Currently to run a 3D movie an exhibitor needs a Digital Cinema Projection system and a compliant 3D system - costing approx. $100,000. Given this situation, thus far, only a small number of cinema screens (approx. 3000 out of a total universe of 35,000 in the U.S.) have opted for this capability and the ones that have only upgraded one or two screens at each multiplex.
Now Technicolor, a stalwart in the cinema industry, has developed a new on-film 3D System which will be made available to exhibitors in the near future. The cost of the Technicolor 3D will be much less than the current digital based systems and should be viewed as very good news for both the studios and exhibitors.
3D films generate a significantly greater per screen gross vs. 2D versions of the same movie - so distribution of more 3D films should generate higher grosses and attendance. The U.S. boxoffice gross will exceed $10 billion for 2009 - a record, but not a lot of revenue for a major industry. For example, Wal-Mart grosses $10 billion in sales on any given day. However, the cultural footprint of the cinema is huge in comparison to its dollar value. And certainly for big media a movie's theatrical release is only a small portion of a movie's life cycle as a product. By lowering the cost of 3D, Technicolor's new on-film system will be a boom to the movie industry - both for distributors and exhibitors alike and validates the premise of those, like myself, who have been postulating for some years now, that going digital would be the demise of Hollywood as the studios would lose distribution control. And as we all know, in the digital domain, it's distribution, and not content, that is King.