I Watched Avengers In 3D, But I Didn’t Wanna

That title’s a little misleading. It almost makes it sound like I didn’t want to see The Avengers at all, which, I assure you, was not the case. I really, really wanted to see this movie, I simply didn’t want to have to watch it in 3D.


This Sunday, my brother Nathan and I decided to go see The Avengers. When I arrived at my local theater, Nathan, who had arrived about 30 minutes early for the show, informed me that the 2D show was sold out. My theater, by the way, had one screen showing Avengers in 2D, and three screens showing the 3D version. We were trying to get to the earliest screening possible, as I had some appointments in the afternoon, so our choices came down to waiting another day to see the movie, or just seeing it in 3D. We debated our choices for a while, and as we did, several more people came up to the window wanting tickets to the sold out 2D showing. The workers at the box office informed them that the 2D showing was sold out, but that a 3D showing started just 15 minutes later. Of the 20 or so people I saw go through this scenario, the vast majority did not opt to see the 3D movie, instead, they simply left.

That’s right, rather than pay more money to watch the same movie, they went home.

My brother and I opted to pay the extra money, however, since we didn’t have another time in the coming days to see it together. We hopped in line, and when we got to the ticket window, I realized that the man working there was actually the theater’s manager. I purchased my ticket, and told him that I was doing it begrudgingly. He sympathized, and told me that he too wished that they’d had more 2D copies of the film. Then, he threw a little factoid at me that kind of blew my mind. He said that the box office takes for the two versions of the film were actually neck and neck, despite the 2D version being on fewer screens, and a cheaper ticket. I kind of doubted that, and in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t been able to find anything else that backs that up. However, the view from my seat in the theater really got me thinking.

When the movie finally started, our screening was maybe, and it’s a generous maybe, half full. Some quick back of the envelope math breaks down like so:

Average movie ticket price – $8, Upcharge for 3D – $3 (That’s almost a 40% mark up, by the way), the theaters in our town hold about 300 people each. So, a sold out 2D showing makes $2400 dollars, and 3 half-full 3D showings makes $4,950. Yes, that’s twice as much money, but it took three times as many screens, and 40% higher ticket prices to get there. That doesn’t even take into account the completely lost sales of the people that went home when they heard the 2D showing was sold out!

I loved the movie, it was pretty easily the greatest superhero movie yet, but the 3D didn’t enhance my experience at all. In fact, it detracted from it. The action in the extreme foreground blurs horribly for me in 3D, and the entire experience never fails to give me a headache.

I really hope that 3D is a fad that fades away sooner, rather than later. It’s a gimmick. It doesn’t enhance the movie experience, and it doesn’t seem to be making any extra money for Hollywood at this point. All of this is obviously just my opinion, and your mileage may vary, but this is my blog, and that’s the way I see it.

4 comments on “I Watched Avengers In 3D, But I Didn’t Wanna

  1. squingynaut says:

    The thing the manager said and the math you did makes me wonder if the studio/theater get different cuts depending on 2D/3D sales. Like, does the studio take all/part/none of the glasses money?

    Also, we’re definitely going to see it in 2D, even if we have to wait. We also hope that 3D is a fad, although we’re happy to watch Avatar in 3D. That’s our only exception.

    • jasonahurley says:

      I know that theaters only get a very small cut of box office sales, though I’m not sure how the 3D price bump figures into that. Good luck getting tickets to a 2D showing, if I were you, I’d buy them early online through Fandango.

  2. manekochan says:

    I also get blurred edges on the screen throughout the movie. That’s probably just my own thing since I don’t do 3D anything well (3Ds, fully rendered 3D objects in video games, those 3Deye posters) but it’s super annoying.

  3. Nick Graham says:

    Actually, I would say the manager’s report was accurate. I have friends in the theater business who have seen similar occurrences. I work right by Iola, KS, and co-workers who went to the midnight show there said that the auditorium showing it in 2D was more packed than the 3D one. When we were in Joplin Saturday, the 6:15 2D show Avengers was sold out, despite the fact that the manager was alerting everyone in line for it that the AC in that auditorium was broken. Tickets for the 3D showing closest to it still had plenty of tickets available.

    I can’t begrudge the 3D movement too much, as thanks to it, most theaters have digital projection now. That said, 3D post-conversion has got to end. In movies actually shot with 3D cameras like Avatar and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, the 3D genuinely added to the visual storytelling (particularly in Hugo). Unfortunately, studios are still opting for cheap 3D post-conversions, and while the 3D in Avengers didn’t look horrible like it did on Thor and Cap, it was still utterly pointless. Both Avengers and John Carter felt more epic in scope to me in 2D than they did in 3D.

    BTW, cheap plug for my favorite theater – if you don’t mind the drive, Fort CInema in Fort Scott only upcharges a buck for 3D (making an adult 3D evening show only $8.50), has way more reasonable refreshments than Pitt or Joplin, and is all digital and all stadium seating. Cheap plug over.

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