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Jeffrey Katzenberg Defends 3-D …Again

Jeffrey Katzenberg talks about how he plans to sustain the 3-D fad during this interview with The Wall Street Journal. He also discusses how seeing Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express inspired him to bet the farm on 3-D films.

Katzenberg gets testy after one of the reporter’s softball questions about a dip in attendance (around the 4 minute mark). It must be tough work maintaining the facade that 3-D is the savior of theaters, when in fact, 3-D has done absolutely nothing to renew interest amongst moviegoers in the United States nor has it substantially boosted box office grosses.

According to Box Office Mojo, less people attended the movies in the US last year than any year since 1995! A fifteen-year low in movie attendance is a pretty good indicator of a backlash if you ask me.

The economy played a role, but it was intensified by the greed of movie theaters. During the Great Depression, movie theaters DROPPED ticket prices. Last year, theaters not only raised prices, tickets had the largest year-over-year increase since 2001. Of course, how much did the ticket price increase have to do with theater owners being forced to placate producers like Katzenberg by installing new 3-D systems?

It is true that global box office rose in 2009 (2010 numbers aren’t out yet, but they’re likely to be solid). Foreign markets will continue to be the primary growth area for movie studios, but the exorbitant cost of 3-D ticket prices, combined with the rise of home movie theaters, may prove to be the last nail in the coffin for the movie theater experience in the United States.*

(* Just to be clear, I’m not predicting the demise of movies, only movie theaters. Like the music industry, they’ve priced themselves out of existence. In the next ten to fifteen years, I believe audiences in the US will gain the option of streaming new theatrical releases to their home movie theaters or portable devices, thus returning per-viewer “ticket” prices to more normal levels.)