EXCLUSIVE: There’s an accusation that Hollywood studios are holding back their hottest 3D Blu-ray releases, including Avatar 3D and Toy Story 3, until they see how much demand there is for the new format. This is despite manufacturers needing to sell 3D BD players in the run-up before Christmas. London based consultancy Screen Digest says studios including Fox, Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros are only making a handful of 3D Blu-Ray titles available on the shelves before December –- and risking choking off demand for what Blu-ray’s long-awaited killer app. Screen Digest predicts that, by 2014, 75% of U.S. homes that have 3D-enabled TV sets will be able to show 3D BDs. And that 28% of U.S. homes will have 3D TVs within 4 years. Right now, only 25 3D BD discs will go on sale before Christmas, but only 6 of these will not be bundled along with 3D hardware. This means hardly any choice on the shelves. Disney’s Alice In Wonderland and Bolt will be exclusively bundled with Sony 3D hardware until early December. DreamWorks Animations’ Monsters vs Aliens, How To Train Your Dragon, and Shrek 4 will only be available if you buy Samsung’s 3D hardware. Anybody buying Panasonic 3D TVs gets Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and/or Universal’s Coraline. But there are no plans as yet to release Disney’s Up or Warner’s Clash of the Titans on 3D BD in the U.S. or UK. Analyst Helen Davis Jayalath, head of video at Screen Digest, tells me: “Early take-up of 3D Blu-ray would provide a much needed boost to the format, sales of which have fallen short of projections made pre-recession. Perhaps, not surprisingly, studios are hesitant to release their ‘crown jewel’ titles on 3D BD.” Her colleague Richard Baxter, co-author of report Studio Caution May Stymie 3D, Blu-Ray’s Potential Killer App, adds: “Our research shows that all the studios support 3D BD but many of them are unwilling to release their strongest 3D titles before the installed base of home 3D hardware is large enough to generate serious returns.”
But one studio I spoke to says there are many more 3D BD releases ready to be announced — but it just couldn’t tell Screen Digest about them at the time. Yet if Hollywood is stocking Christmasholiday store shelves with more 3D product than Screen Digest thinks, it’d better hurry. Disney tells me its 4-disc version of Christmas Carol releasing before Christmas includes the 3D version, for example, and the studio claims it has strongly supported BD from the inception and continues to back industry initiatives to advance the platform.