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With all the hoopla about Jurassic World's huge box office intake, I'm left wondering how much of this came from the fact that 3D movie tickets cost so much more. How much do 3D tickets actually affect box office? Have there been any studies with specific figures, and is there a way to look at movie prices and 3D prices separately, similar to adjusting for inflation?

  • Old but interesting article about Avatar: ropeofsilicon.com/… – Catija Jun 29 '15 at 18:33
  • When the money is not the relevant number why not look at the number of visitors? You should adjust to the possible audience (population size) when comparing figures from different times. – his Jun 29 '15 at 20:53
  • @his - If doing that, you'd also need to factor in the number of screens which showed said movie. There are other factors which would create more chaos in your scheme as well. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 29 '15 at 20:55
  • Honestly, this has been an issue for much longer than just 3D films. Films designed for children have always complained that their opening box-office numbers look worse than they are because they don't account for the fact that tickets for kids are usually less expensive than for adults. The only way they could make it truly even is to go by admission numbers rather than dollars. – Catija Jun 29 '15 at 21:02
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    @Paulster2 Why is counting money better than counting seats sold? – Catija Jun 29 '15 at 21:13
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Firstly, it's important to note that 3D cinema is unquestionably in decline. Box office takings suggest that 3D ticket sales have been receding since Avatar, which is a consumer behaviour that puts 3D cinema aligned with little more than a fad, an certainly an outgoing trend.

Whilst the above link only explores UK box office, this shouldn't be seen as limiting in its scope: the UK is often used as a testing ground for new cinema technology, as it's a smaller market that creates more predictable results to be extrapolated across other territories: consumer behaviour in the UK is often a dependable trendsetter.

Those figures would suggest that on average only 18% of a films revenue can be attributed to 3D sales. We can work out how any tickets that equates to in your example, Jurassic World.

World Wide Gross = $1,561,318,770

I'm unfamiliar with average 3D ticket prices and their comparison to 2D in anywhere but the UK, so I'm going to have to exchange currency with Sterling (£) and hope the costs are similar when converting back to USD ($).Obviously all these working out are using averages so will not be accurate, but representative of what industry trends would suggest based on known variables.

So $1,561,318,770 = £1,007,705,517 at current exchange rate.

18% of this (total 3D revenue) would be £181,386,993.


Actual 'Bums on seats' Sales:

If the average 3D ticket in the UK is £10, its an easy calculation that 18 Million 3D tickets were sold for Jurassic World, worldwide.

Compare this to 2D Sales (82% of total gross) = £826,318,524

Divided by average ticket cost of only £6, gives 137,719,754 2D tickets sold.

So, despite Box Office takings, the total amount of cinema audience who chose to see Jurassic World in 3D equates to around:

8%

We should also factor in the additional costs of making a 3D film when weighing up the income gained.

The difference in production cost between a 2D and 3D film is something still not openly discussed by studios, but it's safe to assume it's considerable.

There are two ways to produce a 3D film: shooting stereoscopically, and post-production conversion.

Conversion is the cheapest and nastiest way, and certainly not how Jurassic World was shot: I only include cost speculations here for comparison and rule of thumb for interested parties.

Conversion to 3D is rumoured to cost between $100,000 - $120,000 per minute: but lets be generous and put it at the lower end of that scale, which converts to £64,576 per minute.

Jurassic World has a run time of 2hrs 5 mins, or 125mins.

So £64,576 X 125 = £8,072,000 (pre-box office cost of 3D)

£181,386,993 - £8,072,000 = £173.314993 million (True profit from 3D sales, est.) or $267.54M

Jurassic World was shot using stereoscopic camera's, which (as Invalid_id has pointed out previously) is a technique said to cost 2-4x more than conventional 2D filming.

Jurassic World's pre P&P budget is estimated at $150 Million, so we'll jump down the middle and say the actual production cost (excluding salaries etc.) would have been 60% cheaper should they have shot using only 2D.

That's a cost of $90,000,000 to make the film 3D.


In conclusion, the net financial gain from shooting Jurassic World in 3D is

$190M

($279842038.93 - $90M).


  • Interesting answer. But you might want to point out the ultimate conlcusions (if any) a little more from all those calculations and numbers. Also, I'm a little confused, it seems you have used the $267.54M from after subtracting conversion costs in the computation for stereo-shooting profit, thus you computed the profit after 3D conversion and stereo shooting, two exclusive options. Or did I misinterpret that? – Napoleon Wilson Aug 7 '15 at 14:22
  • No you're right, that's a mistake. It should have been gross 3D ticket profit, which would be $280M, not $267. I'll amend accordingly. – John Smith Optional Aug 7 '15 at 14:26
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    I'm not saying that 3D sales are great... but that article seems to ignore the fact that, particularly in the last year discussed, all ticket sales declined... and even the 3D decline wasn't huge. I don't really know that it takes into account a variety of factors... And Avatar was a banner film for 3D, so it's sort of unfair to compare all films afterwards to it. Plus, cinemas only have so many 3D screens. There are a lot of other factors that article ignores. slashfilm.com/… – Catija Aug 7 '15 at 14:45
  • mitigating factors only suggest reasons why 3D cinema is in decline, they don't argue with the fact that it is... and whilst you're correct in saying Avatar was a banner film: if 3D cinema's first success remains its high water mark after 6 years, it suggests a lack of innovation & progress for the medium. Avatar was a 3D showcase, and we haven't seen it's like since. – John Smith Optional Aug 7 '15 at 15:07

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