by Daniel Loria

In 2012, Ang Lee transfixed critics and audiences alike with his use of 3D in Life of Pi. The film became a global success, grossing $611.7 million worldwide. The following year, Alfonso Cuarón found the same warm reception with Gravity --grossing $716.3 million globally. If there was a 2014 release poised to continue that streak, it would have been Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. Nolan, however, decided to emphasize his preference for analog formats with the Interstellar release --scrapping the idea of 3D altogether in favor of promoting advance 70mm and 35mm screenings. Interstellar still succeeded globally, registering a $664.2 million haul, but the response from audiences ($186.9M) and critics in North America was somewhat muted when compared to the director's previous efforts. Despite its relative success, Interstellar still felt like somewhat of a missed opportunity, leaving 2014 without a defining 3D film to capture an audience's imagination. That isn't to say 2014 was devoid of blockbusters released in 3D; the format helped launch Guardians of the Galaxy and The LEGO Movie into the blockbuster category.

"3D operates as a kind of derivative of the cinema business; good slates and bad slates, up years and down years," explains Chad Aaron, president and CFO of MasterImage 3D. "And yes, 2015 is looking like a great year, but look at the anchor films we have coming in the next five years with the Star Wars and Avatar sequels." MasterImage remains positive at the outlook for 3D going into the future, seeing a potential for the format as international exhibitors rush to meet consumer demand. While several other 3D companies have begun to diversify their tech offerings, MasterImage remains exclusively committed to 3D. "If you look at what exhibitors have been involved with over the past five years, you have to notice exhibitors are sick of spending money --they're interested in making money now," Aaron says.

Like its competitors, MasterImage has been busy addressing a common complaint from audiences: the brightness levels of 3D. Their Mi-Horizon3D system, announced in late 2013, zeroes in on the issue and has already found eager clients in the growing international marketplace. MEGABOX, one of the leading exhibitors in South Korea with more than 450 screens, adopted MasterImage's high-brightness 3D system last year.

Brightness isn't only a concern for manufacturers of 3D system. Screen manufacturer Harkness launched its new Clarus XC series at last year's CinemaCon, while Port Window Glass offers their anti-reflective Opticlear glass for projection booths. LightSpeed Design introduced its DepthQ CineBright solution last summer, a 3D light recycling product that is already available outside the U.S. thanks to the growing demand of international exhibitors for more 3D screens.

The international demand for 3D becomes obvious when considering the sheer number of offices RealD has opened overseas. RealD has a presence in over 26,000 auditoriums across 73 countries, with local offices in Moscow, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. China's booming exhibition market is central to RealD's strategy for the future; in 2014 RealD extended its agreement with Wanda Cinema to double the number of its auditoriums in the circuit over the next three years. As of November 2014, there are already more than 1,000 RealD screens being installed in Wanda Cinema locations across China. RealD also has deals in place with exhibitors in China and Russia to roll out their premium large-format brand, Luxe, in those markets. "It started recently," explains Anthony Marcoly, president of worldwide cinema for RealD. "They've sort of grown up with 3D, and that's really the way exhibition programs over there. When a movie is available in 3D, it gets programmed in about 95 percent of their cinemas that way, and that's how the audiences see the movie. As a 3D company, that's probably our most important territory right now, and the deal we just signed with Wanda confirms that."

RealD isn't the only company entering the premium large-format and luxury business. Dolby is entering the space themselves with Dolby Cinema, in which Dolby 3D will be a vital component of an offering that will include Christie laser projection, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. "As more 3D titles are released worldwide, our consistent relationships with filmmakers, studios, and exhibition allows Dolby to deliver premium cinematic experiences to consumers in Dolby 3D, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. Dolby has delivered some of the biggest Hollywood titles, such as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Guardians of the Galaxy, in Dolby 3D and Dolby Atmos," says Doug Darrow, senior vice president of cinema at Dolby Laboratories. "Our collaboration continues with members of the film industry to bring more Dolby 3D, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos titles to the cinema. It is likely to be a big year for 3D releases, and our goal with Dolby Cinema is to provide filmmakers the technology solutions to most accurately represent their vision."

While 2014 lacked the defining critical and commercial 3D hit of years past, it did produce one of the most compelling releases since the format's renaissance, Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language 3D. Indie distributor Kino Lorber had difficulty finding enough screens to carry the acclaimed title from the iconic French New Wave auteur, despite the fact the film had been awarded the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and named the best film of the year by the National Society of Film Critics. The film's widest release in the U.S. only covered 7 locations, and it was still able to pocket $335K from its theatrical run. Goodbye to Language is a prime example of how all theaters, not just the multiplex, stand to gain from embracing 3D. The format is nothing new at the art house; documentaries like Pina from Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams come to mind. Top film festivals already recognize 3D's potential to further cross over into the art house; the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals count on XPAND 3D as a technology partner at their events.

"People had always thought of 3D as that sort of eye-popping stuff that comes at you. What filmmakers have found is that 3D enables a storytelling mode that can bring the audience into the movie itself and make it immersive," says RealD's Anthony Marcoly. The continued adoption of the format by filmmakers, along with international consumer demand, makes it clear that 3D is much more than simply a trend. The support of the creative community is central to 3D's success, and the ensuing box office results are simply a byproduct of that endorsement. Meanwhile, as 3D technology improves, so will the consumer's experience. The future for 3D looks bright indeed.

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By Daniel Garris

Lionsgate's The Divergent Series: Insurgent led the box office this weekend with a first place debut of $52.26 million. The second installment of the young adult series starring Shailene Woodley debuted on the low end of its pre-release expectations. Insurgent opened 4 percent below the $54.61 million start of last year's Divergent. However, it should be noted that Insurgent had the added advantage of higher priced 3D admissions, while Divergent did not. With that said, Insurgent was still off to a very solid start of its own this weekend. It should also be noted that the film's overseas start was significantly stronger than that of Divergent.

Insurgent opened with $21.15 million on Friday (which included an estimated $4.1 million from evening shows on Thursday), fell 7 percent on Saturday to gross $19.69 million and declined 42 percent on Sunday to gross $11.43 million. That places the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.47 to 1. In comparison, Divergent had a ratio of 2.40 to 1. Insurgent having a slightly more back-loaded opening weekend performance than Divergent had could be a good sign for Insurgent going forward, though it could also be a sign of the film's initial audience being less fan-driven this time around.

The audience breakdown for The Divergent Series: Insurgent skewed towards female moviegoers (60 percent) and towards moviegoers under the age of 25 (55 percent). The film received a healthy A- rating on CinemaScore.

Cinderella placed in second this weekend with a strong $34.97 million. Disney's blockbuster fairy tale adaptation was down 48 percent from last weekend's debut. That represented a respectable second weekend hold, especially when considering the direct competition the film faced from Insurgent and that Cinderella lost most of its IMAX screens to Insurgent as well. Cinderella zoomed past the $100 million domestic mark this weekend and has grossed $122.52 million in ten days. That places the film a slim 4 percent behind the $128.18 million ten-day start of last year's Maleficent (which declined 51 percent in its second weekend to gross $34.33 million). Maleficent went on to stabilize very nicely later on in its run, and Cinderella will have a strong chance of doing the same, especially given the limited amount of new options for family audiences in April.

With Insurgent and Cinderella currently dominating the box office, the rest of the weekend's line-up made very little noise. It was an especially close race for third, with action thrillers Run All Night and The Gunman separated by an extremely slim $3,621 for the frame.

Warner's Run All Night finished in third place with $5.032 million. The Liam Neeson led action thriller was down 54 percent from last weekend, which represented a typical second weekend decline for a Neeson vehicle. Run All Night has grossed $19.64 million in ten days. That is a bit below expectations and places the film 6 percent behind the $20.83 million ten-day take of last year's A Walk Among the Tombstones (which fell 67 percent in its second weekend to gross $4.19 million).

Open Road's The Gunman debuted in fourth place with $5.029 million. The Sean Penn led action thriller opened a bit below its already modest pre-release expectations. Online activity for the film had been especially soft in the weeks leading up to its release and the film arriving so soon after Run All Night certainly didn't help matters either. The Gunman opened a significant 54 percent softer than the already soft $11.01 million start of Run All Night last weekend.

The Gunman started out with $1.77 million on Friday, increased 13 percent on Saturday to gross $1.99 million and declined 37 percent on Sunday to take in $1.26 million. That gave the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.84 to 1. The Gunman received a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore and should fade away from theatres quickly.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service rounded out the weekend's top five with $4.63 million. The Matthew Vaughn directed graphic novel adaptation starring Colin Firth was down just 26 percent from last weekend, as the film continues to hold up very nicely. The 38-day total for Kingsman stands at a stronger than expected $114.59 million.

Do You Believe? arrived in sixth place with $3.59 million. The faith-based drama from Pure Flix opened a bit below expectations and failed to approach the $9.22 million start of last year's God's Not Dead, though it wasn't widely expected to do so. Do You Believe? grossed $1.21 million on Friday, increased a slim 9 percent on Saturday to gross $1.32 million and decreased just 20 percent on Sunday to gross $1.06 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.96 to 1. Do You Believe? will hope to hold up well going forward, thanks in part to the approaching Easter holiday.

On the platform front, It Follows continued its solid performance with $344,874 from 32 locations. That gave the critically acclaimed horror thriller from RADiUS-TWC a per-location average of $10,777 for the frame. It Follows has grossed $568,901 through ten days of platform release. Based on its performance thus far and on the strong critical buzz surrounding the film, It Follows is scheduled to expand into semi-wide release next weekend.

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By Alex Edghill

Monday Morning Update: This past week Facebook had a huge crackdown on spammers and fake accounts, something which saw many of the biggest Facebook properties take massive tumbles. Furious 7 fell almost 2 million likes, Ted 2 lost 800k while Minions tumbled 700k likes. Now all of those affected by the spam-removal still have oodles and oodles of legitimate likes so its not like they are hurting, but still it was good to see Facebook playing an active role in weeding out false followers, something with Twitter has a very hard time with.

In the midst of all this Paper Towns snatched the weekly lead for like increases as it rose by almost 250k new likes thanks largely because of its first trailer. The film is one of the most anticipated adaptations of the year with a lot of expectations after author John Green's last adaptation The Fault In Our Stars was one of the most discussed and indeed profitable films of 2014. Fault actually rose only 200k tweets in the week after its first trailer which is a good sign here, though it had a lot more likes prior to the first trailer also (it had 501k total likes a week after its first trailer). Paper Towns does have a long long way to go to match Fault in pre-release buzz though as its predecessor reached a gaudy 8 million total likes before it opened last June.

Pixels debuted its first trailer last week as well and reaped the benefits as it popped up on many people's radars for the first time, seeing almost a 500% jump. Adam Sandler's last film Blended didn't see a 100k like increase for any of its trailers and had only 274k likes before it was released. Strong signs for Pixels which might be more Grown Ups than Blended which is a very good sign for its potential. I mean really, if Tyrion Lannister with a laser cannon and a mullet doesn't spell box office gold I don't know what does!

Unfriended made it three weeks in a row that it had a 100k+ like increase, bringing its total to just under 800k. 1 million and more likes by its release is all but assured now as is its success (in my eyes at least). Home is surprisingly ahead of Get Hard amongst next week's openers (Get Hard has only 162k likes), and while I'm not sure they will finish in that order when the receipts are tallied almost 300k for a net new original animated film is pretty solid. Get Hard lags far behind the 700k Ride Along had prior to its release and when paired with its mediocre Twitter numbers and reviews looks like its going to not be an added highlight to Ferrell and Hart's bios.

Facebook Top 5 Movies by Like Increase for the last week Ending Sunday March 22nd

Rank Release Movie Likes Previous Change % Change
1 07/24/15 Paper Towns 362,926 114,169 248,757 217.88%
2 07/24/15 Pixels 185,780 31,349 154,431 492.62%
3 04/17/15 Unfriended 789,468 684,215 105,253 15.38%
4 03/27/15 Home (2015) 276,850 229,954 46,896 20.39%
5 04/10/15 The Longest Ride 175,583 140,296 35,287 25.15%

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Please check the methodology page for information about our Twitter project or here for historic data.

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by Phil Contrino

3D may not be generating tons of headlines these days, but that doesn't mean it's not a vital part of our industry. Eight of 2014's highest-grossing films were released in 3D. (Technically you could say nine out of 10, considering that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 received a 3D release in China but not North America.) Modern 3D is heading toward a period of maturity. Key lessons have been learned by distributors, exhibitors, and filmmakers about what works and what doesn't. The polarizing aspect of 3D hasn't gone away, but sometimes all it takes is one great film in 3D to change minds. We're betting that Gravity did just that last year. As long as filmmakers with exciting visions continue to value 3D, we'll stay confident about its potential.

Animated Films Will Continue to Connect in 3D

We firmly believe that Minions will become a member of the $1 billion global gross club when it opens in July this year, and a big reason for that will be strong grosses-both at home and overseas-from 3D shows. We are also bullish on Inside Out, Underdogs, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Peanuts Movie, and The Good Dinosaur.

3D Films Will Continue to Dominate the Box Office

The top 10 list in 2015 should be heavy on 3D releases. The heavy favorites to be No. 1 and No. 2-Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars-are both in 3D. That may sound like a no-brainer, but the continued success of films released in 3D is an important reinforcement of the collective gamble our industry has taken, and it's always a fact that should be celebrated. The mainstream media is quick to pick on 3D, and it's crucial to make sure that the good stories are told.

Franchise Reboots Try 3D on for Size

It'll be very interesting to see how Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens perform in 3D. We're betting all three will be very strong. When it comes to Jurassic World and Star Wars, it's clear that fans want to see those worlds with an added dimension, because 3D rereleases from both properties performed well at the box office.

More Oscar Recognition

There's a fact about 3D that goes underreported: back-to-back Best Director Oscars went to filmmakers who made critically and commercially successful 3D films: Ang Lee for Life of Pi and Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity. There's a chance that 2015's crop of films could bring more Oscar recognition. The two main contenders are Robert Zemeckis for The Walk and Craig Gillespie for The Finest Hours.

Expect Surprises

Every year there's a 3D film that comes along and surprises audiences a bit. This is a good thing for the industry as a whole, because it trains consumers to expect the unexpected when they go to the movies. We can't wait to see what film (or films) will surprise this year.


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By Alex Edghill

Sunday Morning Update: With the reign of Insurgent finally over a newcomer made its way into the top 5 for the first time this past week, shooting right to the top with its first trailer - Paper Towns. The latest film adaptation from author John Green's (of Fault In Our Stars fame) list of best-sellers. Paper Towns had an eye-popping 122,864 tweets on Thursday, making it the third largest trailer of the year on Twitter behind only Unfriended and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The main comparison here of interest is Fault In Our Stars which managed an even bigger 145,233 tweets last January. Given the fact that Paper Towns has a much bigger scope on it because of Stars I'm going to go out on a limp here and say $50 million+ is highly unlikely (Fault In Our Stars opened to $48 million), however, its still going to be a massive success with $30 million+ very likely at this point. I'll be interested to see how its buzz tracks now that its first trailer is out and Fault In Our Stars continued to have huge volumes for months leading up to its release, enough to make it the most talked about film on Twitter for all of 2014.

The other big mover on the week was Insidious Chapter III which rose to just over 23,000 tweets last Wednesday after the release of its first trailer. By comparison, Insidious Chapter II had 36k+ tweets for its first trailer back in 2013, on its way to a $40 million opening. It would appear as though we need to lower our sights for the film given these trailer numbers, and with the horror genre being so busy this year this could be one that falls through the cracks when it comes to opening weekend. The first film opened to $10 million, second was $40 million and my guess is the third will land somewhere in-between.

Twitter Top 10 Movies for the week of March 13th to March 19th

Date Movie Tweets Rank Change
7/24/15 Paper Towns 185,415 1 (+3) 527.25%
5/01/15 Avengers: Age of Ultron 115,306 2 (-) 22.16%
4/03/15 Furious 7 98,534 3 (-) 31.57%
6/05/15 Insidious: Chapter 3 63,796 4 (+10) 408.21%
6/12/15 Jurassic World 32,719 5 (+5) 102.58%

Subscribe to Box Office for more social media insights/coverage.

Please check the methodology page for information about our Twitter project or here for historic data.

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