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Blu-ray 3D Movies Increased 85% in 2012

7 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The number of 3D movies available on Blu-ray Disc topped 200 movies at the end of 2012 — up 85% from the end of 2011 when 108 titles were available in the high-definition format, according to a new research report.

El Segundo, Calif.-based IHS Screen Digest said the number of Blu-ray 3D releases increased by 92 titles in 2012, compared with 71 new titles in 2011. 3D Blu-ray movies launched in 2010 with 37 titles.

Major Hollywood studios have traditionally driven home adoption of 3D until last year when more indie titles were released in the format.

“Early in the life of the format, the slate for BD 3D video introductions closely followed the theatrical 3D schedule, focusing on new-release 3D movies,” said Tony Gunnarsson, analyst for video at IHS. “At the same time, the early home video 3D lineup was biased toward animation and documentaries. But more recently, the format has seen a substantial increase in live-action movies across all genres, including action, adventure, horror, family, music, sci-fi, drama and comedy.”

Gunnarsson said the increase in 3D titles covering both the documentary and erotic film categories have significantly expanded the number 3D BD titles available to U.S. consumers.

The drop in major studio 3D BD titles reflects a change in strategy, as the big players move away from the initial 3D gold rush that followed in the wake of enormously successful Avatar from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The current 3D BD approach is more discerning, according to IHS, and focused on select blockbuster titles, as well as on key catalog 2D to 3D conversions. Examples include The Avengers, I, Robot and Titanic.

Meanwhile, the number of independent 3D BD titles continues to increase rapidly — 55 alone for 2012, compared with 25 in 2011. The rapid expansion of indie titles on 3D BD suggests a level of maturity of the format — 3D BD no longer is the exclusive haunt of the majors, whose 3D output fell from 46 titles in 2011 to 37 in 2012.

For the 3D standard to flow into the far more selective indie film world reflects the improvements in cost and availability of 3D production technology, and is also indicative of broader acceptance and penetration of the medium.

To be sure, 3D BD makes up a small portion — just 8% — of the physical video business. Nonetheless, the format is here to stay. In particular, 2012 could be seen as the point when 3D BD transforms from mere novelty status into a permanent, high-end niche, according to IHS.

Some blockbuster titles have even performed remarkably well, such as the sci-fi movie Prometheus from Fox. Its 3D BD version generated first-week sales equivalent to a quarter of the title’s overall retail takings.

Indeed, 3D BD’s principal point of difference between other video formats afford it inclusion in retail ultimate video packages with multiple discs, priced at a premium above standard 2D Blu-ray versions, according to IHS.

On its uniquely situated perch, 3D BD could represent a coveted goal for upscaling among consumers, while serving up hopes for industry players that, even in a declining physical video market, some formats may still be able to maintain the value of the video disc, said the research firm.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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