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- Avatar in 3D 
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 3D 
- How to Train Your Dragon in 3D 
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RealD Inc. and AMC Entertainment Inc. announced an agreement this week to equip up to 1,000 additional screens with RealD 3D technology in AMC locations in the United States and Canada. This will raise AMC's total RealD 3D-enabled screen count to about 2,500 screens, which is nearly 50 percent of AMC auditoriums. Installation of the additional RealD systems has already begun.
RealD's equipment has become a very popular solution for many movie theaters to add 3D capability to their auditoriums. AMC, Regal, and others have installed RealD equipment, and according to the press release RealD technology is present in 16,700 screens worldwide.
We understand the incentive for movie theaters to add 3D capability to their locations, as the additional fees that they charge for 3D presentations help their bottom line. However, we have to wonder whether 3D peaked 18 months ago with Avatar 3D, which is the movie that convinced so many theaters that 3D was worthwhile in the first place. Avatar's box office was limited at the time because How to Train Your Dragon 3D was released in March 2010, pushing Avatar out of screens that it was still filling with audiences.
A quote in the press release from RealD chairman and CEO Michael V. Lewis states that movie releases are still being constrained by the lack of available 3D screens, but many people (ourselves included) feel that 3D has been used more as a gimmick than to further the moviegoing experience (the 3D effects in Clash of the Titans 3D were widely panned for their low quality and impact). Additionally, 3D presentations are challenged with low light levels, which can be a huge problem for movies that already have dark settings, such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 3D. In contrast, Avatar used 3D very well, and it took advantage of bright colorful scenes to impress audiences.
As a result, there is a bit of a fatigue on the part of audiences who are expected to pay a premium for lackluster results. Of the 2D/3D releases this year, most have attracted more audiences to their 2D presentations, but due to the upcharges, 3D has often generated slightly more revenue.
Perhaps 3D is still in its youth, and we have yet to see its full potential. Perhaps with more installations, the equipment will get better so that the presentations will more closely match the light levels of 2D presentations and that the high-gain silver screens that systems like RealD require will not be necessary (so as not to adversely affect 2D presentations by elevating the reflections so much that the house lighting washes out the image). Perhaps studios will become better at utilizing the technology to accomplish more with it, and there will be another movie that will have a compelling reason to see it in 3D.
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