Moviegoers hoping to be occasionally not disappointed by 3-D will have to pay a little extra for that privilege come May 2012, when Sony Pictures becomes the first of what’s expected to be many studios who will stop paying for the 3-D glasses required to sort-of enjoy them. Right now the cost of supplying said glasses for a major tentpole movie (such as Sony’s upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man or Men In Black 3-D) can fall anywhere between $5 and $10 million. As that sort of exorbitant figure is typically reserved for craft services and subway posters, studios are now in favor of passing the burden along to theater owners—and thus, to audience members, who have been getting a free ride for too long, give or take a $3 or $4 additional fee.
The Hollywood Reporter estimates the cost of glasses accounts for about 50 cents per movie ticket, which will presumably be added to the standard surcharge covering the cost of the projection, the overall enhancement of your experience, that one scene where it looks like Nicolas Cage is putting a shotgun right in your face, and so on. Anyway, it seems like a logical compromise—one that might avoid yet another dramatic downturn in 3-D movie attendance—would be continuing to allow people to keep their 3-D glasses after a screening, then present them at the box office to avoid the extra charge. Unfortunately, this argument presumes that pricing at movie theaters is dictated by logic or compromise.