Sony to Stop Subsidizing 3D Glasses?

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.

About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
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5 Responses to Sony to Stop Subsidizing 3D Glasses?

  1. You know some idiot in the boardroom is justifying why they think this would work by citing how people are paying hundreds of dollars for their home 3D TV glasses. Of course, they’d be completely missing the point that the only people that are doing that are people that love and buy the newest things they can get their hands on.

    On the other hand, though, if the industry was able to roll out a price point that increased only slightly compared to the rate it already creeps up, I doubt anyone would growl too much.

    • True, but I kind of doubt they can do that with the glasses being an added cost. People are used to thinking of the extra cost of a 3D movie as including the glasses. If they have to pay a surcharge for the 3D, and have to buy the glasses separately, it’s going to seem like a pretty big increase, even if it’s only an occasional purchase. Unless it’s only something like a dollar or so, but if that were the case, they probably wouldn’t be trying to take this tactic.

      • Agreed. I know I didn’t realize that I wasn’t paying, at least in part, for the glasses with the extra price.

        If Sony, or any other company, is that gung ho about the issue, the only option they have (without killing 3D as you mentioned) is a very slow increase over a couple of years or more. Any bigger or faster move will kill 3D dead, especially now that the novelty has already (at least) half worn off for the average moviegoer.

  2. Castor says:

    Ahah ridiculous. They expect audiences to pay even more for 3-D, something that they are starting to reject. Hopefully, this will mean the end of 3-D down the road.

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