Survey sees payoff on 3-D

Study analyzed more than 4,000 U.S. theaters

Theaters that exhibited the November 2007 release "Beowulf" in 3-D saw a 65% sales increase in total boxoffice over comparable theaters that exhibited it in 2-D, according to a new study from the Nielsen Co.'s Nielsen PreView.

Nielsen PreView's 3-D study analyzed more than 4,000 U.S. theaters -- some with 3-D and others without -- that housed at least four screens. These sites were considered comparable theaters in that they had a proven track record in the action/adventure genre.

Besides the edge in boxoffice sales, theaters that chose to exhibit "Beowulf" in 3-D on more than one screen saw their sales climb even higher to 100% versus what was expected.

In part, the results reflect a premium ticket price for 3-D. "People are willing to pay this higher price for a better theater experience," said Dan O'Toole, new product director at Nielsen Ventures.

"With all the upcoming hype around 3-D, we wanted to take a hard look and see if there is truly a consumer appetite for 3-D," said Ann Marie Dumais, senior vp at Nielsen PreView. "Our new research approach contrasted theaters in such a way to demonstrate consumers, when given a choice, will choose 3-D."

A related Nielsen study found that while consumers have an appetite for 3-D films, they often lack general awareness and education about what 3-D is and where to find it. In a recent Nielsen moviegoer survey, 48% were unaware their movie was available in 3-D. "We are talking about are they aware that a given movie is offered in both formats, what that looks like and where to find it," Dumais said.

There are currently a little more than 1,000 3-D-ready digital cinema screens in North America. At least 10 3-D titles are expected to open in 2009.

The Hollywood Reporter is part of The Nielsen Company.