Hollywood has an Achilles heel?
Well, to be more specific, not all of Hollywood, just the major generals of 3D. Leaders of the mutts-, serial killers- and circus mice-in-your-face invasion that has been gaining momentum with each new release from Bolt to My Bloody Valentine. Spectacles in 3D typically bring in more ticket revenue than 2D adventures. But they also have higher budgets, about $15 to $20 million over 2D productions.
Herein lies Hollywood's alleged heel of vulnerability:
To make up the difference in cost versus profit, studios need to sell big in secondary TV and DVD/Blu-ray markets. Yet, filmmakers fear moviegoers who purchase a Coraline DVD won't be able to replicate their 3D theatrical experience at home, no matter how colossal their TV screen. (The theatrical-to-DVD conversion apparently downgrades 3D movies to lesser-quality Anaglyph technology.) Though 3D-at-home equipment and delivery is currently available, there are no standards guaranteeing content will render accurately on all 3D-ready devices.
Hollywood's concern for our home-viewing pleasure would be heartwarming, except that's not exactly what's keeping 3D moviemakers up at night. Doubting consumers will shell out extra dough for a 3D upgrade -- especially if they've recently purchased costly high-definition televisions -- some digital analysts forecast that a profitable 3D home-theater market won't develop for another five to seven years.
Nevertheless, companies like Kerner New York, a 3D production firm spawned from Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic, continue to design 3D-at-home devices. According to a Video Business report of Kerner's CEO's comments, if theatrical 3D is a "10" then the company's 3D-TV version is a "5." No word on when Kerner's system will be for sale. Though industry experts estimate some 2.5 million 3D-ready tubes currently exist in homes near or not near you. But that's not, according to them, enough to qualify the technology as mainstream.
If you were considering plunking down some plastic for a mediocre-ish, non-standardized, 3D-ready TV, about how much would it set you back? Oh ... just a paltry $1,499 to $4,999, if Mitsubishi's new 3D-ready TV line is any indicator.
Anyhoo, let's say, for the sake of argument, Hollywood's doom-and-gloom, 5-to-7-years prediction is true. If you loved Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D, would you pay to take home the 2D version? Would knowing that your couch viewing wouldn't be as reach-out-and-touch-someone (or something) stunning as a 3D cinema screening dissuade you from welcoming the film to your DVD collection?
Of course, when they do finally release well-regulated, high-quality (say a "9" instead of a "5"), 3D-ready TVs that don't cost more than a car, I'm sure many film fans will line up to buy.