The 3D revolution, which has been devolving for about three years now, continues its rapid decent into the dustbins of history (it is not coming soon enough in this critic’s opinion). On September 27th, Sony took a bold stand when it announced that it would no longer foot the bill for the 3D glasses that have been provided for the past 7 or 8 years to those willing to pay the $5 added upcharge.
The question remains, however, as to who is going to pay for them. Somebody has to, right?
What happened from Sony’s end is that they want the consumer (that’s you and me) to buy their own glasses. In hard economic times, it seems feasible to them that we should buy our own glasses rather than recycling them. This doesn’t make the National Association of Theater Owners very happy. They issued a statement in response to Sony’s announcement which said this:
(Washington, D.C. And North Hollywood, CA – September 28, 2011) Recent press reports indicate that Sony has decided to stop providing 3-D glasses to consumers and wants moviegoers to buy their own glasses. NATO believes Sony’s suggestion is insensitive to our patrons, particularly in the midst of continuing economic distress. Sony’s actions raise serious concerns for our members who believe that provision of 3-D glasses to patrons is well established as part of the 3-D experience.
While each exhibition company must make its own decision as to how to handle its business arrangements and how to respond to this development, we are concerned that Sony’s attempt to change this business model would unilaterally upend long-standing industry practices. Since the onset of the digital 3-D revolution in 2005 it has been understood that exhibitors would bear the weight of technological and facility modification costs related to 3-D, while distribution took on the cost of 3-D glasses. Any changes to that understanding must be undertaken through the mutual agreement of both sides of the business. The recent uproar over four studios’ unilateral decision to radically shorten the theatrical release window for their failed DirecTV premium VOD experiment vividly illustrates the downside of movie studios announcing fundamental changes to business models without negotiating with their exhibition partners first.
Sony would be well advised to revisit its decision.
The question now is, what does that mean for the consumer? Will you buy the 3D glasses?