In July 2017, Lyca, the producers who bankrolled Shankar’s magnum opus 2.0, held a series of meetings with theatre owners to push them to adopt 3D screens.
The Hindu BusinessLine reports that despite more than a year of campaigning and advocating for 3D technology, Tamil Nadu only has 450 3D screens out of a total of 1,546 screens. The rest of the country too has been turning a cold shoulder to this format.
According to a report by Deloitte, of approximately 8,000 (approx) screens in India, fewer than 2,000 are 3D screens. Why is there such a reluctance among theatre owners to adopt 3D tech?
Was ’84 the Best Year for 3D?
My Dear Kuttichathan, released in 1984, was India’s first 3D film. It was dubbed as Chota Chetan in Hindi and went on to become one of the most successful films at the box office and achieved a cult status.
Yet, barely 40 3D films have been made over the last three decades (1984–2018) across the Indian film industries. Many were released a year or two after the success of My Dear..., but the trend soon fizzled out.
This was partly because ticket sales were split halfway between 2D and 3D. Most of the films that came after mostly used 3D as a marketing attraction. Put simply, the movies didn’t require it. It was only in 2012, with Prabhu Deva’s ABCD (Anybody Can Dance), that the format was used for a genre other than drama, horror or sci-fi fantasy. Here too, the 3D was only superfluous icing.
Indian cinema is yet to see an original thought in 3D cinema, after My Dear Kuttichathan. Will 2.0 be the one?
The Prohibitive Cost
To convert a 2D theatre to 3D takes anywhere between Rs 6 lakh to Rs10 lakh. This would involve replacing the screen, updating the audio systems and switching to a 3D projector with Xenon lamps that burn brighter than in ordinary 2D projectors. This is because 3D glasses (another investment) tend to lower the brightness of the images on the screen. The projector, therefore, will need to compensate for this. The theatre owners will also need to take into consideration the maintenance costs, which will be at least 40 to 50 per cent higher than for a 2D theatre.
These costs have so far proved to be a deterrent for single theatre owners to switch to 3D.
Over 42 per cent of theatres in India (i.e. around 4,000 screens) have switched to digital projection over the last decade. Thanks to a larger influx of Hollywood movies made in 3D, over 80 per cent of the audience has begun to opt for the 3D version of a film over 2D. The success of Avengers: Infinity War, and the anticipation of other upcoming superhero and sci-fi films in 3D have made theatre owners across India consider switching to the format.
So far, over 450 theatres out of 1,546 in Tamil Nadu (2,000 screens across India) have opted for 3D screens. This is nowhere near the almost 40 per cent (25,000 screens out of 50,000) that China has already opted for. But it’s a start.
For a film that’s banking heavily on its ability to wow the audience with ‘never before seen’ 3D effects, there aren’t that many screens to showcase the actual thought/imagination, or tech behind the thought.
Nevertheless, 2.0 is still a Rajinikanth film and a Shankar spectacle, so there will be something even for those without access to 3D spectacles. While it is bound to be a setback at the BO, we hope it doesn’t ruin the party.
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