Hopes that the space epic’s success would heighten moviegoers’ interest in the format fail to pan out
Any thoughts that the success of “Gravity” would provide an immediate boost for 3D movies has evaporated — at least for now — with the so-so numbers put up by “Thor: The Dark Age.”
With around 80 percent of its 3,841 screens offering the format, roughly 39 percent of Disney's Marvel superhero sequel’s $85.7 million opening weekend grosses came from 3D. That's still about $33 million, but a solid majority of moviegoers opted to see it in 2D rather than put on the glasses.
The “Thor” sequel performed in line with other action superheroes, said B. Riley & Co. analyst Eric Wold.
“I think that to a degree, it was hurt by the ‘hangover’ from summer, when there were several movies that were in 3D and really didn’t need to be, and that may have put off some fans of the genre,” Wold said Tuesday.
“Thor: The Dark World” actually topped the percentages put up by some summer movies including “World War Z” (34 percent), “Wolverine” (30 percent) and “Monsters University” (31 percent).
But any post-”Gravity” boost for the format didn't materialize. The majority of the Warner Bros. space epic's $475 million in global grosses have come from 3D and Imax, and there was hope within the industry that a positive experience with “Gravity” might cause audiences, particularly older moviegoers, to be less skittish about the format.
Wold said in a report prior to the opening of the superhero sequel that he expected it, and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” would benefit from the space saga's success.
“For weeks, we have noted that ‘Gravity’ would represent a significant positive turning point for investor and consumer sentiment around the 3D premium format,” Wold wrote.
“The Dark World” was converted to 3D in post-production by London’s Double Negative effects house. That’s different than “Gravity,” which was initially conceived as a 3D film and shot that way.
Still, Wold said the 3D numbers for the Marvel sequel weren't bad, considering.
“The marketing around ‘Thor’ really didn't focus on the 3D the way that it did with ‘Gravity’ or ‘The Life of Pi’ last year,” he said. “And it was splitting some Imax screens with ‘Ender's Game,’ and that probably kept the 3D numbers down some, too.
Regardless of how domestic audiences regard 3D, it remains popular overseas and routinely contributes between 80 percent and 90 percent of a film’s box office take in places like Russia and China.