AMC will convert about a third of its screens for digital 3-D

[27 March 2009]

By Robert W. Butler

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

To get more people into theaters, AMC is going to make more movies burst off screens.

On Thursday, Kansas City-based AMC Entertainment Inc. announced a deal with RealD to convert about a third of its more than 4,500 American screens for digital 3-D presentations.

The rollout already has begun, according to AMC representative Justin Scott, who said that currently the company has 146 RealD screens. RealD still requires moviegoers to don 3D glasses, but the lenses are clear and not the funky red-and-blue lenses of the 1950s.

By the time the job is completed in 2010, about 1,500 of the chain’s auditoriums will be equipped for digital 3-D.

That’s important for two reasons.

First: At the box office, 3-D versions of films consistently outperform flat versions of the same in per-screen-average. Given a choice, audiences opt for 3-D, even though tickets to 3-D movies typically cost several dollars more than regular admission.

Second: Hollywood is expected to release a dozen or more feature 3-D films this year. The latest, “Monsters vs. Aliens,” opens Friday.

“Our intent is to feature at least one screen in every AMC theatre,” said Gerry Lopez, AMC’s CEO and president. “This partnership with RealD will give our guests an enhanced way to experience movies perfectly timed for the full line-up of 3D films coming from some of the biggest names in Hollywood.”

Other chains are getting into the 3-D business as well. The regional chain Dickinson Theatres, which operates theaters in 11 states, last fall announced it would convert most of its theaters to digital projection, with one or two auditoriums in each megaplex capable of showing 3-D films.

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