ShoWest, the motion picture industry’s convention dedicated to the worldwide theater industry, had one hot topic on every studio’s mind; 3D. The biggest player in the newly reinvented movie experience is the one and only Walt Disney Co.

What’s old is new

3D movies have been around almost as long as movie theaters themselves. From the cheesy paper glasses and the, usually, bad movies 3D films have been associated with in the past that technology gained a certain reputation in the industry and in the public’s perception of quality.

Fast forward to Epcot and an amazing series of 3D films the Disney Co. started to show throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. The quality and the movie-going experience was nothing like the days gone by, but finally delivered on an amazing, realistic 3D experience.

Disney’s 3D releases seem to find box-office gold as well. Out of the $375 million earned in 3D titles in 2007, Disney took the lion’s share at $300 million. Some of the pictures slated for release from the mouse house are:

  • Toy Story – October 2, 2009
  • Toy Story 2 – October 2, 2009
  • Beauty and the Beast -February 12, 2010
  • A Christmas Carol – Estimated release 2010
  • Alice in Wonderland  – Estimated release 2010
  • Tron – Estimated release 2010
  • Toy Story 3 – June 18, 2010


ShoWest is the premiere convention to cater to theater owners. At this year’s convention 3D was all the rage and it is clear that Disney is the major player in the arena. Disney is going to provide 9 out of 22 pictures, slated for 2011, in 3D; three times the number of the next closest studio- Dreamworks Animation. Disney even showed nearly 50 minutes of Disney/Pixar’s next release, UP, which is Pixar’s first release in 3D.

One of the key points that is going to effect this technology is the cost of admission. Although it is costly to simultaneously shoot the film in 3d, I am not sure the studios can expect to require a premium for ticket prices to recoup their investment. Currently tickets are about $3.00 more for a 3D ticket and about $5.00 more for an IMAX 3D experience. There has been somewhat of a revolt from the consumer about ticket prices in general so a premium on evolving technology may not be met with the open-arms and wide acceptance from consumers that the theater owners are expecting.

With the economy being the way it is, the value of a 3D movie must go beyond the guest’s expectation and exceed all previous experiences. If you have sat through, say, MuppetVision 3D you can believe that Disney will deliver the quality and you may be willing to ante up for the experience. I am not sure, however, it is worth the premium and would think there will be a backlash if the consumers see this as a gimmicky way for theater owners to make a couple of extra bucks when people already feel stiffed by the prices of the products of the snacks.

Wrapping it Up

It seems to only make sense in my mind that Disney would be such a key player in the newest technology to hit movie theaters in years. From the great films in the parks they have learned a lot about the technology and the guest’s expectations. I think it will be interesting to see how this develops over time; if it becomes the standard that the studios hope for of if it will be just another passing fad like it was in the fifties.