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3D films, primarily Hollywood but also an increasing number of Indian titles, have boosted the theatre business in India in 2022 after several months of covid-induced disruption.

Hollywood hits like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ( 130 crore takings), Thor: Love and Thunder ( 101.71 crore), Jurassic World Dominion ( 68.56 crore) and Black Adam ( 48.13 crore), along with Indian films such as Brahmastra ( 257.44 crore) and RRR ( 902.10 crore) have proven to be a big factor in bringing people to cinemas this year.

Theatre owners are now placing their bets on Avatar: The Way of Water that is due for release in 3D next week.

They said audiences, whether in cities or small towns, invariably choose the 3D version of a film over 2D when they’re playing alongside with the former bringing over 60% of overall revenues. Despite the 20-30% added expense on ticket rates, large-scale spectacles that justify a 3D version see much greater traction.

“The feedback from audiences has been that if the content is good and effects well done, 3D can take the viewing experience to the next level and is an added advantage. In that case, higher ticket rates are not a deterrent across markets," Rajendar Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at INOX Leisure Ltd said.

The 3D wave in India has been led by Hollywood, Jyala said, but the number of local language films incorporating 3D has steadily gone up from around two to nearly 10 annually over the years.

A spokesperson at IMAX said films that had an IMAX 3D component made up 53% of the 2022 IMAX box office for India. Six of the 10 highest-grossing IMAX titles in 2022 so far have had a 3D component, including local Brahmastra and RRR. In fact, Brahmastra is the seventh highest grossing IMAX film of all time and the second highest grossing Indian film all-time, behind K.G F. Chapter 2 which is in IMAX 2D.

To be sure, the sheer cost of making a 3D film remains a challenge. “It takes filmmakers and studios an additional 30-40 crore to ensure a 3D version of the film, which means they need box office of at least 70-75 crore more than what they’re already expecting. That said, all major multiplex chains recognize that 3D is a huge traction for audiences, especially kids, including in tier-two towns. At least one screen in every major property is 3D-enabled," said film distributor and exhibitor Sunny Khanna.

Ticket prices are approximately 40% higher to make up for the cost of production and for cinemas to be equipped larger screens with 3D, said Kunal Sawhney, chief operating officer, MovieMax Cinemas.

What may have been a big pull seven to eight years ago is now mandatory for big tentpole films, said Vishek Chauhan, an independent Bihar-based exhibitor.

“A film like Brahmastra can really reap benefits of VFX because audiences always prefer the 3D version of a film that may also be playing in 2D and showcasing is also decided the same way," Chauhan said.

But, he warned, 3D can also appear gimmicky if the content, especially in case of Indian films, doesn’t demand the format.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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