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Sony Pictures agrees to pay for "Men in Black 3" 3-D glasses

May 24, 2012|By Richard Verrier
  • People use 3-D glasses to watch an NFL football game shown in movie theaters in 2008.
People use 3-D glasses to watch an NFL football game shown in movie theaters… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Sony Pictures Entertainment has backed down from its refusal to pay for the 3-D glasses on this weekend's science fiction sequel "Men in Black 3." But the studio still doesn't see eye to eye with exhibitors on the issue.

Sony sent a letter to exhibitors last fall informing them that as of May 1, 2012, it would not longer pay 3-D technology companies such as RealD the average cost of about 45 cents per ticket for 3-D glasses used by moviegoers. Sony contends that theaters, not studios, should cover the cost of supplying the glasses, which can add up to $10 million for very popular films.

In Europe, theaters cover the cost of glasses and sell them to patrons. In the U.S., moviegoers can use the glasses free of charge.

Leading theater chains have balked at changing the model in North America, noting that they already pay a license fee for 3-D equipment in their theaters.  Executives of Regal and Cinemark recently reiterated to investors that they had no intention of paying for the 3-D glasses.

That prompted Sony to back down, at least for "Men in Black 3," said two industry executives familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. That's not surprising given that tracking is good on the movie. The last thing Sony wants is to give people a reason not see the movie, which will be widely distributed in 3-D and 2-D.

Steve Elzer, a spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment, declined to comment on the studio's decision but said: "Without affecting consumer access to our upcoming 3D pictures, we continue discussing this matter with the exhibition community while working towards a longterm solution that addresses our concerns about embracing a more sustainable eyewear model. Our position has not changed: it is not our intent to indefinitely subsidize 3D eyewear."

The battle over who would pay for 3-D glasses first flared up in 2009, when 20th Century Foxattempted to stop paying for glasses and then relented when no other studios supported the decision.


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