The number of digital 3D cinema screens has nearly tripled during the first six months of 2007, suggesting exhibitors are stepping up to meet Hollywood studio's increasing investment in exclusive 3D movies.
According to a report from Screen Digest - 'The Business Case For Digital Cinema Exhibition' - there were 258 digital 3D screens worldwide at the end of 2006 and now there are 750 with 85% in the US and high activity in South Korea and Australia.
Germany has 22 screens, the highest in Europe, while the UK trails behind with 7 screens.
Globally there are 41 cinema chains in 21 different territories that are equipped with at least one digital screens and Screen Digest predicts that by 2009, 5,000 screens - more thank 5% of global screens - will be digital 3D. The US will house three-quarters of these screens.
Looking at the first four digital 3D releases - Chicken Little, Monster House, Nightmare Before Christmas 3D and Meet The Robinsons - data shows that in opening weekends 3D screens generate around three times more revenue and 2.4 admissions compared to standard two-dimensional screens, making a strong case for a rapid roll-out of 3D screens.
And exhibitors will need a steady stream of 3D movies - at least three per year - in order to see any returns on investment in equipment.
But UK exhibitor Vue Entertainment believes something dramatic with digital rollouts needs to happen outside of the US market in order to push exhibitors to installing more screens.
COO Steve Knibbs said: '3D is great and we have certainly had a good experience with the films we have shown to date. But it's not a panacea to cure all ills. What will help boost 3D will be high profile films. Beowulf, Avatar and the DreamWorks line-up is the impetus for exhibitors to install more screens.'