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Report: 3-D Movies Coming Home, Someday

31 Mar, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The proliferation of 3-D movies theatrically has given credence to a future market for 3-D content in the home without the need for special glasses, according to a new report.

London-based Screen Digest said there were seven films released in 3-D in 2008, a tally that will more than double in 2009 with 17 titles, including the just released Monsters vs. Aliens from DreamWorks Animation.

Another 28 movies in 3-D are due to be released in 2010, spearheaded by animation releases from The Walt Disney Co. and DreamWorks, which together account for more than half of the 3-D film release slate.

The market for 3-D home entertainment is predicated on the development of an autostereoscopic-based standard that can be piggybacked on Blu-ray Disc due to the format’s expanded data storage capacity.

Autostereoscopy is a way of displaying three-dimensional images that can be viewed without the use of special glasses. This method produces depth perception even though the image is displayed on a flat screen device. Three dimension visuals require twice the broadcast bandwidth of two-dimensional (standard-DVD) viewing.

“What 3-D offers the studios and pay TV operators is an opportunity to charge a premium for content, perhaps even more so than high definition,” said Marie Bloomfield, analyst at Screen Digest.

Indeed, Canadian manufacturer Spatial View this week at MacWorld Canada unveiled its 3DeeShell for the Apple iPhone. The application allows users to view 3-D content on the iPhone or PC without glasses.

Screen Digest said elimination of 3-D glasses would increase popularity of the format in the home, with the percentage of TVs sold with 3-D capability exceeding 10% worldwide by 2011, and 16% by 2015 with just over 2.8 billion units sold.

Without a standard, Screen Digest said just 3% of TV sales would include 3-D by 2015 or 500 million units.

“3-D in the home will therefore be a slow burn, remaining a niche business for the foreseeable future,” Bloomfield said.

At this week’s ShoWest in Las Vegas, 20th Century Fox Studios said it would ask theater owners to share in the cost of distributing 3D glasses, reportedly about $1 million per movie release. Fox July 1 releases Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs in 3-D.

The report suggested it might be 3-D games and not movies that take hold in the home first. Gaming is an early adopter market, with upgradeable consoles and software, and gamers are more willing to adopt peripherals such as glasses, all of which make it an ideal home entry point for the technology.

In other words, 3-D connoisseurs should keep the goofy glasses nearby.


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