatres, however, are beginning to reduce or even drop the 3-D surcharge due to a decline in 3-D sales at the box office. Go ahead and "stick it to the man" cuz that man is likely the greedy movie studios who are making the most of your ticket $$. But at least buy some of the overpriced concessions - if you still want to go to the movies at a theatre.
Projectionist on Oct 1, 2011
Yeah, about that... I'm having problems with a $4 coke and a $5 popcorn, thanks. I saw Harry Potter in 3D because reviews claimed it was very well-down -- it was, and not over-done -- but otherwise I'll save the extra $3 and see the "regular" screening. Overall I don't see the appeal of 3D.
Sam_c on Oct 2, 2011
I'll think about concessions after at least the second movie I'm going into. That's if I didn't bring my own. With what they're charging, I'm sure someone is buying concessions for me and the three patrons standing in line behind him.
That 1 Guy.... on Oct 2, 2011
Good. Hopefully this is the end of 3d movies because it SUCKS! It is distracting, annoying and adds nothing to the movie experience because it does not work properly 100% of the time. Every time I notice it not working right, it ruins the movie experience. Good riddance. Fuck 3d.
Traviscampbell6l6 on Oct 1, 2011
Ummmm....wait a sec. We are ALREADY paying for the glasses!!! Every theater I've ever been to charges about $3 more for 3d movies. Is there something I'm missing? I'd be happy never seeing a 3d movie ever again. Isn't it already just a gimmick to get us to pay more?
Anonymous on Oct 1, 2011
As a theatre manager (at work now), it doesnt matter how many pairs you keep, you're not paying for the glasses (as this brewing "war" suggests), you're paying for the lense and bulb costs. So you're going to still be charged the fee. It just depends on the tightness of the security at whichever theatre you go to. But going back to the issue at hand, other countries pay the extra for the glasses, but guess what? They're exactly that... Other countries. They're not America. Theyre not in the economic climate we're in. But it all starts at the beginning. PRODUCE QUALITY 3D. The movie can suck, but the 3D needs to be worth the extra cost. Sanctum was a boring turd, but the 3D was well-done.
Gutsspill on Oct 1, 2011
Hoping for the 3D trend to die, it's a joke that has gone too far.
A_A on Oct 1, 2011
James on Oct 2, 2011
I wouldnt mind paying extra for 3Dglasses as long as I can buy them at "cost", if the studios think that they can get 40cent 3D glasses and sell them to me for $1 to make a profit then there full of crap......
Drsteelr on Oct 2, 2011
Why would you want to have new glasses for every Movie? Charge 2 Dollars for glasses and tell the people to keep them for the next movie. Anyone who can aford a Ticket and Popcorn, can buy his own glasses too.
Groarr on Oct 2, 2011
While most 3d sucks indeed, I really to see if die simply because of Ridley Scott's "Prometheus", which was shot in 3d.
Buzzfunk on Oct 2, 2011
I meant "really don't want to see it die..." Lack of coffee...grrr
Buzzfunk on Oct 2, 2011
It seems to be falling apart.
Xerxexx on Oct 2, 2011
Hate to say it but In the UK we pay an extra £2.70 ($4.70) for entrance to the 3D movie and about another £2 ($3) ontop for the glasses. Used to be free not anymore. Never been to a 3D movie since.
sonnychiba1 on Oct 3, 2011
I HATE 3D MOVIES
dann on Oct 3, 2011
I say let them charge us for glasses. Charge us through the nose so we can get rid of 3D. 3D sucks, and even if the film has great 3D there are only a few seats that save you from the sore neck of being too close. I would only go to see the new Avatar films in 3D. I enjoyed that experience but any others were horrible in 3D. Let them charge us and save us the hassle and the 'extra' cost for a format that I hear less people enjoy.
Fetidnosferatu on Oct 4, 2011
boooooooo on Oct 5, 2011
In Spain and other European co untries3dReal glasses costs 1 Euro, this started more than a year ago, but there where no many critics. I guessed that Sony used countries like Spain for testing this strategy. Now I allways keep 4 pairs of 3dReal glasess in my car´s glove compartment.
karl on Oct 10, 2011
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