All summer I've noticed this new trend of blockbuster movies only being released in 3D for the first week/weekend in theatres - Spider-Man 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes...and now Guardians of the Galaxy.

I don't want to see movies in 3D so I'm having to wait an extra week to watch them (they show in 2D the second week). I thought it was because I live in a smaller city and my local theatre was not getting the 2D version...but even looking at showtimes for large cities that I could maybe travel to, to watch in 2D (ie: Vancouver, BC) don't have the movie in 2D the first week/weekend.

Why is this? Are studios trying to force us to watch in 3D the first week/weekend so they can make extra money to cover the extra cost of making their movie 3D?

  • Yeah, gonna need you to provide an example, specifically which theater chain you frequent. I haven't heard anything supporting this, and I work for a theater chain. However, outside of the US I likely couldn't tell you.
    – MattD
    Jul 29, 2014 at 1:54
  • Yeah, so...the words "ie: Vancouver, BC", in the question, are a link to an example. Jul 29, 2014 at 2:33
  • Which theater, specifically? How many screens?
    – MattD
    Jul 29, 2014 at 2:38
  • Cineplex and Famous Players complexes with 10-20 screens (in the Vancouver, BC link example). Jul 29, 2014 at 3:33

2 Answers 2


While I work for a US theater, I honestly want to say this is simply your local theater and/or theater chain doing this, and not necessarily the studios themselves, however I have no real basis for this other than my own observations.

Here in the US, both the studio and theater work out agreements as to how many prints/copies the theater will buy, and how many times the movie will be shown each week, including the earliest and latest start times for the prints they pick up. These can sometimes be renegotiated, but are often set in stone for at least the next week. After that, negotiations take place based on how the film performed in the previous week, and what it's up against that week. They may expand, they may scale it back, they may decide to stop showing it early. Aside from how many prints they buy and how many times they show it, they also negotiate the studio's cut of the profits from ticket sales. This usually scales back each week the movie is in theaters.

Could be the studio is pushing your theater chain to exhibit only 3D showings in the first week, or it could be your theater is deciding to exhibit movies in 3D for the first week before exhibiting 2D. If the theater you go to has very few screens they may be going for the higher upsell in the first week, then scaling back to cheaper screenings in 2D in the following weeks.

The theater I work for here in the Midwest has both 3D and 2D showings, and we actually tend to prioritize 2D showings on our largest screen. Overall we have more than 15 screens total for the location I'm employed with. We have early showings of Guardians of the Galaxy this Thursday, and all early showings on our largest screen are in 2D, though we will be offering the 3D version for patrons who want it.

In the end, the only thing you can do would be to contact your specific theater and ask why. Unfortunately there's likely very little you can do about it, as I can't imagine they'd continue to do it were it not seen as profitable to them, or if the studios are telling them they have to exhibit movies in 3D (when applicable) in the first week if they want to get prints.

  • Interesting. I find it very strange that a large city like Vancouver would not have 1 theatre showing a 2D version of the movie on the first weekend...so it must be a contract with the major theatre complexes up here in Canada. Jul 29, 2014 at 3:35
  • Maybe they fear piracy and consider the 3D version harder to record or something?
    – Mario
    Jul 29, 2014 at 7:27
  • Could be, but then why not just keep every showing in 3D?
    – MattD
    Jul 29, 2014 at 11:26
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    I just find it odd that it seems non-American theaters are apparently moving towards only showcasing movies in 3D if they're available in 3D. I know here in the States there would be plenty of angry people if movies available in 3D were only screened in 3D, at an added cost to the consumer. As I noted in my answer, my theater has moved towards showing the 2D version on our biggest screen, where as a few years ago we prioritized the 3D version. Kids films especially see a higher preference for 2D over 3D due to the added cost.
    – MattD
    Jul 29, 2014 at 15:40
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    Spoke with my local theatre and it is indeed a requirement from the studio/distributor that certain movies must be shown in 3D only, for the first week, to capitalize on the extra revenue. Jul 30, 2014 at 2:57

I spoke with my local theatre manager and it is indeed a requirement from the studios/distributors that certain movies must be shown in 3D only, for the first week, to capitalize on the extra revenue. It was also mentioned that this summer has had more 3D movies than past summer so it's been a noticeable trend and has been met with many complaints.

  • Glad you were able to get to the bottom of it. Definitely seems like a jerk move on the part of the studios to require your local theater chains to showcase all 3D movies only in 3D for the first week they're out in order to capitalize on the markup. Hopefully if enough people complain to the theater, they can make a case to the studios to not do that, but I have a feeling their request wouldn't be met.
    – MattD
    Jul 30, 2014 at 14:27
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    My wife hates 3D and while I prefer 2D will view a movie in 3D if I must. However in order to convince my wife to accompany me to new releases I had to make some 2D conversion glasses for her to wear. This is quite simple - replace the RH filter in a pair of 3D glasses with the LH filter from another pair. This makes both lenses filter out the same image, presenting her with a single image - thus converting the 3D projection into a 2D image.
    – mwotton
    Nov 9, 2014 at 23:36

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