The total number of Blu-ray Disc 3-D (BD 3D) titles in the U.S. market has grown by more than a factor of five within two short years since the format debuted in 2010.
At the end of 2012, some 200 BD 3D titles were available for purchase in the United States, up from 37 in 2010 and 108 in 2011, according to an IHS Screen Digest Video Intelligence Report from information and analytics provider IHS(NYSE: IHS). In 2012 alone, 92 titles were added to the roster, compared to 71 in 2011, as shown in the figure below.
Releases from the Hollywood majors still outnumber independent films as a whole over the last two years, at a rate of 111 to 89. However, that ratio reversed this year with more indie titles coming out on BD 3D than big-studio releases.
“Early in the life of the format, the slate for BD 3D video introductions closely followed the theatrical 3-D schedule, focusing on new-release 3-D movies,” said Tony Gunnarsson, analyst for video at IHS. “At the same time, the early home-video 3-D lineup was biased toward animation and documentaries. But more recently, the format has seen a substantial increase in live-action 3-D movies across all genres, including action, adventure, horror, family, music, sci-fi, drama and comedy. Non-movie titles have also been made available, covering both the documentary and erotic film categories. These developments have massively expanded the number BD 3D titles available to U.S. consumers.”
New Blockbusters Take a Back Seat
The drop in major-studio BD 3D titles reflects a change in strategy, as the big players move away from the initial 3-D gold rush that followed in the wake of the enormously successful movie “Avatar”. The current BD 3D approach is more discerning, focused on select blockbuster titles, as well as on key catalog 2-D to 3-D conversions. Examples of the former include the superheroes flick “The Avengers,” while examples of the latter can be seen in titles like “I, Robot” and “Titanic.”
Meanwhile, the number of independent BD 3-D titles continues to increase rapidly—55 alone for 2012, compared to 25 in 2011. The rapid expansion of indie titles on BD 3D suggests a level of maturity of the format—BD 3D is no longer the exclusive haunt of the Hollywood majors, whose 3-D output fell from 46 titles in 2011 to 37 in 2012. For the 3-D standard to flow into the far more circumscribed indie film world reflects the improvements in cost and availability of 3-D production technology, and is also indicative of broader acceptance and penetration of the medium.
To be sure, BD 3D makes up just a small portion—8 percent—of the physical video business. Nonetheless, the format is here to stay. In particular, 2012 could be seen as the point when BD 3D transforms from mere novelty status into a permanent, high-end niche, IHS believes.
Prometheus (3-D) Unbound
Some blockbuster titles have even performed remarkably well, such as the sci-fi movie “Prometheus” from 20th Century Fox, whose BD 3D version generated first-week sales equivalent to a quarter of the title’s overall retail takings.
More intriguing still, BD 3D could be seen as an aspirational product. It is the BD format’s principal point of difference between it and other video entertainment platforms. Furthermore, 3-D enables BD titles to be released as part of an ultimate video package with multiple discs, priced at a premium above standard 2-D Blu-ray versions. On its uniquely situated perch, BD 3D could represent a coveted goal for upscaling among consumers, while serving up hopes for industry players that, even in a declining physical video market, some formats may still be able to maintain the value of the video disc.
Read More > IHS Screen Digest Vide Intelligence Service