Is The 3D Movie Fad Over Yet?

When the blue-skinned do-gooder hippies of Avatar were unleashed on movie screens last December, nearly three quarters of its opening weekend revenue came from people watching it in 3D. Since then, just about every major action or animated movie has been released in 3D, but often to diminishing results.

So far in 2010, the amount of opening weekend revenue coming from 3D screens has been trending downward. Alice In Wonderland saw percentages close to Avatar’s level, but by the time Toy Story 3 hit screens, only 60% of opening weekend sales came from 3D tickets. That number dropped even further for the July release of Despicable Me, where 45% of people who saw it on the first weekend chose to see it in 3D.

With more than 60 3D movies slated for release in the foreseeable future, studios and exhibitors are pish-poshing the idea that people are tiring of paying $4-5 extra per ticket… or wearing uncomfortable 3D glasses… or watching movies where the 3D was done as a shoddy post-production afterthought.

Says a dude from the National Association of Theater Owners, right after he tried to upsell you to the Super Value Snack Deal, “It does not show that fewer people are choosing 3D… The audience for 3D is growing, right along with the 3D screen count.

Similarly, the president of distribution for Warner Bros. wants everyone to know the sky isn’t falling. “You can’t look at just three or four movies in a row and say it’s over,” he explains, saying that the reason family films like Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me aren’t doing Avatar-like percentages is that “It’s just hard for kids under 6 years old to keep the glasses on.”

An unnamed executive at an exhibition chain sums up the problem pretty well: “Pricing and crappy content isn’t going to permanently railroad 3D… but it isn’t going to help it, either.”

What are your feelings on 3D? Who wants to go see Step Up 3D with me this weekend? Fine… I’ll just go on my own.

3D at the Box Office: Down, Down, Down [TheWrap via LA Times]