Viewers like 3D spectacle in the theatre, but not in their homes

3D televisions were in every showroom just a few years ago, but manufacturers are pulling back due to low demand

Viewers watching a film in 3d

(Boness/IPON/Ullstein Bild/Getty)

As the saying goes, 3D is dead, long live 3D!

Reports out of South Korea indicate that Samsung and LG, two of the biggest television manufacturers in the world, are either killing off or significantly curtailing 3D production.

Samsung is not including 3D in any new TVs in 2016, while LG is cutting the feature back to 20% of new sets, from 40%, according to South Korea’s ET News.

The news shouldn’t surprise anyone. 3D was touted as a big new feature by manufacturers a few years ago, but even then it was greeted with skepticism. No one believed that consumers would want to wear glasses while watching TV – and everyone was right.

3D’s fate in theatres is not quite as clear cut. For a while, it looked like it was also on its way out. About 41% of movie goers said they preferred films in 3D in 2014, down from two-thirds in 2010.

3D’s share of box office revenue also slid to about 16% in 2014 from more than 20% in 2010, according to analysis firm IHS.

But 2013 and 2014 represented a bottoming out, with the technology bouncing back in 2015 on huge hits such as Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Film studios have learned which films to release in 3D, and evidently those movies are the big action blockbusters.

The number of 3D screens worldwide thus increased about 15% in 2015 to 74,560, or more than half of all digital screens, from 64,760, according to new figures from IHS.

Here in Canada, Cineplex confirms that trend. The company says it is seeing increased demand for 3D across its 162 theatres.

The chain doesn’t break out 3D revenue specifically, but says that “premium movie experiences” accounted for 47% of total box office revenue in the fourth quarter alone. 3D is by far the largest component of that, according to a spokesperson.

So there you have it. 3D may be dead in the living room, but it looks like it’s here to stay on the big screen.