There is a movie I want to watch at the theater, it is offered in 3D.

I have never watched a theater movie in 3D, I think I want to try it.

Are 3D glasses needed?

If so are they provided?

If they are provided would a better experience be had, by purchasing 3D glasses?

So I am I clueless, what do I need to know before walking up to the counter and purchasing a ticket to a 3D movie?

  • 4
    Note: in some theaters (in France at least), cheap glasses are sold (for a small price like 1 euro), so you buy them the first time and you reuse them afterward (if you thought about bringing them).
    – SylvainD
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 23:13
  • 30
    Sit in the middle.
    – MooseBoys
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 2:55
  • 54
    Don’t wear the eyepatch that you’re wearing in your profile picture.
    – zero298
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 8:11
  • 1
    I've never been to a 3d movie that didn't give me AND my wife terrible migraines. Maybe bring aspirin just in case.
    – user58113
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 17:30
  • 3
    INSPECT YOUR GLASSES! I took my nephew to see some lego movie in 3D (also my first time at a 3D movie) and the glasses that were handed to me were damaged by the previous user. Be sure to inspect the lenses of the glasses you are given. They should both be flat and not pressed out into a mound like mine were. I got to sit through the whole thing with my eyes closed because I got a headache with or without the glasses because only one of the lenses worked; which basically meant that I didn't get any 3D effect at all. Also consider bringing a lens cleaning cloth.
    – Zhro
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 6:07

7 Answers 7


Are 3D glasses needed?

Yes. While not as bad as the early days of 3D where viewing without glasses meant red and blue headaches for days, the video will look slightly off. Note that many films have scenes, not the whole film in 3D, so you may still enjoy the experience overall.

If so are they provided?

Yes. I am not aware of any theater that doesn't provide glasses. The glasses will typically fit over prescription eyeglasses without modification.

If they are provided would a better experience be had, by purchasing 3D glasses?

You won't know until you try them--if you intend to make a habit of it it might be worthwhile, but you run the risk that the technology used for the effect will change and you will have to repurchase your glasses.

So I am I clueless, what do I need to know before walking up to the counter and purchasing a ticket to a 3D movie?

You may experience eye strain and motion sickness, and possibly discomfort due to poorly fitting glasses. However it will be a novel experience, and hopefully as enjoyable as seeing a movie in 2D.

  • 7
    Yes. My husband wears glasses and has not had problems, though they may feel awkward when you first put them on.
    – Marisa
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 18:37
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    @JamesJenkins The 3d glasses at my local cinema fit over my prescription glasses. If the frame is small (e.g., no "hipster" glasses) it should be fine. BUT they do not fit as snugly as without glasses and takes constant adjustment throughout the movie. If possible, get one-time use contact lenses, the experience is much better. This is just personal preference, but I prefer 2d movies due to my prescription. Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 19:23
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    In my experience, the 3D glasses are a "one size fits none" type of deal, especially if you already wear glasses. You'll spend the movie constantly trying to adjust the two pairs of glasses to try and see something like the intended picture, but it's a losing proposition. Add the fact that the 3D glasses make things significantly darker, plus the inevitable headache from the eyestrain, and the end result is that I avoid 3D movies like the plague they are.
    – Martha
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 20:18
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    I would not purchase my own 3D glasses because in my area there is more than one type of 3D technology in use, and the different technologies use different glasses. Also, the technologies and glasses have changed over the years, so buying glasses is likely to leave you stuck with 3D glasses that you can't use for any movie and you'd still have to grab a theater pair before going in just in case something has changed. So you might as well just always use a theater pair. Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 21:01
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    @JamesJenkins - In case you'd prefer a first-hand answer, I've had to start wearing glasses for nearsightedness the last few years, and yes the 3D glasses are always designed to fit over your normal glasses just fine. The only caveat I'd give is that the double-glasses thing makes your glasses far more likely to fog up. If you don't want to have to wag your head a lot to clear them, make sure not to overdress, or to wear layers so you can dress down at your seat to a point where you won't be warm.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 22:08

If they are provided would a better experience be had, by purchasing 3D glasses?

I wouldn't bother. There is no one pair of glasses you can buy that just "does 3D".

There are many different ways to display 3D, all of which would use slightly different glasses. So basically, if I was hardcore enough to want to do this, I'd have to check every movie beforehand to make sure my glasses were compatible with how that movie's production company decided to encode 3D on the print of the movie sent to my theater (or to pick the right 3D glasses from my stockpile I had to buy to support every 3D tech in use in the movie industry).

  • Would you mind if I added your information to my 3rd line item? This is basically what I was trying to say for that part.
    – Marisa
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 19:42
  • Go for it. This answer was honestly kind of mooching off yours (in not bothering to answer the rest) anyway.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 20:46
  • @Marisa - ...or as the hat system termed it, "extra toppings."
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 0:44
  • Aren't 3D movies usually distributed digitally? I don't think there is any print to take into account. But the glasses do have to be compatible with the projection equipment used by the cinema.
    – kasperd
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 1:24
  • @kasperd - I believe they are still called "prints", no matter what the medium is. If not, I'll fix the terminology.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 2:50

Glasses are required, but are provided. I don't think buying your own will be worth it—the technology could change over time and may be different between theaters.

Many movies are provided in 3D, but not all scenes from a movie are shot in 3D. Some CGI effects are slightly different between versions.

This usually does not make a difference and the movie looks great. However, I prefer Rogue One in 2D because the CGI effects to make actors look young again didn't translate gracefully to 3D (maybe the details were just overlooked by the editors, I don't know).

Some people report motion sickness-type feelings. It isn't common.

Personal preference: I bet you'll have fun and love it, but nowadays, I always prefer 2D movies: I don't hassle with holding and wearing glasses (especially the weird feeling of having glasses on over my normal glasses); I feel I can "take in" the movie better (see and understand the whole picture at once); and I don't worry about messed up CGI details.


You should be aware that while most people enjoy 3d movies, a significant minority either can't see the 3d effect, or have an adverse reaction to it. Statistics vary, but about 10% of the population is stereo blind and as many as 1 in 4 report eyestrain, headaches, or motion sickness. A recent study suggests that only a third of people have no problems at all viewing 3d movies, and that about 20% of 3d movies have technical errors that are likely to cause problems (e.g. scenes with the left and right images swapped).

Don't let that put you off, the chances are you'll be fine, but if you do feel unwell don't feel you have to stay in the cinema and suffer. The worst experience I ever had in a cinema was trying to watch Avatar in 3d; I wish I'd left after five minutes.


If you have a vision impairment, you're gonna have a bad time.

The magic in 3D cinema technology relies on relatively good vision in both eyes. If you have poor vision in even just one eye, you will barely, if at all, see any 3D effects and walk out of the film with a headache.

For people who don't know if their vision impairment is going to get in the way of a 3D film, a good test is to ask yourself if you could/can see the 3D effects on a Nintendo 3DS.


One other thing to keep in mind with current 3D technology is that it depends on stereoscopic vision—each eye sees a slightly different (flat) image, which your brain then integrates into a single, 3 dimensional image. That might sound obvious, but it means that some folks with particular kinds of vision issues won't be able to see the 3D effect the way it is intended (one of my children has strabismus, and doesn't enjoy 3D movies as a result). Some individuals may not even be aware of having a minor problem until they try to watch a 3D movie and discover that it doesn't work for them.

  • “with current 3D technology”: is there any 3D technology that doesn't depend on stereoscopic vision?
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 10:49
  • Well, there's sculpture ;). But that caveat was meant to "future proof" the answer, as it's possible some other tech will be developed eventually (I'm imagining some SF-type thing, like a Star Trek style solid hologram or a direct brain interface). Not likely in the immediate future, but those of us with children who are left out of the current cinematic trend can dream!
    – 1006a
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 16:55

So I am I clueless, what do I need to know before walking up to the counter and purchasing a ticket to a 3D movie?

Other answers already mentioned most of what you need to know, but there is something else you might want to consider. If you're not comfortable wearing glasses (even if you're just slightly uncomfortable) or simply not used to wearing them, the 3D glasses will make you pretty uncomfortable throughout the entire movie. I saw the Last Jedi in 3D last week, but I left with a pretty big headache due to this.

It doesn't take away much from the enjoyment from the movie, but it is something to keep in mind. I personally tend to avoid 3D movies because of this.

  • “If you're not comfortable wearing glasses ..., the 3D glasses will make you pretty uncomfortable”: something of a tautology, isn't it?
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 10:50
  • Yeah, reading it again makes it seem pretty obvious... But I found the 3D glasses to be worse then "regular" sun glasses. My sun glasses I can wear for a decent amount of time without issues, but 3D glasses not.
    – Dnomyar96
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 11:26

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