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Theaters struggle to keep up with 3-D rush

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
April 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's safe to say the studios want more 3-D screens because they bring in more money. That's because seeing a movie in 3-D is going to cost you a premium. But there's a problem. The films are becoming so popular they're beginning to be victims of their own success.There will be an unprecedented 3-D-theater traffic jam this weekend as "Clash of the Titans" joins mega-hits "How to Train Your Dragon," and "Alice in Wonderland."

Only about 4,000 of the 39,000 theaters in North America are currently equipped to show 3-D movies. That's roughly 10-percent.

"I think now we're past critical mass to the point where there isn't enough capacity to meet the demand we have out there right now," said David Cohen, Daily Variety.

Some multiplexes only have one 3-D screen which makes the 3-D craze good for word-of-mouth, but not yet good for business.

Theater chains scramble to convert more screens, and studios are trying to help offset the cost. But adding one 3-D screen can set a theater back $100,000.

"The pace of 3-D movie production got ahead of the pace of 3-D theater installation," said Cohen.

"Avatar" kicked off the 3-D frenzy and industry experts believe it is here to stay, especially since moviegoers are paying a premium to watch the films.

"Right now, 3-D is what is propelling the box office to its record levels," said Robert Sunshine, ShoWest's managing director.

I was recently at a theater convention and saw a large variety of 3-D glasses in all styles. And if you already wear glasses or contacts, you'll be able to get them with your prescription -- another hint that 3-D is here to stay.