3D movies by the numbers

3D movies by the numbers (photo)

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When I went to see “Captain America: The First Avenger,” last weekend, I picked a 2D screening. I’ve grown increasingly disenchanted with films shot in 2D and exhibited in 3D like “Captain America,” so I figured I’d save a few bucks. But when I arrived at the theater for the film, there was a problem: the management had booked a 2D “Cap” screening into an auditorium configured for 3D. After a few minutes scrambling to change their projector, the theater staff announced that nothing could be done: the film would be shown in 3D and everyone would be given a pair of free 3D glasses.

At that point, the entire sold-out theater of some 400 people burst into boos.

Clearly I wasn’t the only one getting disenchanted with these 2.5D movies. Maybe that’s why I was so interested to read this recent essay on DavidBordwell.net by Kristin Thompson. Her information might not be new, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen box office statistics for 3D movies analyzed so thoroughly and so cogently. All her facts and figures are widely available on sites like Box Office Mojo, but they’re lacking Thompson’s common sense analysis and smart criticism.

I’m particularly impressed with the way Thompson breaks down the percentages of grosses that movies like “Captain America” make from 3D and 2D theaters. She begins by asking a simple but important question: how much money do 3D movies really bring in?

“The basic fact is that the money brought in by a film made in 3D only amounts to the supplement paid by the spectator beyond what he or she would have paid if the film were in 2D. Let’s assume that the supplement is $3 and that a 3D admission costs $12 and a 2D one $9… removing the $3 supplement takes away 25% of the ticket price. So what the 3D process as such really adds to the box-office total is 10% (that’s 25% of 40% [of all tickets sold for a movie available in either 3D and 2D]). To put it another way, $9 of the $12 for the ticket is just for the film qua film, the rest is for its being in 3D.”

A great point that no one ever mentions. When we say “This movie made $35 million dollars at its 3D theaters,” we’re not considering the fact that 75% of the $35 million customers paid was for the film itself, with just the remaining 25% relating to the upcharge of 3D. And here’s one more great point:

“Consider the opening weekend of ‘Captain America,’ which grossed $65.7 million, 40% of which came from theaters equipped with 3D. But it’s really 10% by my reasoning, so it’s not $26.3 million that 3D generated, but $6.57 million. Assuming further that it costs about $30 million to make a film in 3D or convert it to 3D in post-production, ‘Captain America’ would have to run in the U.S. market for around four weeks with no decline in attendance to break even on 3D. But most films decline on their second weekend, unless they open in more theaters or have terrific word of mouth. Even “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which had lots of repeat business, declined 19% on its second weekend.”

Thompson’s math might not be perfect; I think $30 million is the generally reported cost to shoot a movie in 3D like “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Converting a 2D movie like “Captain America” to 3D in post-production is significantly less expensive. Still Thompson’s reasoning is sound: if only 10% of a film’s grosses can be set aside to offset the cost of 3D, a movie earning just 40% of its money from 3D screens would have to be an enormous box office hit to justify its production or conversion in the format. It’s sort of an economies of scale issue: if you’ve got a “Transformers” or a “Pirates of the Caribbean,” movies that routinely gross near a billion dollars worldwide, the 3D pays for itself and more. But if you’ve got a smaller film with a chillier box office forecast — something on par with, say, “The Green Hornet” or “Green Lantern” — you face an uphill battle returning your investment in 3D. That goes for movie theaters too — if movies like “Captain America” begin to earn more money on 2D screens than on 3D screens — even though people are paying more per ticket for 3D — you could quickly begin to see exhibitors switch back to 2D to improve their revenues.

If these trends in 3D attendance continue, I think we may (finally) see fewer 3D titles, particularly in that middle-tier of medium budgeted event movies. At least I hope so.

Did you go see “Captain America” in 2D or 3D? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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