Movies in 3D might've seemed like the technology of the future a few years ago, but new statistics show the moviegoing audience isn't buying. Maybe it's the uncomfortable glasses. Maybe it's the high prices.
Whatever it is, the statistics don't lie: The state of 3D movies is in decline. In a recent report from the Motion Picture Association of America, the revenue from 3D movies dropped 18 percent in 2017 to about $1.3 billion, the lowest number since the technology exploded in 2010. Overall, revenues from all movies only fell about 2 percent in 2017, so it can't simply be blamed on a bad year at the movies.
The history of 3D movies goes all the way back to the 1920s. Yes, they've been around that long. But 3D as we know it today rose to prominence in the early 2000s, culminating in the release of Avatar in late 2009. But since the huge box-office year for the technology in 2010, the revenue has slowly decreased.
The new report also notes a 15 percent decline in the number of 3D films released in 2017 compared to the year before. While it could show the industry growing weary of the 3D investment, the number of 3D films released in 2017 (44 films) is still much larger than the 2010 number (26 films). While the revenue declined by 18 percent, the number of 3D screens in the United States actually increased in 2017 — but it was only by 1 percent (a little over 200 screens) and a slower rate of growth than previous years.
Will this downward trend continue, or will the release of a new Avatar film in 2020 revive 3D once again? Or maybe a different technology will rise altogether.