The tickets sales have been tabulated for 2017, and it doesn’t look good for 3D films.
It’s only been just over eight years since James Cameron blew the doors off of 3D films with his epic, “Avatar,” in 2009. That film helped catapult 3D ticket sales to an astronomical $2.2 billion in 2010, ushering in what was supposed to be the wave of the future. However, since 2010, sales of 3D tickets have decreased each year, with 2017 being the lowest.
According to a recent report by the Motion Picture Association of America, 2017 saw an 18% decrease in 3D ticket sales from the previous year, with a total of $1.3 billion. This resulted in the worst showing for 3D films at the box office since 2009, the year before “Avatar.” Now, some might point to the fact that all ticket sales are trending down for theaters, but the drops are much more significant for 3D films. General ticket sales in 2017 were only off 2% from the previous year.
There are a variety of factors that have contributed to the lower ticket sales. The decrease in demand over recent years has resulted in theaters pulling back on the number of 3D showings. There’s also less “must-see” 3D films each year. While previous years have given titles like “Avatar,” “Gravity,” and “Alice in Wonderland,” which have all been benchmarks for 3D films, there haven’t been many marquee titles that are supposed to move 3D forward. In fact, most of the 3D box office comes from 3D conversions of superhero films.
However, we can’t count 3D out just yet. Yes, it’s almost three years out, but in December 2020, James Cameron is returning to theaters with his long-awaited sequel to “Avatar.” And with Fox reportedly greenlighting 4 sequels to the highest-grossing film in history, perhaps James Cameron is the guy who will save 3D, yet again.
Unfortunately, with the 3D ticket sales trending this low, it might be too little, too late.