2D or not 2D

I’m currently trying an experiment to see which customers prefer, 2D or 3D and what drives their choice either way. The results are just as frustrating as I’d expected. After a couple of weeks of 3D & 2D Pirates 4 and doing performances of Kung Fu Panda 2 at identical times in both formats , in order of preference the choice seems to made by the following:

1. Time of the performance.

2. 2D preferably. It’s cheaper and the kids don’t give a monkeys. They don’t wear the glasses most of the time.

3. 3D if it’s on at the time I want.

Admittedly it’s not the most scientific of experiments and I’m sure the multiplexes have had swanky expensive consultants working this out, but it throws up some interesting thoughts.

As a business we have benefited from the initial rush with films like Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, however the glasses are phenomenally expensive to maintain. Xpand are now charging over £40 a pair and as much as I love your sweet little children normally, I hate them when they return the glasses with chewed ears or worse with cracked and broken lenses, rendering them useless.

Sadly they can’t be repaired so any 3D profit on that show has gone right out the window, and with the Xpand glasses it happens a lot. I could have chosen the passive glasses system but as anyone who has seen a 3D screening at a multiplex will know Real D is horribly dark, that combined with the need for a silver screen, making all other films look like crap, I went with the system that gives the best picture quality. Something I will always do. Can’t help myself.

So should I drop 3D?, it would be less stressy and the picture looks better. However, I don’t want to lose customers to the opposition and, certainly initially, that was why I put 3D in to The Picture House. On the evidence of the last few days most customers don’t care, they just want the film on at a time convenient for them. I also don’t want to put people off coming because I am only showing the film in 3D. It’s not always possible to offer both formats due to screen space.

Ultimately I think the 3D fad will pass, but until it does I will always be torn about how to handle it. With both Hobbit films in 3D it looks like we’ll have to wear it until at least Christmas 2013. Ho hum.


6 thoughts on “2D or not 2D

  1. Hi Kevin

    Good to see you starting with the bloggery.

    I’ve always thought 3D is like the tabloid craze for bingo in the 80s (I think it was the 80s, memory’s going soft these days). As soon as one paper did it, they all had to, and then it cost them all hundreds of thousands of pounds a month for no extra sales. After a few years they all quietly dropped it.

    I’d no idea the glasses cost £40 though. Yuck. That’s a good business to be though; maybe you should get some shares in Xpand.

    Personally, I really don’t give a monkeys’ about 3D. I saw Avatar – at the Picture House – the 3D added nothing for me. I watched about half of it without them, ‘cos it was annoying wearing them – especially as I have specs already.

    In business terms though, you can’t ignore that portion of your market. Maybe you want to do a more systematic survey of the 3D audience, and then supply them with something like the minimum to keep them happy, until either the craze goes away or somebody comes up with better and cheaper specs.

    All the best


  2. I saw Alice in 3D at a multiplex and to be honest I found it good but a bit distracting. I’m hoping to come and see TT 3D tomorrow, and I reckon that should be perfect for 3D. I’ll let you know how it was.


  3. I did make it to see TT3D, and it was a great film and worked well in 3D. However I still found it distracting at times and it’s not really 3D is it? It is a series of flat planes at different depths. So for example a person’s face might be clearly in the foreground plane, but the face itself is all in one plane and thus flat. It’s a bit like those old fashioned dioramas you made as a kid (showing my age now). I certainly don’t think I’d spend a large premium for a 3D TV.

  4. I certainly feel your pain – I’m using Xpand too, and a little part of me dies inside every time someone hands back a pair of glasses bloken – you almost want to wring the cost of a replacement out of them!

    Someone suggested coating the arms of the glasses with that formula for preventing people from chewing their nails. Think I might give that a little try on a broken pair as an experiment.

    I wish I’d had the option to take a system with disposable glasses, but my reasoning, like yours, was the quality (and the initial outlay, of course). I live in the hope that, some day soon, Xpand will come up with a way of micro-miniaturising the tech, hard-wiring in a smaller power supply and making them semi-disposable. Even three or four showings with a unit cost of a couple of quid would be preferable. Get going, xpand scientists!

    Still, can’t complain too much – even with replacements its paid for itself twice over in the year I’ve been running it, and the number of patrons who request 2D versions are far less than the number that used to complain we didn’t have 3D!

    • It would be a massive help if Xpand offered a return service, because a lot of the time it’s one lens that is cracked and the whole pair has to go. If you could canabalise parts it would save a fortune. If Xpand would take them back and return a pair at say half the price that would help a lot.

  5. 3D all the way here, When its done well, then you really do get emmersed into the movie, Avatar and Transformers 3 are the best ive seen. I saw Avatar in 3 formats, IMAX, Real D and Xpand (At The Picture House, although it wasnt the 3D format I was interested in, it was to hear how good the sound system was as sound to me is massively important. Oh how I would love to view a showing of Micheal Manns HEAT in your best screen!!!) also as im fed up with Multiplexes constantly having sound issues!!!)

    Xpand was definately the cleanest and brightest, but if im honest, I dont find Real D an issue at all with it being darker. I can appreciate you wanting the best though.

    I do hope 3D is here to stay, but I also feel that it is a fad which will eventually pass. Although if Ridley Scotts Prometheus is in 3D, that could be an experience and a half!!!

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