According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has sent out letters to American movie theatres stating that they plan to eventually stop covering the costs of the RealD 3D glasses needed to view 3D movies. Under the current system, studios foot part of the bill for the glasses (at between $5-10 million per movie), which helps keep costs… well, not “low”, exactly, but lower, at any rate. Sony is hoping to back away from that model, leaving it to the theatres to manage the costs (Fox tried to do this earlier, but met with protests from the theatre owners).
If Sony does go this route, and manages to make it stick, it is expected other studios will follow suit. Either ticket prices would be raised, or movie viewers would be expected to purchase the glasses outright (at which point you could then ignore the glasses recycling bins guilt free). Either way, though, I think if this happened it could put a very big nail in the coffin for the current 3D trend. People are already balking at the higher prices for 3D movies, and raising it further would only aggravate that. As for purchasing them outright… for starters, that would not be a cheap investment the first time around. I think, when I looked at a pair of fit-overs — I wear regular glasses — they cost about $10.00 (I passed on them). I imagine the regular ones would be about the same. And it probably would be an at least occasionally-reoccurring expense. Small items that you use only irregularly are easily lost.
So here’s hoping the theatres push Sony back on this the way they did Fox. There’s a basic rule of business here that Sony’s overlooking: If you make it hard for people to indulge in a luxury item, they won’t. And that’s bad when your entire business is luxury items.