The year will have 28 films in 3D — down from 34 last year and a peak of 39 in 2011 — which is one reason why Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne says today that he expects this year’s domestic ticket sales to fall as much as 2%. Another reason: The analyst predicts that audience interest in 3D will continue to cool. He foresees 3D showings to account for just 39% of the total box office for films released in 3D, the lowest ratio in seven years and down from 42% in 2013 and 53% in 2012. The exhibition companies he tracks already are hurting from these trends. Consumers’ average outlay per admission in Q1 will rise just 0.5% as price increases of about 2.5% are offset by lower sales of the premium priced tickets for 3D movies. Three of the seven 3D films this quarter are “non-superhero films targeted at kids, which have recently yielded lower 3D [percentage] take-rates,” Swinburne says. Studios also probably won’t have a 3D film in early 2014 that will match last year’s Disney release, Oz: The Great And Powerful. “In the ‘golden age of TV,’ we remain cautious on attendance” for the year. Meanwhile theater growth initiatives aren’t ready to pay off just yet. The impact of efforts to promote sales of high-priced snacks “has been small,” the analyst says. He’s optimistic about plans to offer sports, opera, ballet, and other non-movie fare on slow nights, but they’re still early and “unlikely to materially drive 2014.” Swinburne’s more optimistic about growth from acquisitions, but “visibility into the pace that assets could come to market is very low.”
Here’s how the 3D market has fared, with Swinburne’s 2014 estimates:
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