From the files of "There's no such thing as a free lunch": According to THR, Sony has informed theaters owners that the studio will no longer pay for 3D glasses after May 1, 2012. After that, the bill for 3D glasses -- which cost Sony between $5 and $10 million nationwide -- will have to be picked up by theater owners and consumers. "This is an issue that has to be resolved between us and our exhibition partners," said Rory Bruer, Sony worldwide president of distribution. "We are trying to give them a very lengthy lead time in regards to the change in policy." Which is nice, but how much is it going to cost Joe Ticket?
Based on national averages, 3D glasses cost studios around 50 cents per ticket sold. The product itself -- which Real3D provides almost exclusively -- costs even less to make. Of course, that doesn't mean the glasses would be sold for peanuts; Sony is offering up the idea that the glasses could be a new revenue stream for exhibitors. The only problem? The exhibitors don't want to buy the glasses either.
According to "one source in the exhibition community," theater owners aren't pleased they had to spend money to upgrade to 3D screens -- screens which have been seen by fewer and fewer eyeballs as the 3D fab wanes. Incurring the cost of 3D glasses apparently feels like too much to bear.
As for ticket buyers, it's unclear whether they would be allowed to actually keep the glasses for future use (doubtful) or forced to return them like bowling shoes at the end of a showing. (It's worth pointing out that this is practiced already in the U.K, Australia, Spain and Italy.) As Breur said, this decision is a long way off -- Sony has two 3D tentpoles, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' and 'Men in Black III,' set for next summer -- but you can bet other studios will be watching the reactions closely.
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