UPDATE: Well that didn't take long--theater owners have already expressed their outrage at Sony's plan to no long cover the cost of 3D glasses:
"To the extent that Sony seeks to change the current model in a manner that shifts the costs to exhibitors, we would be forced to evaluate this new economic model and program our screens accordingly. This could result in fewer screens exhibiting 3D films," said Regal Theaters CEO Amy Miles.
Nothing sets the stage for poor decision making like a technological revolution. Just looking back at 15 or so years of Internet history, we've see billions flushed down the drain via ill-conceived business models brought to us by film and television studios. And while the idiocy of cyberspace is far from over, it's now in the realm of 3D that the latest "idea" is about to bump up against the cold reality Econ 101.
Sony Pictures Entertainment has sent a letter to theater owners warning them that as of May 1, 2012, the studio will no longer be footing the bill--sometimes as much as $5 to $10 million per film--for the cost of 3D glasses, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sony's deadline falls, not surprisingly, just weeks before they unveil their next two 3D tent-poles, "Men in Black III" and "The Amazing Spider-Man."
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
"This is an issue that has to be resolved between us and our exhibition partners. We are trying to give them a very lengthy lead time in regards to the change in policy," said SPE president of distribution Rory Bruer.
Like a drug dealer trolling for junkies, studios originally told theater owners they would cover the cost of 3D glasses, figuring everyone would get hooked and come back begging for more. But a funny thing happened since "Avatar" made $2 billion--the 3D movie market went in the tank. It's impossible to tell if the fall in profits is a result of the quality of the films, the no-longer newness of the technology or what. But now that film goers have started to turn their backs on 3D, when unemployment is at 9%, when the economy is in the toilet, Sony now wants theater owners to incur the cost? And while theater owners will no doubt put up a fight, who do you think they'll turn to cover their expenses?
When people were complaining bitterly about the extra money they were originally asked to shell out for 3D, we defended the studios. They were offering a whole new experience that required new technology and equipment, and those things don't come cheap. But two years after slapping a premium on the 3D, to come back and ask for even more is bad business--it's why New Yorkers hate the MTA so much.
People have already shown a willingness to forgo the surcharge and watch movies in 2D, and now Sony wants to incentivize you further to opt for 2D? Wouldn't it be cheaper and more profitable to just drop 3D? We're not advocating the death of 3D--it'd be like advocating the death of sound or color--but traditionally the price for new technology is supposed to go down, isn't it? Remember when VCRs cost like $800?