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‘Titans’ Box Office Analysis: 3D Backlash Fizzles

Converted film’s debut shrugs off fears of moviegoer revolt, but it isn’t a ringing endorsement for the format, either

3D haters — and lovers — are going to have to wait another day.

The way the extremists saw it, Warner’s “Clash of the Titans” was either going to accelerate the current wave of 3D film conversions, or it was going to trigger a consumer backlash by moviegoers feeling ripped off by having to pay higher ticket prices for films that don’t visually deliver in the same way those natively shot in 3D do.

Neither result occurred this weekend.

Grossing 52 percent of its $61.2 million weekend domestic take on 1,810 3D screens, “Titans’” performance in the U.S. and Canada far outpaced the previous best Easter Weekend opening mark of $40.2 million, set by Weinstein’s “Scary Movie 4” in 2006.

It also garnered an overall “B” grade from preeminent moviegoer satisfaction surveyor ComScore.

On the other hand, some might find it hard to argue that the additional revenue derived from premium 3D ticket prices – pegged at around $10 million by Box Office Mojo – was worth the hassle to Warner.

Not only did the studio have to pay a reported $4.5 million for the conversion, it also had to fork over a lot of political capital to exhibitors in order to get the movie played in the format — given the scarcity of 3D screens.

Certainly, the level of box-office enthusiasm for “Titans” in 3D was much more muted than it was for Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” a Tim Burton film that was also converted to 3D during post-production.

Premiering March 5, that film garnered about 70 percent of its $116.1 million from 3D exhibition, with much more positive reaction from critics.

“I know the feedback I received on ‘Titans’ was that the 3D was lacking, but I’m not sure if that train has left the station or not,” said a rival-studio distribution official, noting that one film is not going to make or break the ongoing migration to 3D cinema.

About a dozen 3D films are currently on the remainder of the 2010 domestic release slate, and most of them are conversions. Warner is currently converting "Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," as well as the final two chapters of its "Harry Potter" franchise, the first of which will premiere in November.

A number of other films, including Weinstein’s upcoming "Piranha 3D," have been shot in 2D and converted once they were in post production.

However, with critics and fanboys mauling this approach in "Titans," Sony specifically indicates in its trailer for the upcoming "Resident Evil: Afterlife" that the film was shot using the same digital 3D camera system that James Cameron deployed for "Avatar."