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Study: Overpriced Tickets Could Kill Hollywood's 3D Box Office

PricewaterhouseCoopers research shows exhibitors might have to do away with high ticket premiums consumers don't want to pay.

Avatar and standardization of the technology represented “tipping points” for the acceptance of 3D movies, but Hollywood risks killing the golden goose if it overprices tickets and overly saturates the market, according to a study released to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, there are more than 40 3D movies already scheduled for release this year and -- in what might be news to film producers -- there’s no shortage of money to make them.

“So many people are keen -- sometimes too eager -- to finance 3D films,” according to the report.   “This supply of funds in a globally difficult film financing environment has led to a push for the conversion of some films originally envisioned as 2D into the 3d format. This often proves ill-advised.”   Nevertheless, 50%-70% of box office revenue is generated by 3D, which “has helped the entire industry to increase its revenues despite a declining number of tickets sold.”   The report lists some of the movies with the most impressive percentage of  opening-weekend box office revenue attributed to 3D. Step Up, for example, earned 84% of its first-weekend box office coin from 3D showings, whereas Avatar was at 80% and Final Destination: Death Trip was at 73%.   Citing a poll from BTIG Research, PWC concludes that a $5 premium per ticket is too much to expect audiences to pay for 3D. That survey indicated that 77% of Americans will not pay a premium of more than $4.   Many Americans don’t want to pay any premium, and PWC suggests that exhibitors might have to do away with it entirely, some day.   “Generally speaking, the sustainability of the 3D ticket premium is questioned by some players whom we interviewed,” the report says.   The report sums up the 3D phenomenon like this: “Many people are over-excited by it. The danger is that industry players risk killing a golden goose by overselling and, in some cases, overpricing the 3D experience -- and by providing too much mediocre content that doesn’t do justice to the technology.”