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3D impressions from the Cannes Film Festival

5/16/2011 03:50:00 PM

Where should I start?

Ok, I know I’m supposed to write about 3D content, report that there will be even more content available this year and that that fact alone will drive 3DTV sales in the USA.

But as a CE lifer (no way am I divulging my number of CES visits!) and a first timer to the Cannes Film Festival and Market, my impression is that for these attendees, mixing business and pleasure is an art form. Vive la France!

Business at the festival is done on yachts; in swanky pavilions with meeting tables on the sand, literally right next to the sea; and of course, into the wee wee hours at exclusive clubs were pricy champagne is consumed like Evian…all amongst the star sightings and beautiful people.

And we CE folks get excited about a one night product launch party and a free USB drive. Woo hoo.

In all seriousness, we know the CE business is different than the movie business, but in many cases they overlap and influence each other. 3DTV adoption is the latest overlap.

Last year the most significant challenges to 3DTV adoption were the high price of the TVs and the lack of content. Things are about to change dramatically on the TV front in 2011.

A slew of low cost 120hz LCDTV 3DTVs will be available this year as well as an increased number of value priced 3D Plasma TVs models. Quixel Research estimates that these additions will fuel sales of close to 6.5M in the USA for 2011 or 5 times 2010 sales.

On the content side of the overlap (back to the glamorous crowd!), the changes are less dramatic, but still very significant. Saturday night, one of the big nights of the festival, was the high-profile screening of the 3D movie Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides. As a guest of Xpand, the exclusive 3D technical sponsor for Cannes, I enjoyed walking the red carpet with 3D glasses and watching Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz join an entire audience wearing 3D glasses. After 12 months of listening to glasses bashing, I had to chuckle in amusement while watching attendees playfully snap picture of each other in 3D glasses.

Most important to the movie industry are the revenues associated with 3D. Last year, 50% to 70% of box office receipts were generated from 3D ticket sales despite declining overall ticket sales. The Cannes Film Market is also important for 3D broadcasters because they need content for those nascent 3D channels.

A film distribution executive stated (on the Miramax yacht where we gazed from afar at Jude Law and Rob Lowe- wow!) that compared to 2010, the number of 3D films released will more than double in 2011. There was little doubt from the billboards on the streets of Cannes that the number of 3D movies is on the rise. In front of the Ritz Carlton 3 of 5 billboards were for upcoming 3D releases.

Yes, we can expect more Pirhana and Hercules type 3D movies this year, but we’ll also find films for audiences interested in more than fun-filled blockbusters. Adding legitimacy to 3D for a more discerning audience is the closing night screening of Takashi Miike’s Hari Kiri: Death of a Samurai. Miike’s Samurai is the first 3D film ever to be selected for the actual Cannes competition, a much more significant honor than a premiere at Cannes.

Even heavyweight Martin Scorsese is joining the 3D camp with his upcoming release of Hugo Cabret in 3D, staring Johnny Depp and Jude Law. That’s two 3D movies in one year for Johnny … seems he believes in 3D and after a week at the festival of glam so do I.

Tamaryn Pratt is a Principal at Quixel Research

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