The New 3D: Moving From Theater to Home
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Published October 2009. ©2009 Interpret, LLC
Catalyst: At theaters, there’s no shortage of 3D content. It has reinvigorated the film industry,
boosted box office receipts and has given consumers a reason to go back to the big screen. The
upcoming release of “Avatar” has once again spurred hope in the home 3D marketplace. But
what does the growth of 3D content in the theater mean for the home video consumer?
• Will home 3D television sets become a reality?
• What hurdles do entertainment and hardware companies face to mainstream adoption of
3D in the home?
Core Finding: While companies such as Philips, Toshiba, and Sony are dipping their toes into
the home 3D water, consumer adoption faces two parallel hurdles: the need to buy new set tops
and the availability of 3D content. Additionally, the lack of standards (both in the theater as well
as in the digital home) stymies the growth of the marketplace.
Home 3D Will Need to Overcome Significant Inhibitors To Become Mainstream
Technology. The explosion of 3D content for theatrical release has been impressive in 2009,
with approximately 30 3D movies released in 2009. According to the Society of Motion Picture
and Television Engineers, movies released in 3D earn two to three times the revenue of the same
titles in 2D. There is clearly consumer demand for 3D content, as it has reinvigorated the theater
box office. Yet the film industry will play a less significant role in the growth of home 3D than
hardware, console and gaming players. The growth of home 3D is dependent upon the alignment
of multiple constituencies, which face significant barriers including:
• Lack of standards. Many hardware and software manufacturers are waiting until the
market produces advanced 3D standards for the home, rather than risk releasing
products that may be incompatible. While theatrical exhibitors have been able to agree
on 3D technology standards, home technology companies still have a long way to go.
• Lack of content. As with the advent of other high definition technologies, there is a
chicken-and-egg dynamic for the development of content. Studios are trying to learn from
the last standards war with Blu-Ray and HD DVDs. Dreamworks, Paramount Pictures,
and Universal Studios had aligned with Toshiba’s HD DVD format – an unwise move in
retrospect as Sony’s Blu-Ray emerged as the standard for high definition content. Yet as
studios adopt a wait-and-see approach to home 3D, consumers wait to purchase 3D
capable sets until there is enough compelling content.
• Requires glasses. Most 3D, both for the home and theater, uses anaglyph images
(made up of two color layers superimposed) that require glasses to see depth difference.
While this might seem like a major barrier, it is too early to say if that will prevent
consumer home adoption. Consumers have demonstrated they’re willing to use glasses
in a theater. They’ve shown they’re willing to watch full movies on an iphone scree