Although U.S. audiences have cooled to 3D movies, overseas ticket buyers still loved the technology in 2010, a report today from IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence shows. Researchers say that ticket buyers worldwide spent $6.1B on 3D movies last year, which was 19.3% of total box office. That was up from $2.5B in 2009, accounting for 8.6% of all ticket sales. But the big growth came outside the U.S.: Overseas audiences accounted for 63.9% of last year’s 3D sales, up from 53.8%. Hollywood can take credit: “The global market still is dominated by U.S. releases, which accounted for more than 90% of revenue from international 3D screens,” says Charlotte Jones, senior analyst for cinema at IHS. Japan was the biggest market after the U.S. generating gross 3D receipts of $471M from films including Fox’s Avatar, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3, and a local release Umizaru 3: The Last Message. Trailing Japan were the UK ($427.6M), France ($364.7M), and Russia ($336.5M). But on a per-capita basis, movie-goers in Colombia showed the most interest in 3D. The technology accounted for 35.6% of the country’s total box office sales. Among the least interested: Norway, where just 15.8% of ticket sales were for 3D. IHS says that moviegoers in China and Mexico saw the biggest markups for 3D tickets. Still, Mexico had the lowest average ticket price for 3D.
Overseas income will continue to rise, according to consultants Screen Digest. The US share of box office will fall to 30% by 2014. America accounted for 33% of global box office revenue in 2009, down from 40% a decade ago. The US Losing Global Box Office Share report says Japan is the second biggest single market, accounting for 7.5% of box office. And France is the third most important, rising to 5.9% last year (5.3% in 1999). Russia has been the fastest growing territory over the past 10 years: its contribution grew by 2,625%. After Russia come Romania (423.3%), China (347%), Columbia (255%) and Slovakia (255%).
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?