So says Rupert Gavin, CEO of Odeon & UCI Cinemas, speaking on BBC radio. Odeon is spending £70 million ($107 million) converting screens to digital. Odeon expects to have 500 digital projects installed by the end of summer, with Cats & Dogs and Step Up 3 still to come on 3D.
Odeon’s also holding a 3D live fashion show for Ozwald Boeteng at its flagship Leicester Square site in September. Sashaying up and down the catwalk will be beamed live to other cinemas in Paris, Milan and Tokyo. I’ve always felt a bit sceptical when I hear multiplex operators tub-thumping cinemas as conference venues but live 3D does sound innovative. I’m guessing those 3D sunglasses look enough like Wayfarers to satisfy the fashionistas.
There will be 15,300 digital 3D screens worldwide by the end of this year. This compares with 8,989 3D screens at the end of 2009. So says Screen Digest in its latest report, Digital Cinema Moves Into the Mainstream. Sixty per cent of the world’s digital screens will be 3D by Christmas. There will be 25,600 digital screens compared with 16,335 in 2009 – a rise of 57%.
Frantic building of 3D will come too late for distributors this summer though. I predict sharp elbows in the UK this August, with Hollywood releases pushing each other out of the way for precious 3D screen space.
August 6-8 is the crunch weekend. Warner Bros will have just released Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, while Universal debuts Step Up 3D. But Disney’s Toy Story 3 will still only be on its third weekend. One exhibitor tells me studios should brace themselves for sharp drop-offs.
With all the 3D screen building going on, too few screens will not be an issue next summer. Odeon and Cineworld both say 40-45% of their screens will have gone digital 3D. But will audiences have grown bored of the gimmick by then?