UK cinemas clear up 3D glasses cost confusion

UK cinemas clear up 3D glasses cost confusion
What, these old things?

Sony Pictures is to stop paying for cinemas to provide 3D glasses starting in May 2012.

When this news broke yesterday, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter, cinemas panicked, cinema-goers grumbled and post after post was penned expressing outrage that Sony would pass the $5 - $10 million it currently costs to provide glasses per 3D film to movie watchers.

As the original story explained, Sony Pictures and most other studios agreed to foot the optical bill to sweeten the deal for cinemas which were investing in pricey 3D projection equipment, but never intended it to be a permanent situation.

Big deal

And here in the UK, we didn't really see what all the fuss was about.

"The situation in the US differs to the practice in place here in the UK," Apollo Cinemas' marketing manager Nicole Oakley explained to TechRadar.

"The US system sees film distributors pay for the 3D glasses, providing them to the customer.

"However Sony seems to be following the UK/European model where exhibitors buy the glasses and provide them to their customers for a small fee, in our case for £1.

"We encourage our customers to reuse these glasses, from an environmental and economic point of view; it makes sense to all concerned."

Cineworld, which provides passive glasses made by RealD, encourages you to recycle your cheapo 3D eyeglasses too.

A spokesperson for the chain told us, "Since November 2009, Cineworld Cinemas have implemented a scheme for the purchase of 3D glasses at all Cineworld sites.

"This is due to the success of 3D and the volume of glasses that require disposal becoming an increasing concern. In an effort to encourage our customers to recycle their existing pairs of glasses Cineworld has separated out the cost of the glasses and reduced the uplift to compensate."

Keep calm and carry 3D glasses

So there you have it - situation totally normal for UK cinema goers and no need for our American cousins to panic (although panic they have, with RealD's stock reportedly plummeting 15 per cent as a result).

Some will argue that another £1 on top of the already inflated ticket price for 3D films is an outrage and others will complain that having to remember to take your silly toy glasses with you whenever you want to catch a 3D flick is a chore - and these arguments will scare an already jittery 3D cinema industry that fears the bloom is off the three dimensional rose.

But we can't help but feel that Sony Pictures is making the right move here; after all, when you see something as disposable, you're more likely to dispose of it.

But if you know you could save yourself a few quid by reusing these eminently reusable glasses, then you will - and the studios, cinemas, your bank balance and the environment will thank you for it.

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.