Not unlike the underdog hero of a big Hollywood movie, 3D appears to be making a comeback. Just a year ago, industry followers had been wondering if the format was losing its luster due to declining audience interest in 3D, with some even posing the question, “Is the 3-D fad over?”
If this summer’s box office results are any indication, the answer to that question is a resounding no.
So far, the big winner of the season is Universal Pictures‘ Jurassic World. Almost half (about 48%) of its record-breaking $208 million opening-weekend gross came from 3D tickets. A more telling sign of this trend is that in its second week the film still generated 47% of its grosses in 3D.
Sales of 3D tickets to other summer films, such as Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas, and Inside Out, are also a signal of 3D’s resurgence. Some 45% of the first-weekend grosses of Mad Max came from 3D; for San Andreas, 44%, and for Inside Out, 28%.
While impressive, these returns still represent a decline from 2010, when audiences flocked to see 3D screenings of Alice in Wonderland and Tron Legacy. Those films earned 70% and 82% of their first weekend grosses from 3D, respectively.
3D admissions peaked that year, generating $2.2 billion, or about 21% of 2010’s domestic total, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Since then, the format has been on the decline, representing 18% of the US box office in 2011 (or $1.8 billion), 17% in 2012 ($1.8 billion), 16% in 2013 ($1.8 billion), and 14% in 2014 ($1.4 billion).
It’s still anyone’s guess as to how the format will fare in 2015. But with upcoming prospects such as Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the James Bond film Spectre, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens — all of which should be excellent candidates for 3D — the outlook seems positive.
Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.
Mad Max: Fury Road photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment